Get to Know...Ashley Shank
Have you ever wondered who writes the FNMC composer and member spotlights? That would be me! Let me introduce myself (and write in the first person this time), I’m Ashley Shank, the FNMC Grants and Finance Chair. You might wonder, how does the person assigned to the financial side of the organization end up writing features? It’s actually pretty easy, FNMC started with four founding members and grew slowly. Although we all have somewhat defined roles, we also pitch-in and get things done as needed! Although I came to this role kind of by accident (and intending it to be temporary), organizing and writing the composer and member spotlights has become one of my favorite duties. I love learning more about the composers and our members and playing an active role in promoting their music and activities. I also enjoy getting to know them more as people; I will tell you that it is an amazing group of really lovely individuals!
In addition to doing all the boring (but really necessary) financial paperwork and having the primary responsibility for grant applications, I served as a preliminary round judge for the chamber music category of the 2014 FNMC Composition Competition, coordinated flute fair proposals, performed or presented at KFS Festival, Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention and NFA Convention on behalf of FNMC, acted as interim membership and communications chair, and help edit the website (mostly the spotlights and upcoming performances pages), and our Facebook page. I’m also the board liaison for the Carter Pann residency at IUP. I’m looking forward to attending the residency events and presenting the awards for our FNMC Flute Artist Competition on behalf of the board.
Q&A with Ashley (me)…
When did you join FNMC and what attracted you to the organization?
I joined as soon as Shelley approached me when she was forming FNMC. I love new music and I thought the idea of a consortium approach was a great idea. I’m so happy she asked me to join and it has been incredibly rewarding to see how the organization has grown, demonstrate that we’re meeting our goals, and be an integral part of those developments!
What about new music for the flute appeals to you?
I’ve always loved playing new and/or lesser known flute repertoire. I love listening to recordings, scanning repertoire catalogs, flute journals, etc. to find pieces that others may not know (and that I think they should.) I was also really fortunate to do my undergraduate work at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where Jack Stamp was the Director of Bands. Dr. Stamp is incredibly supportive of new music for band and actively encourages composers to write for the ensemble. As a result, we premiered multiple new works every year and had the opportunity to interact with emerging and experienced composers. I think this reinforced my love of new music!
FNMC has provided me with the opportunity to learn about the music of many composers with whom I might otherwise have not become familiar. I’ve enjoyed performing several winning and finalists works from the composition contest including: Ghost Stations for flute and piano by Alexandra Bryant; French Quarter for flute quartet by Nicole Chamberlain; What’s Next for flute, bassoon, and piano by Andrew Davis; Tutti Frutti for Two Virtuoso Flutti by John Moody; Tomorrow in Australia for solo flute by Paul Richards; In Memoriam: Sacagawea for four flutes by Greg Steinke, and there are several more I hope to program during upcoming seasons. I’ve become particularly fond of a couple of the works and I’m working to champion them and help them obtain the recognition I think they deserve! I was a commissioner for our first project, Confluence by Zhou Long, and I’m one of the commissioning members for the Carter Pann project, and I’ll be joining for the new Valerie Coleman commission as well. I also have a plan for some individual commissions in the next year or so.
Who is/are your favorite “new music” composer/s and why?
I’m always really bad at favorites type questions….I’m not great at decision making in general as anyone who has ever gone to a restaurant with me can attest! I will say, I love what is sometimes called “holy minimalism” (Tavener, Part, Gorecki, etc. which I realize isn’t necessarily new anymore) and I really love Russian/Soviet music. When I decided to pursue an MM in music history, it just made sense to research it! I continued my focus on Russian/Soviet music in my doctoral studies and created A Handbook of Solo and Chamber Literature for Flute by Composers from Russia and the Former Soviet Republics as my doctoral thesis. It contains almost 3,000 pieces, most of which are little or unknown outside their country of origin. I hope to finally publish it online this summer and I plan to expand it using an approach like the Grove where individual flutists can “author” annotated entries about individual pieces. A few living composers from Russia or the former Soviet republics whose flute music I really love are (in alphabetical order): Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (Azerbaijani), Josef Bardanashvili (Georgian/Jewish lives in Israel), Sophia Gubaidulina (Tatar/Russian), and Giya Kancheli (Georgian). I love Alexey Kurbatov’s Quartet for flute, violin, cello, and piano; I randomly found it on YouTube while looking for recordings. We recently made contact via email and I’ve added him to the revised edition of my thesis. A few others include Eugene Magalif (he’s Belarusian, but lives in NJ; his music is pretty and poppy), Yevhan Stanyovch (Ukranian; I especially love his Sonata of Serenades…it’s so dark and intense!), and Benjamin Yusapov (Tajik and I think Jewish…he lives in Israel); he has several amazing pieces, some of which include folk instruments. Many flutists may have heard Matthais Ziegler perform his incredible Nola Concerto at the NFA conventions in New York City.
Describe your musical background and current activities
I have a rather atypical background for a professional flutist. I began my career as a public school music educator, I love teaching and I struggled with severe performance anxiety from an early age, so that seemed like a perfect fit. Currently, I have what one would call a multi-stream or portfolio career. I teach flute and chamber music at Lycoming College and music education courses at Susquehanna University where I am also the director of the Music Preparatory Program. I also coordinate the curriculum and teach classes for our early childhood music classes and our partnership with the local Head Start organization, and supervise all of the undergraduate students who teach through the program. I’m also an active freelancer in North-Central Pennsylvania. I have several other jobs to supplement as necessary (the life of an adjunct is something of a feast and famine situation.) I do some online teaching, work as a content editor for a company that offers online music classes, and I still substitute teach between semesters, as necessary. I definitely crave more stability, but I am so grateful to have the opportunities to teach and play!
More about Ashley (me)…
Dr. Ashley Shank teaches flute and chamber music at Lycoming College and music education courses at Susquehanna University where she is the Director of the Music Preparatory Program. An active freelancer in North-Central Pennsylvania, she is also a member of the Keystone Wind Ensemble and co-principal flute of IFC3.
Dr. Shank is an advocate of new music and music by composers from Russia and the former Soviet Republics. www.ashleyshankflute.weebly.com
Get to Know...Terri Wacker
We’re so grateful that Therese (Terri) Wacker, Professor of Flute at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, joined FNMC and agreed to host the residency for our Carter Pann commission. Terri has planned a wonderful recital for her premiere of Giantess featuring several of her colleagues at IUP. Along with her performance of Giantess, the recital will feature the IUP Faculty Woodwind Quintet (Terri, flute; Stephanie Caulder, oboe; Rosemary Engelstad, clarinet; Jason Worzbyt, bassoon, and Heidi Lucas, horn) in a performance of Carter’s wind quintet and piano professors Sun Min Kim and Henry Wong Doe will each perform a movement from Carter’s The Piano’s 12 Sides.
Terri has embraced FNMC and coordinated a proposal for a recital of FNMC works at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention. She performed Stephen Lias’ work for solo flute, Flight of Fancy, and was joined by Keith Hanlon for a performance of another of Stephen’s works, The Ghosts of Mesa Verde for two flutes. The recital also featured a performance of Garuda for flute alone by Alex Nante (Keith) and Ashley Shank played Tomorrow in Australia by Paul Richards and Confluence by Zhou Long. In addition to being FNMC members, all three flutists have connections to IUP where Terri is Professor of Flute, both Keith and Ashley earned their bachelor’s degrees at IUP (Ashley was a student of Terri’s) and they all play in IUP’s faculty/alumni wind ensemble the Keystone Wind Ensemble. Keystone specializes in recording wind band music.
Terri is an active commissioner and performer of new music. She commissioned and premiered Bruce Yurko's Concerto for Piccolo/Flute & Wind Ensemble in February, 2003. On October 10, 2010 she performed the World Premiere of Eric Ewazen’s “Concerto for Piccolo and Wind Ensemble,” which was the result of three years collaboration with the composer and Jan Gippo (former piccoloist with the St. Louis Symphony). Currently, she and her colleague Kevin Eisensmith are coordinating a consortium commission for a new work for alto flute, flugelhorn, and piano by Daniel Dorff. Those who would like to learn more can contact Terri.
Q&A with Terri…
What about new music for the flute appeals to you?
The opportunity to explore new colors and characters of the flute through new musical ideas.
What is/are your favorite “new music” piece/s and why?
I don't have specific favorites but I'm drawn toward pieces that have a rhythmic groove and accessible melody. Pieces that tell a story through the music are very interesting to me.
What advice can you give to flutists about approaching new music in practice?
I always try to figure out the final 'story' of the piece. Then I apply my practicing accordingly. For instance, I will spend much more time on the technical parts of a piece - however, I take the time to make sure that the technical parts flow into the surrounding elements-even at a slow tempo.
Describe your musical background and current activities.
I'm currently a full professor at Indiana University of PA. Before getting my DMA at The Ohio State University I was a member of the AF Band of Flight at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH.
Do you have any upcoming events that you would like our friends and followers to know about?
I've just finished a performance at the Mid Atlantic Flute Convention where I performed Stephen Lias' Flight of Fancy and his Ghost's of Mesa Verde - a flute duo with Keith Hanlon. I have an upcoming premiere of Carter Pann's Giantess for the FNMC and several WW5 performances with my IUP colleagues.
More About Terri…
Dr. Therese Wacker, Professor of Flute at IUP, earned the D.M.A. from The Ohio State University (Katherine Borst Jones) and the M.M. from the University of Wyoming (Katherine Kemler). As a member of the AF Band of Flight she toured the US and Europe as a performer and clinician. She has written articles for Flute Talk, The Instrumentalist, The Flute Examiner and is contributing editor to The Complete Piccolo, her CD Impressions for Piccolo and Piano is available through CD Baby or by contacting her directly: email@example.com, ThereseWacker.com.