It was sometime during the 2009 season, and flutists Amy Likar and Rena Urso were sitting in a rehearsal in their orchestra, the Oakland Symphony when each got the brilliant idea of putting together a chamber ensemble. They talked about it for a while, tossed around creative ideas, brainstormed on names for the group, what repertoire they’d do, and where they could perform. Most importantly, they asked one another; what contribution could they make to the chamber music world as flutists that everyone else wasn’t already doing? A conversation with their favorite San Francisco collaborative pianist Miles Graber was all that was left in order to seal the deal; just like that, the Alcyone Ensemble was born.
The Alcyone Ensemble is not your average two-flute-and-piano ensemble. They truly think outside the box and try to push creative boundaries all the time. Seriously, how many 2 piccolo and accordion groups have you heard perform recently? If you’ve been to an Alcyone Ensemble concert, then chances are you’ve heard one!
Some memorable recent performances include Trinity Concerts in Berkeley, CA, the Annual “Bach and Brew” for the Oakland Symphony, the National Flute Association’s Annual Convention in Las Vegas and Chicago, and here at home for the San Francisco Music Thursday’s at the Center for New Music.
What else makes this collaboration unique? Amy and Rena are both Licensed Body Mapping Educators (Association for Body Mapping Education) and travel all over the US and EU presenting workshops, lectures, and masterclasses.
Among their favorite collaborations are those with composers. Showcasing new and exciting works of the flute ensemble repertoire is something Alcyone Ensemble is passionate about. In 2013, the group ran a successful crowd sourcing campaign and commissioned a new work by the brilliant New York based composer Daniel Felsenfeld entitled “Blister and Wow.” This 3 movement, 11-ish minute work is scored for two flutists and piano, but here’s the catch: Amy and Rena each play piccolo, flute, and alto flute! Blister and Wow, indeed! (Side note: Miles is grateful that he only has to play the piano, 1 pianist, 2 hands!). Another recent commission is a beautiful three movement work for two flutes, cello, and piano, “Suite for Piano Quartet” by fellow Body Mapping Educator, Portland based pianist/composer Lisa Marsh.
As much fun as it is to introduce new works to their audiences, Alcyone also loves to keep the classics of J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach and Doppler in their regular rotation. Rena and Amy enjoy performing Baroque period works on their modern flutes with wooden head joints – their little way of giving a nod to the style and colors of the beautiful Baroque flute.
Alcyone Ensemble receives fiscal sponsorship from InterMusic SF and is honored to be a part of their affiliate program. If you would like to contribute to future commissioning projects or concerts, please click here to make your tax deductible donation. Be sure to choose “Alcyone Ensemble” in the pull down menu … of course!
For more detailed info on Amy, visit her at www.amylikar.com
For more detailed info on Rena, visit her at www.renaurso.com