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James J. Pellerite (b. 30 September 1926, Clearfield, Pennsylvania, USA) is one of the world's preeminent flutists.  His Sicilian grandparents inculcated in Jim a strong work ethic, and as a result of diligent application and cultivation of his prodigious musical talent,  Jim was successfully admitted to Juilliard as a pupil of Frederick Wilkins.  Later he studied privately with William Kincaid, whom he succeeded as solo flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  From 1961 to 1987, Jim served as Professor of Flute at the Indiana University School of Music, where he helped to shape the professional lives of many students who now hold prominent symphonic and academic posts.  In the course of his career, Jim further distinguished himself as principal flutist with the symphony orchestras of Detroit and Indianapolis, and has performed with many other leading ensembles, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra under the batons of such legendary conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Pablo Casals, Neville Mariner, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski, and Igor Stravinsky.  Jim is one of the original Founders of the National Flute Association.

Widely recognized and admired as a classical flutist and teacher for his performances and master classes in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, since 1995 Jim has pursued a second career as a Native American flute virtuoso.  His company, Zalo/JP-Publications, produces an important catalog of contemporary flute music that includes a wide selection of orchestral, chamber, and solo works by living composers who share his enthusiasm for the Northern Plains instrument.  Jim's programs and lectures are noted for the high quality and diversity of the music presented, and reflect his commitment to expand the capabilities, tonal spectrum, and intonation of the Native American flute, thus elevating it to the status of a significant new presence in the contemporary music landscape.   

Among his most recent artistic collaborations is the "Westron Wynde" Project, in which Delian Society composers from three different nations took part in the creation of a five-movement symphonic cycle for Native American flute and orchestra—the first work of its kind.  Nancy Bloomer Deussen's Night Forest, with which the cycle begins, will be recorded by Jim in July 2006 with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra.  Jim has already released a number of recordings featuring the Native American Flute, including a CD on which he performed Delian Society composer Michael Mauldin's Dreams of the Child of Light with the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Jim believes that tonal composition is most conducive to his goals as a pioneering concert performer of the Native American flute: 

As an instrumentalist, I have believed that musical strengths are born of direct attachment to tradition.  This has provided a platform from which I have enjoyed performances that are memorable for their promised powerful emotions and played with musical comfort.  Therefore, the use of diatonic/chromatic harmony in creating new repertoire for the Native American flute is the pathway I have selected to take for this unique instrument.  All of our commissioned composers have created compositions that have graced this flute with another dimension of color, and with optimum musical expression.  I prefer to identify its music as modern romanticism.

The development of a modern technique for the performance of contemporary music on the Indian flute is solely dependent on tonality.  It serves to add another dimension to its naturally beautiful and haunting pentatonic flavors.  As well, tonal music stretches the musical and technical boundaries of the Native American flute without the application of some modern woodwind techniques found in many contemporary scores of atonal or avant-garde compositions from the 1960s through the 1970s.

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Last updated January 24, 2008
WebMaster: Sebastian Proteus,
Copyright 2006 by James J. Pellerite & Joseph Dillon Ford