The Flute in Pop Culture: Why Add Flute to That?

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Across one lecture and two performance recitals, my project explores the benefits of incorporating pop-cultural elements into classical flute programming. The lecture investigates the question “why add flute to that?” through analyses of flute history, pop culture history, and the flute’s role across the pop culture timeline. I showcase the flute’s presence in pop culture by performing excerpts, playing pre-recorded audio, and showing visual clips of popular media with significant flute components. In assessing and demonstrating the flute’s contributions within the popular world, I illustrate the possibilities for creative programming on the classical stage. Two accompanying performance recitals put my lecture findings into practice. Each recital presents four musical pairs containing a Western-classical piece and a pop-culture-inspired work. These pairs demonstrate an overarching link, finding commonalities in genre, style, composer, or compositional inspiration. Three supplementary files are included as part of this project: the first is a video of my lecture recital on February 12, 2022, the second is a folder containing audio (and video where applicable) from my performance recital on March 14, 2022, and the third is a folder containing audio from my performance recital on April 24, 2022. The corresponding program notes offer value for classically-trained musicians and music appreciators alike.

In using pop culture to inform classical performance choices, flutists have the potential to keep classical programming fresh, surprising, and relatable. Integrating the classical and popular realms not only expands possibilities of repertoire and instrumentation, but diversifies the pool of composers to include those who have been historically excluded. Innovatively building off the classical music canon also attracts new audiences, increasing the longevity and support of the concert hall. In addition to amplifying performance opportunities within the classical tradition, juxtaposing classical and popular music challenges flutists to exercise invaluable listening, transcribing, arranging, practice, and performance skills. Through exploring the popular ecosystem, flutists can achieve true musical creativity, expression, and flexibility, fully-realizing the versatility of their instruments and their beings.