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Background to the Forest Flute Choir

The Forest Flute Choir (FFC) was set up nearly a decade ago by local teacher and flautist, Fiona Crawley who identified a need for local flute players to have a creative outlet. The Forest of Dean has always been renowned for its distinguished musical heritage, in particular for its high standard of singing and silver band playing, but there were and still are plenty of other musicians out there who are keen to find a group to play with.

It was always a constitutional rule that FFC would try its very hardest to be totally non-elitist and encourage everyone to come along, regardless of age, experience or ability. There are no auditions to join and people drop in and out of the group according to their own priorities. We have a constant core of about 30 players and we play about 3 concerts per year, raising monies for local charities or deserving causes. We rehearse bi-monthly on Sunday afternoons during term times. Our repertoire is highly eclectic – anything goes here – film scores, TV tunes, standard classical repertoire, Jazz and much, much more. We try hard to please everyone – it’s not always possible, but we do our best!

Six years ago we were given a most generous donation from Parkend Carnival Committee and were able to purchase an alto flute and a piccolo for members to play. In 2012 The New Grove Trust, based in  Monmouthshire awarded us a grant of £1500 which enabled the group to purchase a bass flute. It is now the flute choir’s dream to raise further monies with which to purchase an even larger flute, a contrabass….we’re about a third of the way there..

In past years the committee has awarded a small bursary to a young flautist to assist them in their musical studies – previous winners have been Debbie Sandells, Charlotte Wood, Matthew Mann, Adele Franghiadi and Beth Handley. Currently this project is ‘on hold’ whilst we raise funds for the new flute but the committee will re-instate the bursary award as soon as it is able.

We have 2 thriving choirs – the junior choir which caters for beginners up to about grade 4 standard and the senior choir, catering for those at a higher level. Members choose which choir best suits their individual needs. Occasionally we form a smaller chamber group for functions.

Profile of Fiona Crawley, Musical Director

Fiona started playing the flute when she was 10 and went on to study music, with Italian, at Bristol University where she graduated with a BA(Hons) in 1987.  She is a member of The British Flute Society.

Fiona is a well established, passionate, flute teacher who teaches in local schools, where she has worked as a tutor for Gloucestershire Music, as well as having private pupils.

She is a regular orchestral and chamber music player throughout the county, and recently played both WA Mozart’s Flute Concerto in D with the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra, and JS Bach’s Suite in b minor for Flute and Strings with the Penyard Orchestra in Ross.

As well as setting up the Forest Flute Choir, which now has 38 members,  Fiona is also currently the Chairperson of the newly created Yvonne Walkerdine Music Bursary which is an annual financial award set up as a tribute to the late Yvonne Walkerdine.

Fiona is currently preparing for an MA and is hoping to take grade 8 treble recorder (when she can remember all the fingerings).