November 6th, 2008 at Carnegie HallRobert Dick presents his ode to the flute in “Robert Dick’s: 50 Years of Flute.” Defying standards throughout his career, Dick has been praised for his groundbreaking innovation and unprecedented flute flair “bridging the gap from Mozart to Metallica.” Dick enters the Weill Recital Hall to vigorous applause Ñ a legendary flautist in a prestigious hall, a notorious rock star to center stage.

Without a word, Dick whips out his flute and begins “Flames Must Not Encircle Sides.” A low trill pervades into the audience on an enharmonic of a note, emitting a cool natural sound. Dick races his fingers over keys, sending out long-tone trills in varying registers with occasional ornament grace-notes that sound eerie and awesome. Blowing out air with no detectable breath for minutes, the unnecessary concern of the audience grows. On top of mastering the flute, Dick is an expert on circular breathing, an impossible technique, which upon first learning involves hours of puffed cheeks and unintentional nose-fart sounds.

Dick finally takes a breath and returns with an unbelievable sound. There on the stage, Dick plays two separate pitches on the flute, simultaneously. It is necessary to understand the technicalities of the flute as an instrument; mainly that it is not constructed to make such simultaneous sound substance. Yet, through his amazing skill Dick can make as many as three sounds at the same time Ñ one undertone, one manipulated extra note, and his own buzzing pitch from his lips. Dick drags the pitch up and down in strange scales and octaves through varying fifths, and finally terminates the piece with one long sustained note. Dick struts off the stage over a loud applause and one Ôwoo,’ like the badass flute-rocker he is, a contradiction in itself.

The next piece, “Piece in Gamelan Style” consists of one held Gregorian chant-like note with scales of fast notes on top of the sustained sound, not unlike the back-in-the-day Church modes of heterophonic texture. The song is made up of switching between notes and simultaneous notes in rhythmic, primitive patterns that are earthy and beautiful with Indonesian-inspired vibes. The audience applauds and Dick walks off.

After a moment, Dick returns to the stage, a new man, with a new flute, with new parts that he newly invented. Dick confesses that his jealousy of the guitar’s wammy bar inspired him to design a wammy bar type for the flute. He then pulls out the new flute and begins “Sliding Life Blues.” A wammy lip plate glides up and down the headjoint, producing sound in a trombone-like manner with such extensive sliding ability. The original contraption is called the glissando headjoint.

Dick plays the alto flute in “Eye in the Sky,” a scary sounding piece full of overblows and airy sounds spurring ghostly wind vibes. He continues to play even the alto flute, which is much larger than a regular flute, with such simultaneous pitches Ñ an impressive feat for any wind musician.

Further demonstrating his rock star persona, next Dick performs “Air is the Heaviest Metal,” a work inspired by 60s and 70s rock, especially that of heavy metal rock band, Metallica. The music is stretched out over four music stands Ñ the manuscripts most likely saturated with grace notes, flutter tongue signals, and rhythms requiring difficult double tongue techniques. Dick plays strong, hard notes that puncture the air with the intensity necessary for a hardcore rock show, with rock rhythms and melodies. He is the guitar, bass, and drums all at once.

The concert finishes with “Life Concert” that includes Dick’s pianist/partner, Ursel Schlicht. In this modern styled work, the flute battles the piano with dissonant notes that pierce the hall with precision. However, the piece ultimately takes away from the overall flute feel of the night with its unnecessary piano part against Dick’s powerful flute solo.

Even those who normally would not enjoy such a technical concert would have to commend Dick for his creativity and genius as a flautist. The concert is a remarkable performance thanks to fifty years of some serious practicing by Robert Dick, the flute rock star.