NISSWA -- The Grassroots Concerts fall 2000 season ends at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, with Peter Phippen, ethnic flutist.
The series based in the Nisswa Community Center will step away from its tradition of stringed instruments to enter the sound images created through expressive wind instruments.
Phippen is the renowned master of cultural folklore conveyed through flutes, some of which are exotic and all of which are custom-made, carved of natural materials such as bamboo, aspen, walnut and cedar.
The former rock musician uses his extensive collection of flutes and folklore to draw music from the Middle Ages, South America and Native Americans. His music is shaped by the vast history and perspectives of people around the world.
"I always liked music that had a spacy sound," said the Eau Claire, Wis., artist. "When I found the bamboo flute (paying a quarter for it at a store in 1987), all that was in that one instrument. Just playing alone acoustically with the instrument, I could achieve that spacier, ambient sound."
From coffeehouses to a recording deal with Canyon Records of Phoenix, Phippen grew as the width and breadth of his expressive skill expanded.
He said that unlike most ethnic flute players on the market today who play Native American flutes, he has developed a fondness for flutes from Japan, China, Bolivia, Norway and other parts of the world. He has also mastered a unique and spontaneous form.
Improvisational compositions are a trademark of Phippen artistry. His jazz-like innovations are dictated by mood and simplicity more than overplaying.
Those who have heard Phippen in two public concerts at Central Lakes College in Brainerd marvel at the use of seemingly infinite lungs.
"He just carries out a note or series of notes for such a long time, you find yourself breathless while he sustains the sound," said Steve Waller, CLC public information specialist, who has observed both appearances.
Haunting, soothing, contemplative, and meditative are words frequently used to describe the mood music that permeates a Phippen performance. Here is how the artist himself describes it, borrowing from the "Tao Te Ching" Chinese Taoist philosophical classic:
"The space between heaven and earth is like a flute -- empty -- yet when moved more and more, emerges from it and many words exhaust themselves on it."
The Nisswa Community Center opens at 6:30 p.m. for all Grassroots Concerts. Admission at the door is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 11 and under. Salvation Army Food Shelf donations are encouraged and accepted at the door. For information, call 963-2976 or 746-3930.
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