Groton Hill Flute Orchestra

Spring Concert

Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 3:00pm

Meadow Hall at Groton Hill

Nicole O’Toole, Conductor 


Fanfare 20
James Christensen

Prolific American composer James Christensen (1935-2020) has over 400 published works to his name. During his career he served as music director for Disneyland and Disney World for 12 years. He wrote Fanfare 20 for the 20th annual convention of the National Flute Association held in Los Angeles, California, in August of 1992.

Le Cygne “The Swan”
Camille Saint-Saëns
arr. Nicole O’Toole

A musical prodigy, Frenchman Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) made his concert debut at age 10. He studied at the Paris Conservatory where he honed his piano and composition skills. “Le Cygne” or “The Swan” is from, arguably, his most famous work, Carnival of the Animals. Due to its comedic nature, and because Saint-Saëns considered himself a very serious composer, he allowed only “The Swan” to be published during his lifetime. The ensemble’s director Nicole O’Toole has always imagined the alto flute playing this beautiful melody and has arranged it for the flute orchestra. We hope you enjoy the first performance of this arrangement!

Notes from the Flock
Jonathan Cohen

Air Cannon
The Buzzards’ Ballet
Morning Flight

Jonathan Cohen (b. 1954) holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering but found his passion for music later in life. He has been composing since 2023 and has won the National Flute Association’s Newly Composed Music Competition four times. Notes From The Flock: Ornithologic Observations is a three movement work composed for the Gaithersburg Flute Camp (MD) in 2006.

Une Chanson du Printemps
Phyllis Avidan Louke

American flutist and composer Phyllis Avidan Louke (b. 1954) performs and teaches in the state of Oregon. She has over 70 published compositions, many of which are award winning. Une Chanson du Printemps or “A Song of Spring,” is an original composition. The opening melody evokes a feeling of meandering through a field of springtime flowers. The central section features our bass and alto flute sections playing a variant of the melody.

Bird Songs
Liza Lehmann
arr. Nicole O’Toole

Joel Nolan, soloist

Jennifer Hunt, soloist

Laura Kuncho, soloist

David Deifik, soloist

Lisa Mitchell, soloist

English soprano and composer Liza Lehmann (1862-1918) was known for her vocal compositions. Before marriage, she had a performing career and later became the first president of the Society of Women Musicians. Towards the end of her life she was also a professor of singing at the Guildhall School of Music. Her Bird Songs is a delightful set of five short songs with lyrics written by an author only identified as “A.S.”

Below you can see each poem and pictures of the various birds. Nicole O’Toole has arranged the set of songs in order to feature five different members of the flute orchestra. This is the work’s premiere.

(1) The Woodpigeon

When the harvest all was gathered
In the sunny autumn weather,
To the greenwood, blithe and merry,
We went nutting all together;

And as the woods we wander’d
So dim and dark and green,
We heard a sweet voice calling
Though no one could be seen:

“Two sticks across,
And a little bit of moss;
It’ll do, it’ll do it’ll do, Coo, coo, coo.”

The wild things of the woodlands
Scarce seemed of us afraid;
The blue Jay flash’d before us,
And the squirrel near us played.

We ate our nuts and rested
On a fallen tree, moss-grown,
And still a voice kept calling
In the softest, tend’rest tone:

“Two sticks across,
And a little bit of moss;
It’ll do, it’ll do it’ll do, Coo, coo, coo.”

(2) The Starling

On her nest, with her young,
Sat the starling in the steeple
While below the great bell swung
To the church to call the people.

“Mother, mother”, cried the starlings
“What is that? oh mother, tell!”
“Don’t be frightened, little darlings
‘Tis the great church bell

Ringing out its solemn warning,
That the people far and near
All may know ’tis Sunday morning
And make haste to gather here.

While the organ’s sweetly playing
Little birds need have no fear!
While below the folk are praying
You can sing your hymns up here!”

(3) The Yellowhammer

On a sultry summer morning
Down the dusty road we stray’d,
And plucked the wayside flowers
And ran and laughed and played!

There was not the slightest breeze,
And we wearied of our play,
And then we heard the yellowhammer say:
“A little bit of bread and no cheese!”

Once again we roamed the woodland
When the years had fleeted by
And, poor as mice, we pledged our vows,
My love and I.

We had kissed beneath the trees,
And then we heard again
The yellowhammer say, quite plain
“A little bit of bread and no cheese!”

(4) The Wren

A wren just under my window
has suddenly, sweetly sung;
He woke me from my slumbers
With his sweet shrill tongue.

It was so very early,
The dew-drops were not dry,
And pearly cloudlets floated
Across the rosy sky

His nest is in the ivy
Where his little wife sits all day,
And by her side he sings to her
And never flies far away.

(5) The Owl

Three little owlets
In a hollow tree,
Cuddled up together
Close as could be,

When the moon shone out
And the dew lay wet
Mother flew about
To see what she could get

She caught a little mouse
So velvety and soft,
She caught a little sparrow,
And then she flew aloft

To the three little owlets
In a hollow tree,
Cuddled up together
Close as could be,

“Tu-whoo,” said the old owl
“Isn’t this good cheer?”
“Tu-whit,” said the owlets.
“Thank you, mother dear,
Tu-whit, tu-whit, tu-whit, tu-whit,

Angry Tunes for Flute Ensemble
Michal Rosiak

Polish-born Michal Rosiak (b. 1977) now lives in Brisbane, Australia. He has a graduate degree in Flute Performance and is an active performer and composer. Inspired by the catchy melody of the viral game app “Angry Birds,” Rosiak has composed an inventive work weaving in a few other well-known melodies. See if you can identify all three!

INTERMISSION – 10 minutes

Concerto La Primavera “Spring”
Antonio Vivaldi
arr. Bruce Behnke

I. Allegro
Jessica Volk, soloist
Also featuring Haley Laken, Kimberly Tower

II. Largo e pianissimo sempre
Sarah Andrysiak, soloist
Also featuring Carrie Cormier, Kim Tower, Jeanne Hebert, David Deifik

III. Danza pastorale
Susan Thorne Gagnon, soloist
Also featuring Haley Laken, Kimberly Tower

Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was a prolific composer who wrote about 800 pieces, of which, 500 were concerti. Likely his most famous work, The Four Seasons is a set of four concerti written for the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Today we perform for you Concerto La Primavera (“Spring”) as arranged by Bruce Behnke (b. 1950).

Giacomo Puccini
arr. Shaul Ben-Meir

Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) lived approximately 200 years after Vivaldi. He is well known for his Italian operas, which include Madama Butterfly and Tosca. Puccini wrote Chrysanthemum for string quartet in one night after hearing the news that his friend, the Duke of Savoy, had passed away. The version we present to you was arranged by Shaul Ben-Meir.

Glen Fiddich
Trad. Celtic
arr. Michael T. Coolen

The geographic area near Ireland, Scotland, and Wales is where much of the Celtic culture was born. Our final set of songs come from this area of the world. American ethnomusicologist Michael Coolen has arranged the next two tunes for flute ensemble. The River Fiddich (known for its salmon) and the Glenfiddich Forest are in the northeast of Scotland. As you listen to this arrangement, imagine the swift waters of the river going through the countryside.

The Isle of Skye is the second largest island in Scotland and is known for its rugged landscapes. The arrangement of Skye that we will perform features our bass and alto flutes. Picture a boat gliding over the water through a blanket of mist.

Girls from Farranfore
Trad. Celtic
arr. Dennis W. Ritz

American conductor and composer Dennis W. Ritz (1942-2022) arranged our next two songs for flute orchestra. In Celtic mythology the unicorn is a symbol of purity, innocence, and power. Legend says the unicorn’s horn can purify poisoned water—an indicator of their healing power.

Farranfore is a village in County Kerry, Ireland. The Girls from Farranfore is a reel. In Irish music, reels are for dancing in duple time and often have insistent 16th note motion.

The Londonderry Air
Trad. Celtic
arr. Colin Fleming
Casey Koulalis, soloist

There is much debate around the origin of the song titled “A Londonderry Air for Danny Boy,” also called “Danny Boy” or “Londonderry Air.” Some say the song has origins as early as 1850 in the County of Derry in northern Ireland, but we are unsure. Its modern popularity began around 1910 with recordings later that century by Judy Garland, Andre Boccelli, and Johnny Cash. Irish flutist Colin Fleming (b. 1957) has done this arrangement for flutes.

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

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.