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Southern Illinois Flute Choir performed its Fall Concert on Dec. 10, at the First United Methodist Church in Carbondale. (COURTESY)

CARBONDALE - What began as a rather modest effort in Southern Illinois two years ago has blossomed into a lovely meld of harmonies.

The Southern Illinois Flute Choir, consisting of bass and alto flutes, piccolos, and C flutes, performed its Fall Concert on Dec. 10 in First United Methodist Church in Carbondale to a crowd of about eighty music lovers. Special guests included Dr. Timothy Pitchford, who joined the group as featured performer in "Lassus Trombone," and Aaron Zolotor, who played percussion in "African Noel."

Many of the first-time attendees were surprised by the sound of the group. One of them was Dan Cirilla of Cobden, a former band director. "I've never seen or even heard a flute orchestra before. I was impressed," Cirilla said.

Sue Casebeer of Carbondale was also a first-time attendee. "It was wonderful! I won't miss a concert by this group again!" Casebeer said.

The Southern Illinois Flute Choir was resurrected two years ago with the arrival of Douglas Worthen to the Southern Illinois University School of Music. Worthen, a professional flutist from New England who has an abundance of energy and patience, quickly took on the task of rebuilding the once-defunct ensemble.

The group now has 14 flutists of all ages and abilities from novice to experienced. Members come from various communities throughout Southern Illinois, and some travel from as far as Harrisburg for weekly Sunday night practices.

"I want to continue to grow this group while maintaining its diversity no one player should be the focal point. These players have challenged themselves to bring their best for the ensemble, and have become good friends in the process," Worthen said.

So what's up next for the choir? "We have embarked on a rather ambitious project to bring Mark Sparks, the principal flutist of the St. Louis Symphony, to Carbondale to facilitate a master class and then play a concert. We are currently raising funds for the cash match required by granting agencies," Worthen said.

Mark Sparks will visit on Jan. 24, 2011. The visit will begin with the master class at 5 p.m. in Altgeld Hall on the SIU campus. Registration fees are $10 for students (at any level) and $20 for adults. Then Sparks will play a free concert for the public at 7:30 p.m. in Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall. The concert will include works for flute and piano, as well as a duet featuring Sparks and Worthen, and a selection which Sparks will play with the flute choir.

For more information on flute choir activities or supporting or playing with the group, contact Jeannie at 618-457-6731.


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