Saturday, September 24, 2011

Centenary's Dr. Todd Gabriel to debut flute composition at NSU, Thursday 9-29-2011

Courtesy of an NSU David West news release -


Dr. Todd Gabriel on viola
 A casual conversation just over a year ago led to a rare opportunity for the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra: the debut of Todd Gabriel’s Four Attitudes Made with 12 Tones Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is $10 for non-season ticket holders and free for Northwestern State University, Louisiana School for Math, Sciences and the Arts and BPCC@NSU students with a current I.D. Dr. Douglas Bakenhus conducts the orchestra.

Four Attitudes Made with 12 Tones features Northwestern State Professor of Flute Dennette McDermott. Gabriel and McDermott each perform in the Longview and Shreveport Symphony Orchestras.

“One day Todd told me he had been listening to me play and asked if he could write a composition for me,” said McDermott. “I am honored he did this. Most flutists don’t have this type of opportunity to have something written for them. Most pieces are for flute and piano, but a work for orchestra allowed Todd to work with the whole box of crayons instead of just a couple of magic markers.”

This is the first time Gabriel wrote a flute composition in almost a decade. His late wife, Katherine Kitzman, was a flutist and Gabriel wrote several compositions for her.

“I avoided writing for the flute until now,” said Gabriel, a professor of theory/composition and conductor of the Hurley School of Music Orchestra at Centenary College. “Katherine had a large library of flute music which I gave to Dennette for her and the university to use. That’s how the relationship began.”

Gabriel has attended several orchestra rehearsals to hear the orchestra play his work.

“The orchestra has done a good job,” he said. “They seem to be enjoying it.”

According to Gabriel, he doesn’t begin to write a composition with an end result in mind.

“Ideas start small then it’s like putting a puzzle together,” he said. “You have a general idea about the characteristics, and as you go, you make decisions along the way that can take you in different directions. It starts to form its own life. You get a version and everything works out.”

Writing 12 Tones with McDermott in mind did help the process.

“Sometimes when you start a piece, you have nothing to relate to, but this is more of a character piece,” said Gabriel. “It’s not necessarily Dennette as a person, but takes into account her approach to the flute. I wrote it considering her strengths as a player.”

McDermott has practiced 12 Tones for months and appreciates Gabriel’s approach.

“The piece has elements of modern style and also draws on traditional elements,” said McDermott. “It also has some rock and roll and bluesy parts. There is a lot packed in there. It’s very clever.”

Also on the program will be Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C major, “The Great.”

For more information on the concert, contact Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Society President Marilyn McMurtry at 238-2312 or at

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