The Kennedy Center

Concerto for Alto Flute and Orchestra

About the Work

Fred Jonny Berg Composer: Fred Jonny Berg
© Richard Freed

Flute Mystery, a one-movement fantasy—or, more aptly, as the composer specifies, a symphonic poem—for alto flute and string orchestra, was composed in the spring of 2005 and is receiving its world premiere performances in the present concerts, with the composer present.
In addition to the solo instrument, the score calls for a harp and full orchestral strings. Duration, 15 minutes.
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Fred Jonny Berg has lived since the age of 3 in a town in the valley of Saltdal, above the Arctic Circle. He modestly describes himself as self-taught, adding,

However, I have worked closely with several professional musicians and thereby acquired professional knowledge about the different instruments. I play a few instruments myself, and I have had one piano teacher whom I would like to mention: Giorgio Semprini.

Mr. Berg's compositions in various forms now number about two hundred, distributed among 67 opus numbers, and have been performed by orchestras in his own country and Finland as well as smaller groups in a broader range of venues. Many of his works overtly reflect his impressions of Nature as experienced in his own environment; some are personal documents (About My Grandfather, for small orchestra; Randi, for large orchestra; Where Am I? for viola and strings), several are "electroacoustic" works for synthesizer (I Stepped on a UFO; Pictures before an Exhibition; Life Giggling), and the Piano Concertos Nos. 2 (Urge) and 3 (Monster) are "dedicated to Nature." Several of his works have been recorded and/or used in films. (Mr. Berg himself has directed and produced a number of films and recordings, and is also active as a poet.) At present he is working on an opera and several works in the realm of chamber music.
The present work is dedicated to Sir James Galway, but was not written under a commission. Mr. Berg brought it to Sir James's attention as soon as he had completed the score, and the distinguished flutist not only accepted the dedication but agreed to give the work its premiere.
The flute, in fact, is an instrument that has held a particular attraction for the composer and figures prominently among his works, as he mentions in the note he has kindly supplied for these performances.
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I have always been fascinated by the flute, and I was happy to expand its repertoire by writing a piece for the alto flute. I have also made this work available for the C flute by transcribing the solo part (Op. 66b, which has not been scheduled for performance so far).
Two very important factors that have always fascinated me deeply are Nature and Space; their influence is felt in many of my compositions. The title Flute Mystery represents a subjective reference to these abstract elements that surround us all the time. Hence Flute Mystery is based on personal feelings and moods encompassing these factors (among others). The alto flute part has both tranquil passages and others of greater intensity, combining here and there with the sympathetic input of harp and strings. It is a symphonic poem, written in a single movement, but with various tempi and dynamic markings.
Fred Jonny Berg