Groton Hill Flute Orchestra

Season Opener ’23

Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 3:00pm

Meadow Hall at Groton Hill

Nicole O’Toole, Conductor 


Fanfare 36
Kelly Via (b. 1954)

Composer Kelly Via has played flute and piccolo in numerous orchestras in the U.S. southeast and is a flute professor at Mercer University. He is a flute choir enthusiast and was involved for many years with the National Flute Association’s professional flute choir. His award-winning composition “Fanfare 36” was written in 2008 and premiered in Kansas City at the National Flute Association’s 36th conference. The composer himself describes the piece as being inspired by the excitement and spectacle of a marching band performance. He invites us to envision a marching flute choir complete with color guard and a drum line!

Stained Glass Images
Sonny Burnette (b. 1952)

Composer Sonny Burnette holds a Doctor of Arts degree from Ball State University and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University. He has been a professor of music theory at Georgetown College and has written many works for flute choir. His multi-movement work “Stained Glass Images” won the James Madison University Flute Choir Composition Competition in 1995.

The following descriptions of the stained glass windows are taken from the composer’s own program notes.

(1) The Dawning of the Last Day

Based on the 1891 panel by Frederick Ashwin, the pointed-arch window is bordered in rich greens, amber, red and violet with an ornamental grapevine. At the base of the panel is a garden valley over which rises a magnificent sunburst in reds and yellows. Clouds in turquoise and other light pastels intertwine with sunburst spires (depicted by short scale passages in the upper flutes and piccolos).

The subject is captured in the minor tonality and ethereal melodic lines.

(2) The Rose Window

The Rose Window from the 16th century Gothic Sens Cathedral in France depicts eternity and infinity in perfect symmetry and order. This window consists of a symmetrical circular pattern above ten vertical lancets contoured at the top to accentuate the circle. Each detailed panel contains a vast array of bright colors, with blue as the central theme.

(3) Cockatoos

A late 19th century window by Louis Comfort Tiffany — who earned many commissions to decorate the houses of the rich and famous — this window depicts two cockatoos in opalescent white glass in a tropical forest setting, surrounded by brilliant greens, light blues, and ambers.

The music captures the playful antics of the cockatoo through syncopated rhythms, close harmonies, and trills.

(4) Two Oriental Panels

These two panels designed in 1888 by William Stewart, were inspired by the beauty of Japan. In the Art Nouveau style, they are characterized by swirling asymmetrical naturalism; clean, sinuous lines, and an exaggerated floral theme. Also depicted are dragonflies and a soft moonlit ocean. Fundamental colors are deep blues and ambers, white, turquoise, maroon, and various shades of red and orange for the flower blossoms.

The music is four layered melodic lines based on the pentatonic scale with a melody in the piccolos.

(5) Colour Tones of Music

Created for a German radio station by George Meistermann, this huge, abstract window caused a great stir when installed in 1952. The background colors in the window panels are tan and white. Foreground colors are green, orange, yellow, and blue-gray.

Various abstract lines throughout the window are suggestive of musical elements.

(6) Treasures of the Mediterranean

This depeicts two panels of a modern, stained glass screen by Narcissus Quagliata. The left panel is an abstract male torso in radiant blue and amber-green. Aquatic creatures such as a fish and an eel emerge from the torso. The right panel, in swirling light blues and green, represents the sea. Above the sea appears to be a distant image of the planet earth.

The rising and falling whole-tone scales portray the aquatic element of the panels.

Monochrome V
Peter Schickele (b. 1935)

Composer Peter Schickele has degrees from Swarthmore College and the Juilliard School, and he studied composition with Vincent Persichetti and William Bergsma. You might know him better by his own satirical creation “P.D.Q. Bach,” a persona he adopted in 1965. As P.D.Q. Bach, he introduced pieces such as his “Sanka Cantata,” based on J.S. Bach’s “Coffee Cantata,” and “Pervertimento” which requires bagpipes, a bicycle, and balloons. It is no surprise that his professors at Julliard did not consider all of his music to be of high quality nor suitable for concert. Nonetheless, his P.D.Q. Bach persona gained him much fame and did not detract from the serious compositions attributed to composer Peter Shickele. Minimalist composer Philip Glass said, “Peter was, of all my classmates, the most gifted…. He could write synthetic Copland, synthetic Stravinsky, and for that matter, synthetic Bach and Mozart…. He inspired us simply because he made music seem easy. He had no fear of the terrors of composition; he took the anxiety out of making music.”

Schickele’s “Monochrome V” is written for 8 C flutes speaking to the monochrome, or single color, nature of the sound. The first version of the work appeared in 1959 but only included the opening section of what we will play today. Over the years, the central section was composed and then married to the 1959 composition. The resulting piece was premiered in 1982.

The Whistler and His Dog
Arthur Pryor (1869-1942)
arr. Amy Rice-Young

Composer Arthur Pryor was a trombone virtuoso, bandleader, and soloist with the Sousa Band. He wrote many compositions and “The Whistler and His Dog,” premiered by Pryor’s own band in 1905, is one of his most popular and requested works. Audiences would whistle along with the band and keep time with their feet. Memories of Pryor’s childhood pet bulldog Roxy inspired the composition. Apparently, Roxy did not often respond to voice commands but would always come when called by whistle. Arranger Amy Rice-Young holds degrees in flute performance. She has many arrangements for flute choir to her name published through Alry.

Polka des Oiseaux
Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825-1889)
arr. Nicole O’Toole

Composer Jean-Baptiste Arban was the first famed virtuoso of the valved cornet. In his late teens he studied at the Paris Conservatory, later becoming the school’s cornet professor. Inspired by the technical displays of violinists like Paganini, Arban created his own method of technique development for cornetists. Often referred to as the “trumpeter’s bible,” his method book has been modified for most brass instruments and is still considered standard study by modern brass players.

“Polka des Oiseaux,” or “Polka of the Birds,” was originally composed as a piano piece in 1859. The polka was a dance that developed inEastern Europe in the 1800s. By the middle part of the century polkas could be found entertaining people throughout most of Europe and were especially popular in Paris. Arranged for flute orchestra by conductor Nicole O’Toole, listen for the chirping of the birds throughout the piece.

The Mouse and Clock
Howard Whitney (1869-1924)
arr. Nicole O’Toole

Many of Australian composer Howard Whitney’s compositions live through old recordings for band, orchestra, or solo banjo. They all have delightful titles such as “The Mosquito Parade,” “The Donkey’s Laugh,” and “A Watermelon Frolic.” His piece “The Mouse and Clock” appears on a 1906 recording for solo banjo with orchestra. The version you will hear today is arranged by conductor Nicole O’Toole for this ensemble. Percussive elements have been added as heard on a recording by a concert band.

INTERMISSION: 10 minutes 

Dance of the Tumblers
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
arr. Shaul Ben-Meir

Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov lived during the second half of the 19th century and was part of “The Five” or the “Mighty Handful” — a group of composers dedicated to promoting Russian art music. “Dance of the Tumblers” is from his third opera, The Snow Maiden, and can be heard in Act III during a scene depicting energetic street performers. Arranger Shaul Ben-Meir was born in Iraq in 1940, and his family moved to Israel a few years later. He quickly gained fame as a flutist with his studies taking him to England, winning awards in Finland, and finally relocating to the United States in 1967. He arranged many great orchestral works for his ensemble, The Michigan Flute Orchestra.

Greensleeves Fantasia
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
arr. Anne McGinty

English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams studied organ and composition at London’s Royal College of Music and earned a doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1901. He found himself involved with the English Folk Dance and Song Society of London and discovered a wealth of folk tunes that he incorporated into his compositions. His “Greensleeves Fantasia” includes two folk songs from the 1500s. The first is “The Ballad of Lady Greensleeves,” which you might also recognize as the melody to “What Child is This.” The second is “Lovely Joan,” and it can be heard in the middle section of the composition. The arrangement we play today is by American flutist and composer Anne McGinty.

arr. Judy Nishimura (b. 1953)

Chicago native Judy Nishimura has a degree in flute performance from Northwestern University. She has many compositions to her name, some winning notable competitions. Her piece “Transverses” won the National Flute Association’s Flute Choir Composition Competition in 2015. The piece we play today, “Pat-a-Carol” was a finalist in the 2012 NFA Newly Published Music Competition. Listen for the clever interplay of three songs: the French carol “Pat-a-Pan,” “Carol of the Bells,” and Smetana’s “Die Moldau.”

Hanukah Suite
arr. Phyllis Avidan Louke (b. 1954)

Ma-oz Tzur (Rock of Ages)
Mi Y’Malel (Who Can Retell)
On Hanukah

American flutist Phyllis Avidan Louke has over 70 published compositions, many of which are award winning. She describes the four movements of her “Hanukah Suite” in this way: “Maoz Tsur,” or “Rock of Ages,” is a hymn-like melody. “Hanukah” is a quick and lively melody. “Mi Y’Malel” (“Who Can Retell”) consists of a lively chorus in a major key, while the verse is modal, performed in a sostenuto style. And, “On Hanukah” is a pleasant march.

Ringing In The Holidays
arr. Robert L. Cathey

American music educator Robert L. Cathey is a native of Washington state and spent his career in the Seattle Public Schools, teaching and working as a music administrator. He arranged this joyful medley of Christmas songs that includes seasonal favorites such as “Caroling Caroling,” “Ding Dong Merrily On High,” and “Here We Come a-Caroling.”

Members of the Ensemble

Nicole O’Toole, Conductor

All members play the C flute. Additional instruments for this concert are listed next to the player.

Sarah Andrysiak
Stephanie Connors
Carrie Cormier
Blythe Cowen
David Deifik, piccolo
Susan Thorne Gagnon, piccolo 
Kaitlyn Gonzales
Jeanne Hebert, bass
Jennifer Hunt
Casey Koulalis, piccolo & Eb flute
Laura Kuncho, alto
Haley Laken, alto
Lisa Mitchell, alto
Joel Nolan, piccolo & bass
Lois Reynolds, alto
Elaine Sinclair, alto
Bruce Taylor, contra-bass & bass
Kimberly Tower, bass
Jessica Volk, piccolo & alto
Dani White-Yelito

About Our Conductor: Nicole O’Toole

Nicole O’Toole has been teaching music in Massachusetts since the early 90s and playing flute for over 40 years. She holds a B.M. in Music Education from University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a M.M. in Flute Performance from University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Her primary teachers were Doug Worthen and Joanne Tanner. Nicole teaches beginning band in her hometown of Bedford, MA, where she also serves as the K-12 Program Director of Performing Arts. Each summer she works with the flutists at the Mary Jo Leahy Symphonic Band Camp preparing the students for a flute choir performance. An active musician, Nicole performs with the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, the North Worcester County Symphony Orchestra, and the Firebird Pops Orchestra. She was also a playing member of the Groton Hill Flute Orchestra for many years before becoming its director. Nicole enjoys adapting music for flute choir and many of her arrangements can be heard on the ensemble’s YouTube channel.

History of the Groton Hill Flute Orchestra

The ensemble began as the Nashua Flute Choir in 1983 as a four-person ensemble. Current concertmaster and piccoloist David Deifik is a founding member. The group was devoted to the cultural and musical enrichment of Nashua, its surrounding communities, and many other locales in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for more than thirty years, through performances at church services, libraries, outdoor concerts, senior residences, weddings, corporate functions, and charitable events. The Nashua Flute Choir also performed at five National Flute Association Conventions: New York City (2009 and 1996), Washington, D.C. (2002), Atlanta (1999), and Boston (1993).

The ensemble celebrated its twentieth anniversary by making its first commission, resulting in the world premiere of Views from Falls House, by Gary Schocker. Additional works commissioned and premiered by the Nashua Flute Choir/ New England Flute Orchestra include Concertante Dragon Court by Katherine Hoover (a joint commission with Bickford Brannen), Bone, Wood, Silver, Granite, by Lisa LeMay, and Dancing Among Colored Leaves, by Brandon J. Nelson. They have recorded three CDs: Sounds of Christmas, A Falls House Christmas, and Views from Falls House (a classical and contemporary album), and were also featured on an episode of TV’s New Hampshire Chronicle.

In 2014 The Nashua Flute Choir changed its name to the New England Flute Orchestra, reflecting the growth of the ensemble, the geographic range of its performing venues, and plans for the future. In 2015, the group merged with Indian Hill Music (Littleton, MA) and enjoyed performing in Blackman Hall for six years. At the time of Indian Hill’s rebirth as Groton Hill Music Center and its move to its spectacular new venue in Groton in the fall of 2022, the ensemble became the Groton Hill Flute Orchestra.

The 2022-23 season marked both the 40th anniversary of the Flute Orchestra and Dr. Eileen Yarrison’s 25th year as its conductor. Each concert was a wonderful celebration of favorite pieces from the past, premieres of new music of the present, and a look to the future for this exceptional group of musicians. Following Eileen’s retirement as the group’s director after the June 2023 season finale concert, the ensemble welcomed Nicole O’Toole as its new conductor.

The Groton Hill Flute Orchestra’s members come from all walks of life: professional musicians, doctors, teachers, clergy, businesspeople, and engineers from various communities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. These dedicated flutists play all members of the flute family: piccolos, Eb flute, C flutes, altos, basses, and the contrabass flute.