Friday, April 25, 2014

Powell's 70th Anniversary and the NFA

Powell Custom Wooden Flutes debuted at the 1997 NFA
As we were preparing for the this year's NFA Convention in Chicago, we happened to discover a few materials in our archive from a previous year when the Convention was held in the same location.  The 1997 NFA Convention took place in Chicago and marked two significant milestones for Verne Q. Powell Flutes -- an anniversary and a product debut.  Founded in 1927, Powell celebrated its 70th anniversary in 1997.  In celebration of its anniversary, Powell also introduced a new wooden flute.  We uncovered one of the original 1997 brochures for the NFA Convention, which described the new flute as follows:

Powell's new wooden flute hearkens back to a time when all flutes were made of wood, and also looks forward to a new century where all things are possible.

The abandonment of wooden flutes came about as musical tastes changed, and as metal-working techniques became more sophisticated.  Precious metal flutes had the further advantage of never cracking, and being relatively light and comfortable.

Our new wooden flute retains the warm sonority of traditional wooden instruments.  However, the surprise for today's flutist goes beyond the instrument's beautiful keywork and amazing comfort.  This Powell flute, made of grenadilla or red ironwood, provides wonderfully quick articulation.  Durability and response have been enhanced by unified mechanical construction, and by crafting separate grenadilla tone holes that are then attached to the wooden body.  This is an instrument that is equally at home playing baroque chamber works as it is performing modern music with a large orchestra.
Looking at the brochure, we can see that there are some differences between the wooden flutes from 1997 and the current ones.  In 1997, the flutes were made with tone holes that were attached to the body.  Today, the tones holes are carved from the body (see our previous post on wooden flute tone holes by clicking here).  Also, in 1997 there was an option of grenadilla or ironwood bodies and either an offset or "half offset" G.  Today's wooden Custom Powell flutes are all made from grenadilla and have an offset G -- although we did experiment and produce an inline G, which you can see by clicking here to go to the Facebook album.

We are looking forward to the 2014 NFA Convention and will have a few new things at the booth once again...  Stay tuned by following announcements on our Facebook page and website.

Front of brochure
Back of brochure
Description of wooden flute
Inside of brochure, unfolded

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