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Flute quartet captivates audience at Howard Brubeck Theatre

The Flûtes de Salon quartet played at the Palomar College Howard Brubeck Theatre Oct. 29, hosted by Palomar’s Concert Hour.

The quartet, formed in 2010, plays a variety of music ranging from late 19th Century classical to modern jazz and is composed of four flutists: Cathy Blickenstaff, Cindy Broz, Tracy Goodwin, and Ruth Mayhew.

Each member possesses exceptional knowledge in the musical category, has mastered at least three different types of flutes, and all have college backgrounds.

The quartet played six pieces at Concert Hour that lasted about one hour. Each piece was composed by artists that range from the late 1880s, mid-1900s and the 21st century.

The first piece, titled “Clowning Around,” and originally composed by Katherine Hoover, presented a frisky opening that prepared the audience for the clownish tune. Each member of the quartet hit each note spot-on and ended the piece cheerfully, leaving the audience in anticipation for the next song.

“Falconer,” the next piece, was originally composed by Catherine McMichael and consists of four parts, each with their own specific name and musical story. During this four-part set, the melody varied drastically and allowed each member of the quartet to utilize her specific flute.

“On Seeing Castle Stalker,” the first part of “Falconer,” started off with a slow, high and joyful melody passed back and forth between each flutist.

This particular section of the song presented a beautiful, symphonic harmony that required each quartet member to communicate using eye contact and exaggerated facial expressions.

When asked about their communication methods, Blinkenstaff stated “Since there’s no conductor, we have to communicate a lot.”

Broz chimed in by explaining “Often we’ll have notes written in our music so we know when to start and cut off. We all have our cues.”

All four quartet members eventually developed their own separate melodies at lower and higher octaves that, although were slightly different from each other, correlated immaculately.

Flûtes de Salon then swiftly eased audience members to the next part of “Falconer” titled “Snow on Ben Nevis.”

Epic from the start, “Snow on Ben Nevis” painted a medieval fantasy illusion of woodland creatures frolicking through an enchanted forest. During this part, one could close their eyes and let this illusion manifest, creating a story behind the soothing harmony and fast-paced melody.

This fantastical section of the piece gradually transferred to “Aire of the Falconer,” which painted a picture of a lonely Sylvan, perhaps the last of its kind, sitting at the base of a majestic waterfall. The slow, sad harmonics coupled with a comforting backdrop to create a sorrowful atmosphere.

The fourth and final section of this piece, “Stalcaire Reel,” woke audience members up with a high, blissful note that gave the previous lonely Sylvan hope. Fast-paced and quick changes in the high octave gave off the feeling of a happy ending to “Falconer.”

Flûtes de Salon not only presented audience members at the Howard Brubeck Theater with a compelling and exciting show, they brought their passion and love for music with them.

“We can’t not have this,” said Blickenstaff. “We can’t not play our flutes.”

After their set, Cindy Broz, the founder of Flûtes de Salon, explained how their name came about.

“I like 19th century salon music, and when you think of music that is played in a small setting during this time, it was played in a salon or parlor. We can play on a large scale, but we mostly do intimate concerts. So Flûtes de Salon is French for ‘Flutes in the parlor.’”

The Concert Hour program gave a brief bio, derived from their website, about each member of the quartet.

Cathy Blinkenstaff obtained a master’s degree in Flute Performance from the University of Colorado and performs regularly with the La Jolla Orchestra. She has also worked with Point Loma Nazarene for over 10 years and is currently a freelance flutist in California and Colorado.

Cindy Broz, the founder of Flûtes de Salon, earned her bachelor’s degree in Flute Performance from the university. According to her bio, Broz currently serves on the boards of the San Diego Flute Guild, the Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia and several other committees for the National Flute Association. Broz also writes articles for the magazine Flute Talk and Flutist Quarterly.

Tracy Goodwin (playing piccolo, c flute and the alto) earned her bachelor’s of music from San Francisco Conservatory of Music and her master’s degree at UCSB. Goodwin has played in concerts with American composer Chris Botti and the English rock star Sting.

Ruth Mayhew (specializing in piccolo, c flute and the only member who utilized the bass flute) earned her bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and her master’s from Northwestern University in Illinois. Mayhew has completed 11 seasons as Symphony Pro Musica’s principal flutist and has also played for President Bill Clinton.

To read more about this quartet, visit their website at


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