A Stivers grad is gearing up to play what has been dubbed “the most expensive flute in the world.”
Dayton native Brandon Patrick George, a New York based flutist, hopes to use new and old instruments on an album that “honors American craftsmanship and legacy.”
“I wanted to challenge myself,” George, who still has family members in friends in the Dayton area, told us. “I thought it would be so much more fascinating to get different sounds out of different instruments.”
He is currently raising funds for his effort and recently wrapped up an Indiegogo campaign.
Donations are being accepted under the “Support” tab on George’s website, brandonpatrickgeorge.com.
Donors can receive CDs, performance tickets and other gifts based at different contribution levels.
The yet-to-be named album will explore the concepts of forward and backwards thinking.
“I am exploring composers that were looking forward with their thinking or they are looking back,” George said.
THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE FLUTE
One of the key instruments George will use on his musical journey is the platinum flute Verne Powell was commissioned to create for the 1939 World's Fair.
Famed American flutist William Kincaid purchased the flute, which was under guard at the fair, according to flutebuilder.com.
He left it to Elaine Shaffer, one of his favorite students, when he died.
Following Shaffer’s death at 47, her husband auctioned it off at Christie’s in New York, where artist Andy Warhol was in attendance.
A New York antique collector at that 1986 auction won the flute for $170,000, the equivalent of nearly $400,000 in today’s money, according to most inflation calculators.
The flute has a Dayton connection.
THE DAYTON CONNECTION
George said Dayton native Phil Unger, the owner of the Flute Center of New York, supports the album project and is helping him secure use of the flute for the album from a private owner.
Phil Unger and George met through Phil’s father, the late Gilbert Unger.
>> MORE: Gilbert Unger died in 2014
While at Stivers, George played a duet with the elder Unger, a clarinet player, at a dinner party.
“I made this connection with him,” George said.
George says the sound that comes out of platinum flutes is unique.
“It won’t respond the same way as a silver flute,” he said. “You have to figure it out.
Once you do, there are a lot of wonderful sounds you get out of it.”
The other instruments George intends to use includes a modern Verne Powell flute made from grenadilla wood.
“ I wanted an album that I could get as many sounds that I could,” he said.
George, a 2004 Stivers School for the Arts graduate who first began playing the flute as a fifth-grader at Residence Park Elementary School, has an impressive resume built thinking out of the box.
The Oberlin College Conservatory of Music grad has performed recitals and chamber music concerts at a list of concert halls that includes Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center, Cité de la Musique and Bargemusic.
George has performed in the ensembles of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the International Contemporary Ensemble in Chicago.
He gave props to his teacher at Stivers, his friends and a supportive mother.
I had these dreams, but I had people that supported me,” he said. “It is those people, it is those voices that keep you going when it is hard. Of course it will be those that don’t support you, but I don’t think they matter that much.”
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