Arts and Entertainment

World music flutist to play Thomas Berry Hall

World music flutist Gary Stroutsos plays music inspired by generations of indigenous peoples. - Photo courtesy of Gary Stroutsos
World music flutist Gary Stroutsos plays music inspired by generations of indigenous peoples.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Gary Stroutsos

He’s an American musician of Greek-Italian descent who plays a Native American flute.

If that isn’t colorful enough, Gary Stroutsos travels around the world to the ancestral places of indigenous peoples to find the music on the wind.

Flute master and cultural storyteller, Stroutsos performs world flute music drawn from traditional cultures.

Evoking a spirit of place and the voices of the land, his work includes internationally acclaimed recordings at sacred sites around the world and even a performance in the Clinton White House.

Having played for the soundtrack to Ken Burns’ PBS documentary “Lewis and Clark: Journey of the Corps of Discovery,” Stroutsos was invited with the Burns team to play for President Bill Clinton.

Songs and stories from his White House experience will be part of his presentation, East Meets West World Flute Concert, when he comes to the Whidbey Institute at Chinook from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 1.

Musicians are invited to his Winds of Honor Flute Workshop from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Enhancements and techniques for the Native American flute will be the focus of the workshop for students of all levels, with both group and individual instruction.

Originally trained as a jazz flutist, Stroutsos’ work evolved and has developed to combine his American jazz foundation with other styles as diverse as Native American, Chinese and Cuban music.

His audiences have the special opportunity to hear ancient Chinese bamboo flutes which are seldom heard outside the walls of China.

It is also rare to hear such melodies as those played by Native Americans for centuries on the American Indian courting flute.

Stroutsos said the flute gives voice to the beauty of the land; it is the sound of the wind.

“If you listen closely, you can hear the land and the cry of the people inside this haunting and plaintive music,” Stroutsos said.

With more than 20 international releases of flute recordings, Stroutsos has made a distinct contribution to the preservation of American Indian music and culture, and plays with some of the finest American Indian artists working today.

His collaborations extend to his work with Navajo flute maker Paul Thompson, work which carries on the enduring legacy of the American Indian flute and its recent revitalization into contemporary society.

“My passion is to share with listeners the cultural legacies which my teachers have shared with me, particularly my journey with my friend and mentor, Paul Thompson,” Stroutsos said.

“We brought to life traditional love songs learned from American Indians, and recorded these flute songs live inside Canyon de Chelly, the spiritual ancestral land of the Navajo.”

The history of generations of indigenous people is the real mystery of the flute, which is this artist’s inspiration behind why he continues to visit the world’s ancestral lands.

“Bringing music to life for new listeners is part of my vision of my own work, because music touches the soul, making it our true universal means of communication,” he said.

The flute workshop is limited to 30 participants. The fee is $60 for adults and $30 for those 21 and younger and with special needs. The workshop fee includes the afternoon concert and snacks.

Concert tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for those 21 and younger with special needs.

Call the Whidbey Institute at 341-1884 or visit info@whidbeyinstitute.org.

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