In the first of our "Meet Our Resident Flutists" series, we asked Flute Center Resident Flutist Alyssa Mena for her Top 5 Pieces. Here are her picks!
The first time I heard a recording of this piece I fell in love with it. It’s an absolute delight of a piece! It was always a bucket list piece for me to learn until I finally had the chance to work on it with my teacher Jim Walker during my Masters degree. All four movements are equally as challenging for both of the performers, but also equally as rewarding! What I love the most about this piece is how much potential there is for expression – while many moments in this piece are both beautiful and solemn, many moments are also dance-like and fun! I find a piece like this sets the stage for so many creative possibilities.
I love this Concerto so much – it truly feels like an ethereal journey at times (with virtuoistic crazy passages– truly a wild ride!)! I love the cinematic feeling in Liebermann’s compositions, just from the very beginning of the first movement I feel like I am transported elsewhere until the very end. It is truly a gorgeous piece! The technical passages are definitely challenging all throughout, but they are extremely fun to play. I have really fond memories of working on this piece during my undergraduate with my teacher Trudy Kane. The first time I ever prepared this piece was for a masterclass for James Galway during my undergraduate. I later ended up using this piece again when auditioning to schools for my Masters degree.
I love Valerie Coleman’s music, and this was the first piece of hers that I ever played. I worked on this piece during my undergraduate degree as well, and I had so many great memories playing it for my teacher Trudy. It’s a piece I return to a lot even to the present day. I can feel myself expressing my own voice when I play it, and feel like I can just have fun the whole way through. I love the imagery of the butterfly dancing and soaring through the sky. I have fond memories of performing the piece for Valerie in person as well that remind me of why I love this piece too! This is a work that I will always hold dear to me.
I always have so much fun playing Piazzolla’s music – I love the rhythm and energy, and the potential of beautiful expressive moments. The Tango Etudes in particular have so many possibilities for changing colors, moods, and expressing flair and style. Each etude presents different challenges for the performer. I have really fun memories working on this one during my Masters with Jim. He challenged me one semester to work on every Tango Etude on each flute I owned (C flute, alto flute, and piccolo). I remember that being a way for me to become a lot more comfortable switching between the auxiliaries. I personally found the alto flute to really shine on some of those etudes in particular! (I love playing alto)
Now here is a piece that is still on my bucket list to officially perform on a stage. I can hear recordings of this work on repeat and it gives me goosebumps every time. It is one of the most gorgeous pieces of music I’ve ever heard. I absolutely love the imagination and creativity that can arise when playing chamber music and collaborating with others– and a piece like this is a perfect example of that: with so many possibilities to explore, playing this work sincerely feels like making magic to me.