M Fairlie Kennedy PORTRAIT Simon Berry (Simon)

Windrider/Final Ascent for flute and piano by Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy

“As a flute performer – and as a music editor – I have always been particularly attracted to music that falls on the lines of Jolivet and Dutilleux. That is, music with an eerie yet gorgeous feel of mysticism; music that’s particularly idiomatic for flute, with complex gestures that fit well in the hands, with synthetic scales and swirls of color.

Fairlie-Kennedy had one such piece for flute already. Her 2003 Spirit Man, for flute alone, began to reach the wider flute community after Nina Assimakopoulos’s gorgeous recording on her 2015 album VAYU. In sound, Spirit Man was somewhere between the Jolivet Incantations and Mary Youngblood or R. Carlos Nakai’s music; a mix between the French schools and aspects of both academic and indigenous American sounds.

However, in 2021, ACA and I uncovered mention of another such piece Fairlie-Kennedy had written twenty years before Spirit Man: the 1993 WINDRIDER/FINAL ASCENT: Dance in Memory of Ineke, for flute and piano. It was in manuscript form, buried for decades in her archival papers, without mention elsewhere. And, as we discovered after recovery, it was a Conservatory-level work with that same sense of mysticism and mystic chords; Jolivet in America. This new edition, with the perusal score offered here, was completed last year in 2022. I hope it offers flutists another high-level work, deeply suited to the instrument, which can be used for competitions, masterwork recitals, and other spaces that could use more music by women neglected over the past century. 

The piece opens with a flute soliloquy, optionally and quietly echoed with the piano’s resonance, that shows off both the flute’s tone color and the flute’s technical flexibility. It then moves through dance sections that build from slow to fast, a full cadenza, and a grand climax before ending with quiet, high harmonics or, if you’re in a particularly suitable hall, whistle tones.” – Henry Gale

The score ($18) is available at American Composers Alliance: https://composers.com/composers/margaret-fairlie-kennedy/windrider-final-ascent

For more information, please contact mrflutist@gmail.com. And, to explore more of Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy’s music visit: https://composers.com/composers/margaret-fairlie-kennedy.

For a perusal score, click here.

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