The SPOGreatMusic Performance Series: S42E12

Release Date: February 18, 2022

“Flute Music by Women Composers: An International Online Festival” February 3 – 28, 2022

On this twelfth episode of our SPOGreatMusic Performance Series (Season 42, 2021/2022), we’re pleased to present the following videos celebrating women composers and the magic of the flute:


  Amanda Lowry’s “Fight/Flight/Freeze” for processed Flute and Electronics

Performed by Amanda Lowry, flute

“Fight/Flight/Freeze” (2021), for amplified flute and electronics, explores the collective experience of stress, trauma, and uncertainty that we have all endured these last two years. The form of the piece was derived from a graph of daily new COVID-19 cases in Ontario from the beginning of the pandemic until December 14, 2021. Musical representations of each of the three stress responses are mapped onto those familiar peaks and valleys which attempt to distill the unfathomable magnitude of so many lives into something vaguely comprehensible. Excerpts from the diary of Ms. Imogene Lockwood, a young woman who was training to be a nurse in California during the 1918 influenza pandemic, are heard throughout, her words still relevant and resonant a century later.

Audio recorded, edited, and mixed by Amanda Lowry. Video edited by Jasmine Tsui.


  Elaine Ross’ “The Distant Light” for Flute, Horn, and Piano

Performed by the Rivermist Ensemble (Jennifer McElroy, flute / Dr. Candace Neal, horn / Biliana Dimitrova, piano)

Programme Notes: “The Distant Light” (2003) for flute, horn, and piano was written in 2003 for Jerry Peel, Professor of Horn at the University of Miami and Erica Peel, flutist in the Honolulu Symphony. The work is lyrical throughout with contrasting sections harmonically. The opening A section explores tri-tone relationships and is more motivic with a “mystical” effect. The B section presents an espressivo horn melody with a late romantic flavor. The overall form is arch-like (A-B-C-B’-A’) with modified versions of the B and then A sections returning.

This piece is based on the following original poem by Eliane Ross:


An ominous night with a lone star, Light mist becomes heavy all around, Like water gushing from afar, It has a clarity of sound, To let us know, indeed we are,

Aware of ghosts that hover round. Spirits fly between each breath, Voices talk, yet seldom speak, Without evoking some new thought, That renders one both strong and weak.

It shimmers once, then more, Stopping seldom, sparkling anew, Sinking stones cannot soar, Buried in the depths of blue, Open the forbidden door, The Distant Light will guide you through.


  Elizabeth Raum’s “Conversations” for Flute and Piano

Performed by Lesley Duff, flute, and Talisa Blackman, piano

Five movements for flute and piano describing the various types of conversations friends might have.

Audio produced by Ronald Royer. Audio recorded at Desert Fish Studios, Toronto, by Jeff Wolpert, engineer. Audio mixed by Brandon Walker. Video edited by Devin Scott (Executive Director, The Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra and Executive Producer/Editor SPOGreatMusic Digital Content), with additional editing by Eero Daniel-Raum and cartoons by Geneva LaFoy.


  Katherine Hoover’s “Spirit Flight”

Performed by Eric Tapia

Programme Notes: “Spirit Flight” was originally commissioned by flutist Wendela van Swol, of Cordoba, Spain. Best known for her solo flute piece “Kokopeli”, Katherine Hoover has created a wonderwork with “Spirit Flight”. The soaring flute vocal lines earn this special title, using every bit of the instrument’s range and dynamic qualities. For advanced flutists.


  Nova Pon’s “Wrenegade”

Performed by Mark Takeshi McGregor, flute

Programme Notes from the performer: Times are strange right now, so one needs to create reasons to celebrate where one can. For me, this video is absolutely a cause for celebration, because it represents the end of a major multi-year project for me: to create three music videos of solo flute music by Canadian composers with strong connections to Pacific Rim culture and/or heritage. Nova Pon‘s piece Wrenegade is a virtuosic showpiece inspired by the call of the Pacific Wren — but more than that, it’s a response to my lifelong fear of birds (and also my fascination with that fear). By presenting the wren’s song at various speeds (including “as fast as humanly possible”), Pon gives us a glimpse into the sound world with which birds communicate, all the while lightheartedly playing with the old trope of the flutist as the extrovert, flamboyant exponent of birdlike virtuosity. The video was filmed by Mark Mushet in Musqueam territory (aka Pacific Spirit Park on UBC campus) with the playful, oh-so-kawaii animations of Cindy Mochizuki.

Performer and Composer Bios

AMANDA LOWRY is a performer and improviser, a composer and sound designer, and a singer-songwriter. Her debut album of original songs, Find Your Light, was released in 2021, and is available on all streaming platforms. She is currently a member of the board of directors for the Association of Canadian Women Composers.

Amanda’s flute playing focuses on contemporary and electroacoustic repertoire, improvisation, and music by Canadian women composers. She has commissioned and premiered many new works. As a composer, Amanda writes primarily electronic and electroacoustic music, usually in collaborative settings such as theatre, performance art, and inter-media installations. She has studied composition with Colin Labadie, Norbert Palej, Glenn Buhr, Linda Catlin Smith, and Peter Hatch.

Amanda is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in flute performance at the University of Toronto, studying with Camille Watts. She holds an M.Mus. (Composition) from the University of Toronto, as well as a Chamber Music Diploma and an Honours B.Mus. (Composition/Improvisation and Performance) from WLU.

Amanda was also interviewed by Flute 360 Podcast, with host Dr. Heidi Kay Begay. Check out the Episode 186 podcast episode here:

Amanda is a member of the Association of Canadian Women Composers. Connect with Amanda on Twitter and check out her SoundCloud


JASMINE TSUI is an interdisciplinary artist, specializing in percussion performance and contemporary improvisation. She is completing her Master’s of Music Performance at the University of Toronto, studying under Aiyun Huang and Beverly Johnston. Their versatile musicianship has allowed her to partake in ensembles across North America, including the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Yarn/Wire Summer Institute. Aside from performing, Jasmine has also received several accolades for academic excellence. During her time at U of T, she has received both the SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship for her research on how interdisciplinary pedagogy has the potential to alter and enhance the learning and performance of percussion-theatre works. Jasmine currently participates in the TaPIR (Technology and Performance Integration Research) Lab, building upon their foundation of interdisciplinary art practices with the integration of live-processed electronics.


DR. ELAINE M. ROSS joined the music theory faculty at Morgan State University in the Fall of 2018 and Towson University in the Fall of 2016. Prior to these appointments, Dr. Ross was on the theory faculty at Ohio University, served as the chair of music theory at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, CA, and as the coordinator of music theory/composition at Central Washington University. Dr. Ross is an extremely active and sought after collaborative pianist. She has performed with such artists as Toby Oft, principal trombone of the Boston Symphony, Harry Watters, premiere jazz trombonist of the army blues (ret.), world renowned clarinetist Fred Ormand, and internationally acclaimed hornist Frank Lloyd, to name a few.

Dr. Ross’ research interests include both the creative aspect of composition, where she maintains an active commissioning/clinic schedule, and theory pedagogy, including instructional approaches, the comparison of teaching results for perfect/absolute pitch vs. non-perfect pitch musicians, and the compilation of several pedagogical workbooks. Dr. Ross has also served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota-Morris, University of Michigan-Flint, and Interlochen Arts Academy.

As a composer, she is published by Southern Music Company, Sisra Press, and Triplo Press and has had numerous works selected for performances at Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI), College Music Society (CMS), and College National Association for Music Education (CNAfME) conferences. Notable compositions include: Canyons for woodwind quintet – winner of the Sinfonia National Woodwind Quintet Composition Competition in May of 2009; Neon Fanfare for trumpet ensemble, selected for performance at both the National Trumpet Conference in 2010 and the International Trumpet Guild Conference in 2011; and Moonstruck for Percussion Ensemble, performed at the 2013 SCI National Conference and the 2012 Northwest Percussion Conference. In addition, Wildfire for Symphonic Winds reached the quarterfinal round in the Coups de Vent International Wind Orchestra competition and was performed in 2008 in Lille, France.

Learn more about Dr. Ross:


JENNIFER McELROY (Rivermist Ensemble) is an active freelance flutist and teacher in the Dallas Metroplex area.  She is a regular guest flutist with the Dallas Wind Symphony; has played second flute with the Fort Worth Symphony and Dallas Symphony Orchestra; and appeared as guest flutist with the Mount Vernon Music Ensemble, Camerata Winds Quintet and Voices of Change.  Jennifer McElroy is second flute with both Lake Lewisville Symphony and East Texas Symphony, and she is starting her eighth season as Principal Flute of the Allen Philharmonic.

Mrs. McElroy received her Bachelor of Music Education from Baylor University.  She continued her studies at Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University where she received both her Master of Music Performance and Artist Certificate.  As a teacher, Mrs. McElroy has served as flute faculty for several school districts around Dallas including Richardson, Irving, Lake Highlands, Highland Park, Plano and McKinney.  She taught as an adjunct flute professor for Brookhaven Community College; and served as instructor at Floot Fire and the Dallas Winds Band Camp. She was also the conductor for the first two years of the Southern Methodist University Young Artist Flute Orchestra.


DR. CANDACE NEAL (Rivermist Ensemble) is a horn player based in Dallas, TX. She is Adjunct Professor of Horn at Texas Woman’s University, and maintains a studio in the Richardson and Dallas public school districts. An active performer and commissioner of new music for horn, she recently founded the chamber group Rivermist Ensemble. Candace has performed and given masterclasses and workshops throughout the US and Canada. She has presented and published research on improvisation and yoga for musicians.

She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Music from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a Bachelor of Music from Boston University. Her principal teachers are Bernhard Scully, Laura Klock, and Eric Ruske. Candace is also a 200-hour E-RYT certified yoga instructor. With ten years of teaching under her belt, she is pursuing a 300-hour certification through Corepower Yoga, as well as a specialization in Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise (PCES).


BILIANA DIMITROVA (Rivermist Ensemble) started playing the piano at the age of five. Her first teacher was her own mother, famous Bulgarian pianist Jenny Petrova. Biliana graduated from the National Music School for Talented and Gifted”Lubomir Pipkov” in her hometown of Sofia, Bulgaria. Subsequently, she received her Bachelor of Piano Performance degree from the “Pancho Vladigerov” National Conservatory in Sofia, where she studied with Professor Milena Mollova. In 1998 Mrs. Dimitrova came to the United States to further her music education. She received her Masters of Piano Performance and Masters in Piano Pedagogy at Baylor University (1998-2002) where she studied with Krassimira Jordan, Baylor’s Artist-in-Residence. Biliana also was a student of John Owings in the Artist Diploma program at TCU.

In addition to being an excellent teacher, Biliana has proven her mastery of performance as demonstrated by the numerous prizes she has won: First Prize at the 1992 “Young Music Talents” Piano Competition in Sofia, Bulgaria; Second Prize at the 1994 “Pantcho Vladigerov” International Piano Competition in Shumen, Bulgaria; and finalist at the Baylor University Concerto Competition. In 1997, Biliana was invited to participate in the National Festival “New Bulgarian Music.” She also has recordings with the Bulgarian National Radio and has performed as a soloist with major orchestras in Bulgaria. Biliana received the 1999-2000 Outstanding Graduate Student special award of the Piano Faculty at Baylor University for excellence in Piano Performance. Biliana was on the faculty of Richland College, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and Texas A&M University, Commerce. She finds herself in high
demand as a free lance accompanist, and adjudicator throughout the US and abroad. Biliana was on the Summer Piano Faculty of the Leysin American School in Switzerland since betwee 2013-2017.

Biliana maintains a thriving piano studio in North Dallas where she resides with her husband John and daughter Julia. She is an active member of DMTA, MTNA, PMTA, TMTA and JPG.

For more information:


ELIZABETH RAUM’S works have been heard throughout North America, Europe, South America, China, Japan, and Russia. She has also written for film and video and has won numerous awards for the her scores in this genre. She has been commissioned by such prestigious organizations as the Winnipeg Ballet, the Calgary Philharmonic, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Nexus Percussion Ensemble, the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

Her opera, The Garden of Alice, has recently been filmed by the Pacific Opera Victoria with Tracy Dahl singing the lead role. Her works have been featured on over 40 commercial CDs including How Bodies Leave Ecstatic Marks which was the winning entry for Best Classical Composition for the 2008 Western Music Award. In 2004, she was awarded an Honourary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Mt. St. Vincent University in Halifax; in November, 2010, she was given the Saskatchewan Order of Merit; and in 2013, the Canadian Composer Award from the Canadian Band Association.

She is included in the New Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the New Grove’s Dictionary of Opera, and the New Grove’s Dictionary of Women Composers as well as numerous other publications.

Recently, Raum completed several flute works as part of an International Online Flute Festival, FLUTE MUSIC BY WOMEN COMPOSERS, organized in part by the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra in collaboration with Heidi Kay Begay of Flute 360 Podcast. As well, she was commissioned by flutist, Jaye Marsh, to write two major works for flute, harp, and bassoon for her newly released CD, Flute in the Wild.

Learn more about Elizabeth Raum:  |  |


LESLEY DUFF A Toronto native, Lesley Duff studied flute and piccolo with Nora Shulman and Camille Watts (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) at the University of Toronto, graduating with a Bachelors of Music in Performance in 1995.

She has performed throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe, including with the Kitchener Waterloo, Oshawa Durham Symphonies, and The Royal Regiment of Canada Band. She is currently principal flute for the Scarborough Philharmonic (since 1996).

Recently, Ms. Duff has switched her musical focus from full time orchestral playing to her other love, teaching. She is currently a full-time music teacher with the Toronto District School Board.


TALISA BLACKMAN: Talisa has performed with some of the top orchestras from North America and Russia. She most recently appeared as soloist with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ronald Royer performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in October 2017, and has performed as soloist with the Georgian Bay Symphony Orchestra and John Barnum, the National Repertory Orchestra and Carl Topilow, and the National Academy Orchestra and Genevieve LeClair. She will appear as soloist playing Ravel Piano Concerto in G with the Symphony on the Bay and Claudio Vena in their 2018/2019 season.

As an orchestral pianist, she performs extensively with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Niagara Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev.

Talisa is also an active chamber musician, with performances across the Canada and the US. She has collaborated with noted vocalists and instrumentalists, most recently with acclaimed Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, as well as celebrated Canadian baritone Russell Braun in a recital for Jeunesses Musicales du Canada. Talisa has also performed with musicians from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as Toronto Symphony Orchestra on their concert series Five Small Concerts. She plays a variety of different music and has performed with the Moody Blues and Evanescence.

Talisa is co-artistic director of the chamber music series 3-in-the-6ix in Toronto’s Bloor West Village and, together with her sister, runs ClassyAF, a series that presents classical music shows in bars across Toronto. For more information please visit:

Visit Talisa Blackman’s website:


Photo courtesy of


KATHERINE HOOVER (December 2, 1937 – September 21, 2018) was born in West Virginia and resided in New York during her active career as composer, conductor, and flutist.

She was the recipient of a National Endowment Composer’s Fellowship and many other awards, including an Academy of Arts and Letters Academy Award in Composition. Four of her pieces won the National Flute Association’s Newly Published Music Competition. Her works are published by Theodore Presser, Carl Fischer, and Papagena Press. Recordings of her music have been issued on Koch, Delos, Parnassus, Gasparo, Summit, Centaur, Cantilena, Bayer, Boston and Leonarda.

Ms. Hoover’s tone poem Eleni: A Greek Tragedy, has been performed by many orchestras, including the Harrisburg and Fort Worth Symphonies. Stitch-te Naku, for Cello and Orchestra, written for Sharon Robinson, was presented by the Long Beach (CA) and Santa Monica Orchestras, the Women’s Philharmonic, and Orchestra Sonoma. Her Clarinet Concerto, written for jazz virtuoso Eddie Daniels, was premiered with the Santa Fe Symphony. The Colorado and Montclaire Quartets, Dorian, Sylvan and Richards Quintets, and the Eroica Trio have featured her work. The New Jersey Chamber Music Society premiered her Quintet (Da Pacem) for piano and strings at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. Julius Baker, Eugenia Zukerman, Jeffrey Khaner, Mimi Stillman, Carol Wincenc, and Metropolitan Opera bass John Cheek have also presented her pieces. The commissioning, rehearsing, and premiere of her Dances and Variations at Kennedy Center are the subject of an Emmy-winning documentary, called New Music, by Deborah Novak. “Classical Pulse,” Jan. 1997: critic Leslie Gerber picked Hoover’s Quintet (Da Pacem) as one of the five best recordings of 1996. In November of 2002 Ms. Hoover’s Requiem: A Service of Remembrance for chorus, soloists, speakers, brass, percussion, and organ (featuring poetry by Walt Whitman) was premiered at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York City.

Ms. Hoover attended the Eastman School of Music and holds a Masters in Music Theory from the Manhattan School, where she taught for many years. Her main flute study was with Joseph Mariano and William Kincaid; she has given concerto performances at Lincoln Center and performed with ballet and opera companies in New York’s major halls, as well as recording solo and chamber repertoire. Ms. Hoover also attended the Conductors Institute and led performances in Wisconsin, West Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania.  [Source:]

Learn more about Katherine Hoover:


ERIC TAPIA is a freshman flute performance major at West Virginia University. He is currently studying under Nina Assimakopoulos. His previous teachers are Dr. Heidi Kay Begay and Monica G. Dominguez. Eric has participated in TMEA All-Region bands for four consecutive years. He’s also participated in the L.D. Bell High School Wind Symphony and Wind Symphony Orchestra for the entirety of his high school career. Eric has enjoyed participating in solo and ensemble competitions for both Texas Woman’s University and Texas Christian University.

Learn more about Eric –


NOVA PON: (b. 1983) is a music composer based in western Canada. She has composed in major cities, a small island community, and an isolated forested acreage, in genres ranging from orchestral, chamber music, wind band, and choral works, to collaborations with film and dance, to educational and amateur music making. She enjoys embracing the unique challenges of each project as inspiration for new approaches to meaningful expression.

Nova grew up playing piano and synthesizers in a self-taught way, and composed her first piece at age 10. At age 11, she began playing the flute, and developed a love for chamber music at a young age. Being also drawn early on to creativity and beauty in fields ranging from art, philosophy, literature, and architecture, Nova strives to maintain a childlike sense of playfulness and discovery, and seek the underlying truths which connect great human endeavors.

Her education includes an undergraduate music composition degree from the University of Calgary and graduate studies at University of British Columbia, and workshops including film scoring studies at New York NYU/ASCAP Foundation Film Scoring Workshop. Her music has been performed on four continents, by performers such as Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Kensington Sinfonia, Ensemble Resonance, Rubbing Stone Ensemble, Ensemble Paramirabo, and Erato Ensemble, and has been published by Frederick Harris, and recorded on the Centrediscs label and available from Naxos Music Library. Nova is also a freelance flutist, and has taught flute and music theory for almost fifteen years. She was made an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre in 2010.

The great composer and omni-musician Paul Hindemith once wrote that “in producing and perceiving music, you must keep your feet on the solid ground of our earth, although with your imagination you may rove the universe.” Whether she is trekking through mountain wilderness, or researching music cognition, improvising with instruments, or improvising in cooking, Nova loves to explore the universe of possibility that nature offers as raw material. Likewise, believing that acoustics and the nature of the human ear offer immense potential for creating sublime and moving music, Nova finds endless fascination with striving to express, with increasing clarity, her sense of life on this earth.

Learn more about Nova Pon:


Photo: Lenora Ede


MARK TAKESHI McGREGOR Described as a “mind-blowing” musician of “huge physical energy” (Times Colonist), flutist Mark Takeshi McGregor is a soloist, chamber musician, and improvisor based on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh People — also known as Vancouver, Canada. As the principal flutist of Aventa Ensemble, Sound of Dragon, and Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, Mark has performed extensively across five continents. Recent engagements include Innovations en Concert (Montreal), Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival (Singapore), Museo Leonora Carrington (San Luis Potosí, Mexico), Powell Street Festival (Vancouver), Melos-Ethos International Festival of Contemporary Music (Bratislava), GroundSwell (Winnipeg), Núcleo Música Nova International Symposium of New Music (Curitiba, Brazil), and the ISCM World New Music Days in Vancouver.

McGregor has performed as concerto soloist with the Victoria Symphony, Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taiwan), Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, and Aventa Ensemble, and has worked with some of the world’s leading composers, including Michael Finnissy, Heiner Goebbels, Philippe Leroux, Nicole Lizée, Natalia Solomonoff, Simon Steen-Andersen, Gilles Tremblay, Barry Truax, and Rolf Wallin. Mark is particularly passionate about expanding the Canadian flute repertoire, and has worked with a wide array of Canadian composers, resulting in new works for solo flute, chamber music, and concertos. In 2021 McGregor was honoured with the Friends of Canadian Music Award, which recognizes exceptional commitment, on a national scale, to Canadian composers and their music.

A prolific recording artist, Mark Takeshi McGregor has appeared on the Centrediscs and Redshift record labels; in 2020 Mark was the winner of the Western Canadian Music Award “Classical Artist/Ensemble of the Year” for his album, Lutalica, which features the solo flute music of Pacific Rim composers. Dr. McGregor teaches at Vancouver Community College, the Vancouver Academy of Music, and the VSO School of Music. In addition to his career as a musician, Mark likes to paint and draw, sip rosé, and tell slightly exaggerated stories, like a true Sagittarius.

Well on his way to becoming one of the world’s leading flutists – Georgia Straight

Mark McGregor’s playing verged on the superhuman. I cannot imagine a finer performance – nor a more convincing one. – Music in Victoria

McGregor’s flute playing is incredibly physical. His entire body leans into the punishing runs and expressive rubatos… At times it sounds like he’s channelling several voices at once… It’s mesmerizing. – Stir Arts & Culture

Learn more about Mark on his website:


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