When flutist Merrie Siegel steps onto the Academy Village stage next Tuesday and begins to play the rollicking Venezuelan “Hibiee-Jibiees” by Marco Granados, the audience is in for an exciting hour of music many may never have heard before. A dynamic artist critically acclaimed for her technical facility and purity of tone, Siegel is a leading interpreter of contemporary Latin-American flute music, most of it written in the last two decades.
The concert, free and open to the public, begins at 11:30 in the Arizona Senior Academy building of the village, an active-adult community six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park off the Old Spanish Trail.
Currently living and teaching in Seattle, where she is Principal Flute with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Siegel began flute studies in her native Philadelphia under Adeline Tomasone, the first of many inspiring teachers. At the age of nineteen, she made her New York debut as the winner of the New York Flute Club’s Young Artist Competition.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Eastman School of Music, Siegel accepted the Principal Flute position with the Filarmonica del Bajio in Guanajuato, Mexico. From there she moved to Monterrey to perform as Principal Flute with the Orquesta Sinfonica de la Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon. She also taught flute at the university as well as at Monterrey’s Escuela Superior de Musica y Danza. As she explained recently, “There weren’t many Mexican wind players at the time because Mexico didn’t really have a tradition of wind music. They needed musicians to play with.”
The experiences deepened her love for Mexico and its culture and defined her musical focus. For her graduate work at Rice University, Siegel’s doctoral dissertation analyzed the “Concerto for Small Orchestra and Flute” and the “Sonata for Flute and Piano” by Samuel Zyman, a prominent Mexican composer now on the Julliard faculty.
In great demand as a teacher, recitalist, and orchestral musician, Siegel keeps up a busy schedule at school campuses and on concert stages north and south of the border. In 2007, the Monterrey Escuela Superior honored her with a Distinguished Teaching Award for her pedagogical contribution to the community.
Her Academy Village concert will include “Echoes of the Ancients,” a flute quartet composed by Sarah Bassingthwaighte. Brian A. Luce, Flute Professor at the University of Arizona, and two of his students, Elyse Davis and Diana Schaible, will join Siegel in the performance. All the music on the program has been recorded on Siegel’s two CDs, “Flute Music of the Americas,” which will be available for sale.
You can catch the flutist again at the Fourth International Symposium of Latin American Music at the University of Arizona. Siegel is a featured artist at the opening concert on January 24, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Stevie Eller Dance Theater.
Submitted by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer