Winter Spirits by Katherine Hoover
What better piece to listen to in January than the contemporary flute solo Winter Spirits. With Christmas tunes well behind us, this piece draws upon a very different sound world.
It is a contemporary flute sound with beautiful melodies, without an excess of extended techniques commonly found in late 20th Century and modern music.
Written in 1997, the piece is influenced by Native American sounds and traditions. Even on a powerful metal flute, the music invites the player to use a hollow, almost wooden tone colour (in my head this is always yellow!).
Many different characters come through the piece, possibly reflecting the different types of spirits that can be evoked.
Katherine Hoover put it into her own words:
“There is a picture by the marvelous artist Maria Buchfink of a Native American flute player; from his flute rises a cloud of kachinas and totem spirits. This piece has also risen from his notes, and it is indeed influenced by Native American music. The idea of the flute invoking beneficial spirits, be they kachinas or any others, is a very natural one. Such spirits are an accepted and valued part of life in most of the world, and the flute has been used to honor and invite their presence for countless ages.”
Katherine Hoover wrote many wonderful pieces for the flute including Kokopeli, Reflections and Spirit Flight. Her distinctive and fascinating voice comes through in each composition, they all tell a story with vivid imagery. After performing successes, she focussed on composition in the early 1970s and faced obstacles as an aspiring female composer. The American composer and flautist passed won the National Flute Association’s (US) lifetime achievement award in 2016. Ms. Hoover passed away in September 2018.