Get to Know...Amber Beams
It is always interesting to learn what inspired people to become composers and to write for the flute. Several of our finalists and winners are at least amateur flutists and their understanding of the instrument surely informs their successful composition for the instrument. However, it was not her flute playing that inspired Amber to be a composer, but playing in a handbell ensemble! This week, get to know Amber Beams composer of Calls for solo flute, a finalist work in the solo flute category of the 2016 FNMC Composition Competition.
Q&A with Amber…
Describe your musical background and current activities.
I began composing after joining the handbell ensemble during my undergraduate studies at the University of Indianapolis. After becoming completely memorized by the sounds that this ensemble could produce, I began to explore a darker and more modern approach to the ensemble. In 2012, I completed and premiered my first composition entitled "The Mouse Ran Down the Clock" for handbells and after its success I moved my focus to composition.
What are your favorite "new music" pieces and why?
Two of my favorite new music pieces would have to be "running the edgE " for two flutes and piano, by Jennifer Higdon and "Their House Was Around Here, Somehwere..." for piano and chamber ensemble by Michael Schelle. Higdon's piece holds a soft spot in my heart after performing it with my flute instructor, Anne Reynolds as part of my senior recital. While Schelle's piece has inspired me to mix different instrumental colors together to create something beautiful that may first appear unusual.
What advice can you give to flutists about approaching new music in practice?
Don't be afraid and go in with an open mind. Today's composers are always looking for ways to break new barriers and to create new/unusual sounds. Going into practice with an open mind will allow you to better understand what the composer was trying to create. Luckily for us, most composers are just an e-mail away and if you are able to contact them please do! As a composer, I love hearing from my performers and any suggestions they may have to make something easier to play or to understand.
More About Amber…
Amber Beams (b. 1989) earned a minor in Applied Music from Indiana-University-Purdue-University of Indianapolis in 2010. She earned her bachelor's degree cum laude at the University of Indianapolis where she studied composition with John Berners,electronic composition with Pete Schmutte and flute with Anne Reynolds.Amber recently completed her Masters in Music Composition at Butler University in Indianapolis where she studied with Micahel Schelle and Frank Felice. As a composer, she has received coaching from many respected composers including Carter Pann,
William Bolcom, Gabriella Lena Frank, Michael Schelle, Frank Felice, and David Gompper.
Amber is also a freelance flutist in the Indianapolis area and plays regularly with the Indianapolis Symphonic Band and serves on their board. www.beamsmusic.weebly.com
If you liked Calls….
Pieces of Time, flute and piano (2016)
The Flute New Music Consortium is an organization dedicated to the creation and support of new music for the flute.