Flute and Friends celebrate the season

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By Kirsten Laskey

The holiday season possesses a lot of unique qualities – characteristics that do not often appear during the rest of the year. Snow and the spirit of giving are a few features that are highly visible everywhere this time of year, but Los Alamos has a few holiday characteristics of its very own.

For instance, when the season rolls around that is when the Flute and Friends quartet gets busy. They bring their instruments and music to Aspen Ridge Lodge Assisted Living and Sombrillo Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Flute and Friends has put on noon musicals for the Los Alamos Arts Council, and performed at the University of New Mexico Piano Fund Concerts. The quartet has even serenaded shoppers at CB Fox and performed for the Master Gardener’s Christmas party.

For the last two years, the quartet has performed with the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra. This year, the flutists, which included Shari Adams, Marjorie Selden, JoAnn Howell and Laurie McGavran, performed “Joy to the World,” “What Child is This,” “Pat-a-Pan,” “The Icy December” and “Christmas Morning” to a packed house Dec. 12 at White Rock Baptist Church.

Selden said the quartet was invited to play with the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra. “It’s quite an honor to be asked by fellow musicians to play as guest soloists,” she said. “That’s the best compliment you can get.”

Having the flute quartet featured in the concert seemed very fitting for the season, Rosemary O’Connor of the symphony said. “I think it’s quite representative of the Christmas season.”

Although the performance was well received, it did offer an unexpected surprise. Selden said while warming up for the second piece, her flute just suddenly died. “It was an absolute disaster,” she said.

So, she had to get up and get her spare flute, which is actually a 130-year-old antique. Selden said she brings it with her, just in case, but has never had to use it, until now.

Selden has organized the Flute and Friends everywhere she has lived. In the past, she has even organized a 24-flute choir.

“It is a really great opportunity to play many parts with many flutes on each part or one flute on each part,” she said.

This year, the quartet included several experienced musicians. Adams began her flute career in the James H. Bowen High School band and orchestra. She continued to perform in a community band in Vancouver, B.C., and even performed in a bar band with a few musicians on leave from the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Selden started playing the flute in seventh grade, studied music in college and taught music for 16 years in public schools. For 30 years, she has taught as a private teacher for flute, piano and guitar. Since 1980, Selden has been a member of the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra. She founded Flute and Friends in 1960.

Howell, a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) computer scientist, also plays handbells in the Church Belles Quintet and is a member of the White Rock Methodist Church Handbell Choir.

McGavran, is a retired LANL computer scientist who also plays in the Los Alamos Community Winds.