While she isn’t the first flute student at West Virginia University to earn high competitive honors, Alyssa Schwartz has broken new ground. As winner of the Oklahoma Flute Society’s Collegiate Competition, she got to debut new music for the flute at their annual Flute Fair.
“I decided it’s the right time for me, in my career and development, to try to participate in national collegiate or young artist competitions to push myself, continue to develop stage presence and the ability to perform under pressure, and build my resume,” said Schwartz.
“As such, I’ve been researching collegiate competitions held in United States, and I’m interested in competitions that might be new to WVU students,” she added. “When I found out that the Oklahoma Flute Society’s Collegiate Competition offered the winner the opportunity to premiere a piece, I felt it was a good competition to pursue.”
Her instincts were correct, as Schwartz took first place in the highly competitive event held at the University of Oklahoma in early April.
The final round of the competition was held on Friday, April 1, and the Gala Concert, which closed out the Society’s 2016 festival, was held Saturday, April 2.
“This was the premiere performance of the piece, ‘Asphyxia’ by Nicole Chamberlain,” Schwartz said. “I’ve never been able to give a world premiere performance before, and it felt like such an honor to be the first one to ever perform this piece. Plus, it was really exciting to perform it for the composer herself.”
Chamberlain is an Atlanta-based composer and flutist whose works have been commissioned and performed by the Atlanta Opera, Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Alias Chamber Ensemble, and many others.
“Asphyxia” incorporates many extended techniques and sonorities more typically found in Eastern music traditions. “It has sections that are very rhythmic and almost ‘rock,’ or have a rather swinging groove,” Schwartz said. “These employ jet whistles, beat-boxing into the flute, foot stomps, pitch bends, and even a loud gasp toward the end of the piece. These sections are contrasted with more lyrical sections, one of which employs many multiphonics and the other of which employs sonorities of a more Eastern quality.”
Schwartz performed Chamberlain’s piece again at the WVU flute studio recital shortly after. You can hear her premiere performance at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCwl4OU_flc.
Schwartz is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at WVU under Associate Professor of Flute Nina Assimakopoulos. She previously earned a Master of Music at WVU, and she received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University under Professor Richard Sherman.
CONTACT: David Welsh, WVU College of Creative Arts
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