Flute Concerto

for solo flute, orchestra

premiered 1987

Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston,
Ronald Feldman, conductor
Sanders Theater, Cambridge Massachusetts



“Suellen Hershman was the soloist in the premiere of the Flute Concerto of Thomas Flaherty, an intimate, logically crafted piece that also moves through some fetching night music, through a a gangling insect dance, to a convincingly splashy conclusion. The honesty and self-possession, in both the work and its performance, were highly attractive.” [Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston]
– Richard Buell, The Boston Globe
As I first thought about composing a piece for flute and orchestra, the texture that appealed to me the least was that of lovely flute melodies with docile orchestral accompaniment. Dialogue opens with the orchestra rudely if not viciously barking while the flute begins a lyrical melody in its most intimate range. This initial opposition is one of the primary motivating forces in the movement, as the flute’s lyricism and its melody interact with, and eventually win over the recalcitrant orchestra. The music is by turns darkly surging and playfully singing, and closes with references to the original flute melody.

Dance is a short movement that plays with rhythm, tempo, and metric interactions. Its general tone and many of its specific harmonies and motives reflect lighter moments in the first movement.

Flute Concerto was written in 1987 for Suellen Hershman and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, who performed the premiere that year.

I. Dialogue

score excerpt

audio excerpt

II. Dance

audio excerpt