With equally deep roots in classical music old and new and in free improvisation and new jazz, Robert Dick has established himself as an artist who has not only mastered, but redefined the flute. Known worldwide for creating revolutionary visions of the flute’s musical role, listening to Robert Dick play solo has been likened to the experience of hearing a full orchestra. His performances typically include flute (with his invention, the Glissando Headjoint®) piccolo, alto flute, and bass flutes in C and F. On special occasions, he’ll bring out the giant, stand-up contrabass flute.
Dick lives in New York City and is on the faculty of New York University. He holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.M. in composition from the Yale School of Music.
As a composer in the classical world, Robert Dick is one of only two Americans ever to be awarded both Composers Fellowships (twice) and a Solo Recitalist Grant by the N.E.A. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and commissions from the Jerome Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Trust, the city of Zurich, the Philharmonie in Cologne and many more. At the 1999 National Flute Association Convention in Atlanta, Dick was soloist in his Concerto for Flute/Bass Flute Strings and Percussion. Close to two thousand flutists gave his performance and his music a standing ovation. At the premiere of his concerto at Town Hall in New York City, the New York Times spoke of the work as “riveting in its timbral variety and brilliant in Mr. Dick’s playing.”
Current compositional projects, all commissioned, include works for the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth, the New Century saxophone Quartet and the flutists Elizabeth McNutt (a work for amplified flute) and Jun Kubo (a flute duo).
As one of the flute world’s most respected masterclass teachers, Robert Dick has been in residence in literally hundreds of universities, colleges and conservatories throughout the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. In 2004-05, his performances and teaching abroad will take him to Kosovo, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy and Mexico. In the US this year, he’ll be giving frequent masterclasses around the country and will be University Artist in Residence for the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth and guest composer in residence at the James Madison University Contemporary Music Festival.
Robert Dick also does extended residencies at universities and music schools. He feels that the opportunity for in-depth instruction and follow up that a five or ten day class provides is invaluable for students. At Chicago’s DePaul University, he used a five-day residency to create a new work with the flute class. Teaching both basic improvisation and introducing extended flute techniques, he led the class in a concert presentation of his Transdimensional Lending Library. Student comments included “You have opened a whole new world of music for me”, “This week will help us grow in 21st century music” and “I can’t thank you enough for doing what you’re doing with the flute and sharing it with us and the world”. Transdimensional Lending Library can be tailored to the needs and abilities of flute classes everywhere.
A look at Dick’s discography reveals a musician of major creative scope, with over twenty CDs of original solo and chamber works and collaborations with fellow creative musicians in such groups as the Ambient/Overdrive band King Chubby. Other CDs feature music by Telemann ( the Fantasies for flute alone) and Jimi Hendrix. Recent releases include King Chubby’s IS and Columns of Air, duos with multi-instrumentalist and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier.
As an improvisor, Dick has performed and recorded with New Winds, Tambastics, Oscura Luminosa, the Soldier String Quartet, the A.D.D. Trio, Paul Giger and Satoshi Takeishi, Jaron Lanier, Randy Raine-Reush and Barry Guy, Mari Kimura, Steve Gorn and many more of Europe and America’s finest improvisors. Over three decades of collaboration, musicians he has worked with include Steve Lacy, George Lewis, Georg Gräwe, Evan Parker, Malcolm Goldstein, Shelley Hirsch, Jöelle Leandre and John Zorn.
Robert Dick’s multifaceted musical life includes work on redesigning the flute itself. Brannen Brothers Flutemakers manufactures his invention, the “Glissando Headjoint”, which does for the flute what the “whammy bar” does for the electric guitar. Dick performs on a special flute that Brannen built for him, a radically expanded version of the their Kingma-System model. This flute has a myriad of new musical possibilities and many of Dick’s recent compositions embrace these freedoms. Dick also has a relationship with Emerson Musical Instruments, which produces the Robert Dick Model bass flute. The goal of this bass flute, which Dick plays in his concerts alongside of the unique Brannen, is to be a powerful, rich-toned yet modestly priced instrument.
Dick has authored and published, on his Multiple Breath Music imprint, a number of seminal works for contemporary flute: The Other Flute: A Performance Manual of Contemporary Techniques; Tone Development Through Extended Techniques; Circular Breathing for the Flutist; and Flying Lessons: Six Contemporary Concert Etudes (Volumes I and II). Translations are published in German (Zimmermann), Dutch (Molenaar), Italian (Ricordi) and Spanish (Mundi Musica). These books on contemporary flute technique are the acknowledged standard in the field.