CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In 1995, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth presented flutist William Bennett with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his distinguished services to music. He has been called the “greatest living flute player in the world,” and musicians across the globe dream of someday studying under his guidance.
This week, a lucky few of those individuals are coming to Austin Peay State University to participate in the William Bennett Summer Flute Academy. Bennett himself is staying on campus to lead the program, and at 7:30 p.m. on June 28, he’ll give a public performance at APSU’s Music/Mass Communication Building’s Concert Hall.
“This is a weeklong master class, where people from all over the country submitted audition CDs in order to play in the class program and receive instruction and criticism,” Dr. Lisa Vanarsdel, APSU professor of music, said. “We have people coming from California, New York, Georgia, Illinois. We have someone from as far as Vienna, Austria.”
Vanarsdel previously studied under Bennett in master classes, and she helped bring him to APSU in fall of 2011 as an Acuff Chair of Excellence recipient. During that visit, the Gateway Chamber Orchestra performed a concert with him, titled “The Artistry of William Bennett.”
This Thursday’s event offers the Clarksville community a rare encore performance by one of the world’s leading musicians. That evening’s program will also feature an eclectic mix of works, from rarely heard pieces to compositions easily recognizable by the audience.
“We’ll do a piece by Ian Clarke, called ‘Touching the Either,’” Bennett said. “It’s about him reaching out and making contact with his deceased mother. Then there’s ‘The Jet Whistle,’ by Villa-Lobos. It’s actually for a flute and cello, but I’ve made it a flute and piano, which is much better. Then we’re going to play the ‘Swan Lake Fantasy’ by Tchaikovsky.”
The APSU Department of Music is asking for donations of $10 for adults and $5 for students to attend Thursday’s concert. A few spots also remain open for members of the community to audit the William Bennett Summer Flute Academy. The cost is $150 a day or $350 for the week.
In 2002, Bennett was awarded the National Flute Association's “Lifetime Achievement Award” and in 2003 he was appointed the British Flute Society's “Flautist Laureate.” In 2004 he was awarded the title of "Flute of Gold" from the Italian "Falaut" Flute Society. In 2009 he was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by Chicago Flute Club.
For more information on the concert or the academy, contact the APSU Department of Music at 221-7818.