Flutes in Tuscany 2023

Text by Paul Woods

Tereglio is a peaceful hill-top village in northern Tuscany. One street, one shop, one restaurant, a chapel, and a church, all surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. But once a year a group of flutists fill the village with music. We came from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland but also Sweden and Italy. Both baroque flutes and modern flutes were represented together with an excellent team of accompanists, Aaron Burrows (piano), Julian Walker (piano/harpsichord) Julianna Antczak (cello) providing basso continuo.

Each morning began with a hearty breakfast and warm-up sessions led by Liz (baroque) and Sarah (modern). Individual lessons were held during the day and masterclasses were held in the afternoons. Modern flutes were fortunate to have the inspiring presence of Gitte Marcusson who was kind, encouraging and lively. Liz Walker held a masterclass for baroque flutes which was both helpful for the players and also informative for those listening. She was assisted by Beth Stone a baroque specialist who also performed in the baroque concert.

During the week there were four concerts hugely enjoyed by everyone including the village community. First, we were treated to a recital from Liz and Sarah, with both solos and duets showing their mastery of the instrument and their longstanding close collaboration which underpins Flutes in Tuscany. Then we had a recital from this year’s Young Artist, Martha-Lilly Dyer. She played a fascinating programme of work by women composers including:- Mel Bonis sonata, Serenade aux Etoiles by Cecile Chaminade and the standout piece Be Still My Soul by Rhonda Larson ((1) Rhonda Larson ‘Be Still My Soul’ – YouTube). All were played with outstanding technique, musicality, and presence. We were truly spellbound.

A baroque concert with the three students each playing solos, duets and trios and Beth Stone gave a wonderful performance of a Leclair sonata. Another student played the lovely CPE Bach Hamburger sonata on modern flute. The concert concluded with Liz, Beth and Sarah joining the students in a new arrangement for 6 flutes by Liz of a Corelli concerto. A glorious sound in the lovely acoustics of the chapel. Julian and Julianna provide sensitive continuo accompaniments throughout.

The final concert took place in the large church and included everyone on the course playing solos, expertly accompanied by Aaron. Everyone rose to the occasion, conquered their nerves and played very well to a good audience from the village. There were also several ensemble pieces involving piccolo, alto and bass flutes and the concert opened with Leopold Mozart’s Toy symphony complete with virtuoso playing of duck and nightingale!

But despite all this music making there was room for much socialising over breakfast and lunch on the balcony and dinners held outside the church. Conversation wasn’t all about flutes either as the presence of five partners of course attendees enlivened the party. And we also had a day off! Most of us went to visit the local historic town of Lucca where we walked on the walls, explored the maze of narrow pedestrianized streets, sampled ice creams, visited the cathedral, climbed the bell-towers, and saw other churches and museums. A full day in a very lovely place. Others stayed in Tereglio or walked to the next village or explored the dramatic gorge nearby.

We returned to the UK full of happy memories and inspired to improve our playing and to discover more music together. We all benefited from staying a week in such a special place.