Friends of Flutes Foundation continues its mission with endowed gift to SMTD
October 13, 2020

The School of Music, Theatre & Dance has received a gift from the Friends of Flutes Foundation (FFF) of $50,000 and four professional-quality instruments to benefit students in the School’s flute studio. The gift will establish the Friends of Flutes Endowed Flute Fund, the next phase of FFF’s mission to support aspiring musicians.

Founded in 2010 by U-M alumna Judith Reinhardt Thoyer, BA (LSA) ’61, FFF has helped college students and post-graduates pursue flute performance by providing more than 400 grants to musicians at conservatories and universities across the country. Grants have supported various learning and professional development opportunities such as commissioning new works for flute, covering fees and travel expenses for festivals and competitions, taking care of instrument repairs, and more. The new endowed fund will carry on this tradition at U-M, providing annual support to SMTD flute students for similar educational and programmatic needs.

“FFF gave grants to students in 50 U.S. universities and conservatories during its 10 years of operation, but it was time to wind it up,” said Thoyer. “How do we continue its mission and preserve its name? The School of Music, Theatre & Dance was the perfect place to do that. By creating the Friends of Flutes Endowed Flute Fund, our mission will continue for flute majors at University of Michigan.”

Thoyer is an amateur flutist herself who plays C flute, alto, and bass flute in several ensembles. After retiring as a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, Thoyer turned her passion for flute into FFF with the support of her husband, and fellow U-M alumnus, Michael E. Thoyer, BBA ‘60. The foundation, based in New York City, is also supported by a board of directors including law professionals, arts advocates, academics, and musicians.

After ten years of work, FFF felt it was time to find an educational partner to carry on its mission, and selected U-M because of the caliber of its students and the dedication of faculty members like Prof. Amy Porter who leads SMTD’s flute studio and will allocate funds from the gift each year.

“It is my intent to keep the giving of this generous gift in the spirit of the Friends of Flutes Foundation,” said Porter. “We will use these funds for the benefit of flute students seeking opportunities in flute performance and music education. It is our goal to provide a breath of fresh air to a student who has aspirations of a job in the music industry but lacks the financial momentum.”

In the past, Porter has helped many of her flute students complete grant applications to FFF, and she saw firsthand how receiving these awards significantly impacted them. “We always knew they would come through for us as a foundation,” Porter said. “FFF afforded my students experiences that shaped their lives, from assisting in international study and paying registration fees, to affording that piccolo or flute purchase.”

Porter also shares an amazing connection with FFF board member Mary Barto, a former member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. At the age of 14, Porter performed at the Robinwood Flute Camp in Delaware. There Porter met Barto who heard her play and encouraged her to continue pursuing flute performance. “She was so friendly to me,” said Porter. “It’s amazing that Mary has come back into my life to help me perpetuate the New York flute playing love and legacy.”

Where can you meet some of our Blue Flutes alumni?

  • Melissa Mashner, (MM 2016) Faculty, Adrian College, Michigan

  • Dr. Brice Smith, (MM 2016) Faculty, Flute Academy, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music

  • Dr. Maria Castillo, (BM 2004, Specialist 2018, DMA 2020) Assistant Professor, University of TN, Knoxville

  • Dr. Brian Dunbar, (MM 2012) Assistant Professor of Flute, SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music

  • Dr. Seth Morris, (DMA 2012) Principal Flute, Metropolitan Opera, NY, NY

  • Alaina Bercilla (MM 2007) Principal Flute, Ann Arbor Symphony, MI

  • Dr. Sarah Frisof (DMA 2009) Assistant Professor of Flute, University of Maryland, College Park

  • Kelly Zimba (BM 2013) Principal Flute, Toronto Symphony Orchestra

  • Daniel Velasco, (Specialist 2013) Assistant Professor of Flute, University of Kansas

  • Dr. Erika Boysen, (DMA 2015) Assistant Professor of Flute, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

  • Rachel Blumenthal (BM 2011) Principal Flute, Sarasota Opera Co.; 2nd Flute/Piccolo Santa Fe Opera

  • Jacqueline Arrington (BM 2008) Associate Professor of Flute, University of Oregon

  • Dr. Rachel Woolf (BM 2010) Lecturer of Flute, University of Texas at San Antonio

  • Akilah Bryant (MM 2012) Instructor of Flute, University of Montevallo, AL

  • Elise Henry (BM 2009) 2nd Flute, Los Angeles Philharmonic

  • Marie (Mimi) Tachouet (BM 2006) Principal Flute, Chicago Lyric Opera

  • Ben Smolen (Specialist 2011) Principal Flute, Pacific Symphony , CA

  • Kelly Sulick (BM 2004) Asst. Professor of Flute University of VA and Principal Flute Charlottesville Symphony

  • Mira Magrill (MM 2010) Principal Flute, Miss Saigon National Tour

  • Erin Kendall Murphy (BM 2002) Assistant Professor of Flute, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater

  • Nicole Esposito (MM 2003), Professor of Flute, University of Iowa

  • Barbi Risken (BM 2001) Baroque Flutist and Fife Instrumentalist in The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps



  • Where can you hear some of our current Blue Flutes?
    Our flute students perform in Chicago Civic, Debut Orchestra and New World Symphony. They participate in Intensives by leading chamber music organizations. They have attended the festivals of Yellow Barn, Tanglewood, Brevard, Music Academy of the West, Aspen, Bang On A Can, Sarasota, Orford, Domaine Forget, and Anatomy of Sound among others.

    Visit the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance
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    Interested in a Flute Performance Degree?

    Before you decide, see if you can play:

    Scales 3 octaves up to D – chromatics, thirds in every key, whole tone scales

    Taffanel-Gaubert #1,4, 5, 6, 12 memorized

    Have you looked at the following?

    Bach 24 Studies, Cello Suites (Ed. Porter)

    Andersen etudes, Berbiguier etudes, Rose etudes (Ed. Porter)

    Telemann Fantasias, Study Guide and CD (Ed. Porter)

    Handel Sonatas

    Mozart Concerti

    Major French conservatoire pieces (Faure, Enesco, Ganne, Gaubert (Ed. Porter), Taffanel)

    Poulenc, Hindemith Sonatas – learn some of those if you haven’t already.

    Under-represented composers - learn and memorize and perform music by your choice of under-represented composers you feel compelled to feature in your life.

    Once you get here, we start with etudes by Rose, Berbiguier, Altes, Bitsch, then Karg-Elert Caprices and beyond.

    Please look at the UM list of excerpts and start learning them and memorizing them in that order. Don’t be overwhelmed. Think of it as a journey and only go as far as you feel comfortable.

    Look at all these orchestral excerpts you can learn! audition excerpts
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