Five reasons to fall in love with contemporary flute repertoire

Hi, my name is Renata Kambarova, I am a classically trained flutist and I play mostly contemporary repertoire. I didn’t always wanted to specialize in new music and I didn’t always liked Pierrot Lunaire or Gérard Grisey’s Vortex Temporum, and now they are in my « big old classics » list. Today I wanted to share with you what I discovered about today’s repertoire and what made me like it!

1 – You can experience today’s world pulse!

May it be minimalism, new complexity, or one of the many other sub-genres of the contemporary music world, you can tune to something that wasn’t made two hundreds years ago, that was inspired by something that you have experienced yourself – today’s world, with its people, problems and new ideas.

2 – You can actually talk with the composer…

… and give him your opinion! It can sound intimidating and in the beginning I myself felt quite uncomfortable when rehearsing and performing in front of the creator himself. But once that you got used to this sudden close contact with the actual living being who wrote the score, it’s really rewarding to discover that the big majority of the composers are happy with the simple fact that their pieces are performed and in general be willing to answer your questions, explain their inspiration and to give feedback on your version.

3 – You can take part in the creative process!

When you are lucky to premiere a piece, the composer will often be happy to open the process to some degree of collaboration. Very often composers look for new sounds and new ways to write them. Because of that, both of you will have to explore your instrument in a way that is not described in books and not taught at school. In this stage your feedback is something very useful for the composer and sometimes your own story, background or ideas can become a source of inspiration and, who knows, maybe influence the piece.

4 – It gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience

When you take part in a concert and your piece was written after 1950 and is not in a standard style then it is often appreciated that you make a little presentation before playing it : some biographic facts, the inspiration or the idea behind it, or maybe even a funny little story… While some people are arguing that by doing so we pollute the public’s pure perception of the piece, I, on the contrary, strongly disagree. I think it’s a great opportunity to break this invisible wall that forbids us, classically trained musicians, to speak with our pubic, to engage with the many people who came to listen a live performance when they had the majority of the written music at their fingertips on their smartphone in the comfort of their homes. If live concerts have survived to the massive arrival of the recorded music in our lives, I have the feeling that it is more logical to take every chance to unite with the audience and to live this human connection to the fullest.

5 – You will get better in your classical repertoire

I didn’t expect this side effect, but this is how my playing evolved: I was engaged in dozens of concerts where I had to do nothing but air sounds, tongue rams and other slaps. I was afraid that the extended techniques would cause damage to my classical sound, that it will become airy and I wouldn’t be able to perform Bach’s Partita with a centered sound anymore… How happy was I when I discovered that multiphonics made my lips and my support stronger, that all these airy sounds made my phrasing better, and most precious to me, it made my expressive skills much more convincing.