Born in California, Annie Wu first appeared at Carnegie Hall at age 12, as the youngest winner of the National Flute Association’s High School Soloist Competition. Since then she has developed a solo career alongside studies at Harvard and the New England Conservatory, and she works regularly with pianist Feng Niu. Their recital celebrates important flute and piano works by American composers alongside a rarely-heard sonata by the great French flutist Philippe Gaubert, and an arrangement of Debussy’s sultry and epoch-making Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, the work which Pierre Boulez considered to be the beginning of modern music.
ELDIN BURTON (1913-1979)
Sonatina for Flute and Piano
Allegro giocoso; quasi fandango
CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (arr. for Flute and Piano by Karl Lenski)
PHILIPPE GAUBERT (1879-1941)
Sonata No. 1 for Flute and Piano
Modéré - Allegretto vivo
Lent - Allegretto moderato - Tempo I
ROBERT BEASER (b. 1954)
Variations for Flute and Piano
Theme and Variations (Variations 1-5)
Nocturne (Variations 6-10)
Con fuoco (Variations 11-15)
HENRI DUTILLEUX (1916-2013)
Sonatine for flute and piano
Please note that this concert takes place at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Ave., NW.
Of flutist Annie Wu, The Mercury News said, “This artist, it seems, can do anything.” Born in 1996, Wu first received national recognition at the age of 15 as the First Prize winner of the National Flute Association’s 2011 High School Soloist Competition. She is a winner of Astral’s 2015 National Auditions, as well as the First Prize winner of the James Pappoutsakis Flute Competition, Yamaha Young Performing Artist Competition, and YoungArts National Competition, and a 2014 US Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Wu has performed concerti with the Vienna International Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, California Symphony, Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Livermore Amador Symphony, Diablo Symphony Orchestra, and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. As an orchestral flutist, she was a Fellow at the Music Academy of the West, and is an active substitute with the New World Symphony. After winning the special prize at the 2011 National Flute Association’s High School Soloist Competition for the Best Performance of a Commissioned Work–Greg Pattillo’s Three Beats for Beatbox Flute–the composer’s YouTube posting of Wu’s performance has received over two million hits, and its online success has led to performances of the work for the Boston Celebrity Series, a JIVE Company Conference in Las Vegas, and a TED TALK Conference in Vancouver. Wu is currently enrolled in the five-year Dual Degree Program at Harvard University and the New England Conservatory of Music; she will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from Harvard College and a Master of Music degree in Flute Performance from NEC.
A native of Shenyang, China, Feng Niu began studying piano at the age of seven, and made her first public performance at the Shenyang Concert Hall just four years later. The winner of numerous competition honors, Niu was awarded First Prize from the Yamaha National Piano Competition, Second Prize from the Lany Sur Marne International Piano Competition, and Third Prize from the Hong Kong Young Pianist Competition. As the First Prize winner of Yamaha Asia Piano Scholarship, she performed the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor with the Suzhou Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also been featured on concert series for the Shanghai International Spring Music Festival and Shanghai Conservatory. Niu graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 2008 and received her Master of Music degree in Piano Performance, with honors, from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2014, where she studied with Gabriel Chodos. She currently pursues Doctoral studies at the New England Conservatory with Pei-shan Lee.
Some of the most exciting flute repertoire comes from France and the US, and this concert places the two sound worlds side by side. We start in New York with Eldin Burton’s Juilliard homework assignment that became a staple in the American flute repertoire. Then, we enter Debussy’s imaginative take on Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s Afternoon of a Faun, which weaves a French dreamland of lust and passion. And of course, Phillipe Gaubert’s Sonata No. 1 is a nod to the great Paris Conservatory, where a tradition of flutist-composers and flute competitions created a vast new repertoire. The central work on the program will be living American composer Robert Beaser’s Variations for flute and piano, a powerhouse piece that shows the endless possibilities nascent in a simple theme. We end with one of the great French virtuoso works of the 20th century, Henri Dutilleux’s Sonatine. Our program “An American in Paris” showcases the incredible range of the flute’s voice, as well as the distinctive powers of both the French and American traditions.
-Annie Wu, 2017