The Southern Virginia University Flute Choir performed its “Finale Concert” this semester.
Begun in 2005 by Professor Launa Whitehead, the flute choir has been a fixture at Southern Virginia for ten years. It’s always remained a quaint ensemble of piccolo, alto, bass and C flutes, never including more than ten members. Whitehead said that she hoped the presence of a flute choir provided Southern Virginia with “the opportunity to appreciate small ensembles.”
“I know that large ensembles are very important to a university, and there’s excellence in there, but I think in some ways that [the flute choir has] shined a bit of a light on excellence in small ensembles,” she said.
And though the choir certainly has left its mark on the university, it has particularly done so on the students involved. Christina Seegmiller, Southern Virginia’s events and operations coordinator, first became involved in the flute choir in 2007 and has been playing the flute since the sixth grade.
Whitehead said that as she prepared for the final concert, she “picked pieces that would show [the ensemble] at [its] best.” She chose a number of diverse pieces, including Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides Overture” and Burnette’s “Three Crotchety Cats,” which was narrated by Dr. Clayne Robison. Seegmiller listed “Hebrides” as her favorite piece.
“I’ve done it before with Launa [Whitehead],” Seegmiller said. “I was actually the one who pushed her to do it this year. I love the musicality of that piece, the pianos the fortes, the strength that it has just with flutes. It shows [everything] that flutes can do.”
Whitehead discussed her desire to not only show off the choir at its best, but also to please the audience. At her husband’s advice, she said she tries “to play at least one number that everyone will know and can go out whistling.”
With decades of experience, Whitehead has taught at Dixie State University in St. George and has performed with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra as part of the Temple Square Concert Series and with the Rockbridge Symphony, among others. Despite her extensive experience, she said that working at Southern Virginia has been exceptional.
“It’s the caliber of students, the caliber of the kind of people they are,” Whitehead said. “It’s the wanting, the desire for excellence, and wanting to do their best that really has been a main factor [of my enjoyment here].”
And, according to Seegmiller, Whitehead has proven herself to be a professor of high caliber.
“She’s amazing, she’s wonderful – she’s a great friend to all the girls,” said Seegmiller. “She’s always willing to help you through whatever you’re going through. She always has advice on guys, and she’s always curious about what’s going on in your lives. She’s not just a teacher. She’s a friend.”
Ultimately, it seems that the flute choir’s legacy is not only one of outstanding musicianship and dedication but one of comradery and friendship. Small ensembles, intimate friendships, great experiences. It’s the genius of small.
(Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Eva Sorensen ’18.)