Wistrom takes part in First Friday series

LeAnne Wistrom, a flute player and instructor at Edinboro, took part in the Edinboro First Friday Concert Series on Oct. 3.
Flute player entertains audience

By Kat Stafford
Contributing Writer/The Spectator

As LeAnne Wistrom entered the recital hall with her flute hitting the stage as part of the First Friday Concert Series at Edinboro University on Oct. 3, she entered to the sound of applause. And it certainly wouldn’t be the last time she was greeted that way.

“Perhaps an apocryphal story,” said Wistrom early on in the show, setting a storytelling theme. “But why would a concert be called a recital? And it seems to have begun during the time of a great soloist, Franz Liszt, who played the piano. He’s just a giant of a player in the nineteenth century. His concerts started being called recitals. He said he didn’t know why because he certainly didn’t speak at them. But it seemed to stick.”

The first piece she performed would be “Sarabandefollowed by Boureé.” Both were composed by Johann Sebastian Bach during the eighteenth century.

“Sarabande” is a Spanish slow dance in triple meter. “Boureé” is a French dance. It has a jumping feel to it.

“People had to leap their steps,” said Wistrom. When she finished, the audience clapped in approval.

The next piece she played was “Syrinxwritten by Claude Debussy. Wistrom stated that Syrinx was the name of a nymph. Pan, a mythical creature who was part man and part goat, had tried to capture Syrinx.  She ran from Pan. When she reached the river, she turned herself into a reed. Pan made it to the river and noticed a reed that had never been there before. So he cut the reed and turned it into a pan pipe. 

“The last few notes sound like his tears are falling into the water,” Wistrom said.

The last piece she played was Danse de la Chèvreby Arthur Honegger. The name means “Dance of the Goat.” 

“This piece is his imagination,” said Wistrom. “He imagined a little goat boy waking up and dancing. Then he gets tired, and then he gets back up and dances some more. Then he goes to sleep.”

The audience could hear where it sounds like the little goat is getting up and dancing from the way the music is played. It sounded happy, light and jumpy. When the goat was getting tired, the music slowed down. The notes from the beginning were played at the end, signifying that the goat was going to sleep.

Wistrom, despite the positive reception, did not become an expert flute player overnight.

She knew at the age of five that she wanted to play in an orchestra from a program she saw on television. When she was nine, she had the chance to actually play an instrument in her school’s program. She just had to pick the one.

“I kept studying all of the instruments that I saw on television and decided which one I wanted to play,” she said. “And I narrowed it down to violin or flute. And then it was the flute that won out. I liked the sound of it.”

Once she had her instrument, her mother told her she had to take lessons and practice 30 minutes a day.

“I’m so glad that I did. It really made a difference. That’s how you get better…The thing is, a lot of kids don’t have that discipline where they have to practice. No one’s telling them they have to practice every day.”

She practiced and pushed through the boring beginner’s learning. She played in the youth orchestra throughout high school. 

When she graduated, she went to Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., where she majored in performance. She also practiced for auditions.

She received her master’s degree, which allowed her to teach college.

“Almost everybody teaches their instrument,” Wistrom said. “I started out in maybe ninth grade helping a little girl who was just starting flute. In high school, I had a few private students, and in Indiana I had some private students. And then, I was a teacher’s assistant when I was a grad student, so I taught there. Everybody expects that they’re going to teach. So, it was a question of finding a job first.”

She started teaching college at the University of Akron, where she had a teaching position for one year. After that, she started teaching at Edinboro University.

She won the audition for the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra. She also performs with the Lake Erie Ballet Orchestra.

When it comes to teaching her students, she believes in wanting to, “make your students independent. You want to give them enough equipment so that they can teach themselves.”

“The more ability they gain, the easier it’ll be to build on.”

Kat Stafford is a contributing writer for The Spectator.