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(2,081 posts)
8. That's PANFluteman, Stevepol!
Fri Jun 17, 2016, 08:53 AM
Jun 2016

While there are hundreds, even thousands, of Americans who play the regular transverse flute, I am one of only a very few Americans who play the PANflute. In fact, to my knowledge, I am THE first American to ever play the PANflute! I was a student of the Romanian gypsy master of the Panflute, Damian Luca (you can google him up on YouTube) who was invited by professor Robert Garfias, head of the ethnomusicology department at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1976. Damian Luca had several students at the University of Washington, but I was his best student there, and he encouraged me to keep on playing. Several years later, I was a professional Panflutist with an Andean band in the San Francisco Bay area in the mid nineties - and made more money as a professional Panflutist than anything else I have ever done before or since.

What is the Panflute, you may ask? To that question, my standard answer is: You know the Greek god Pan, who was half goat and half man, and the kind of flute with multiple pipes and no finger holes that he invented? Well, I play the modern, acoustically perfected, concert instrument version of that most ancient and mythical of wind instruments. I not only play the Panflute, but I also make my own authentic, concert quality Panflutes from bamboo.

The most famous player of the Panflute is Gheorghe Zamfir, from Gaesti, Romania, some fifty miles northwest of Bucharest. I have studied with him in Romania as well as with Damian Luca, as well as with other players who have had something to teach me. Damian Luca's uncle Fanica Luca, came from a big family of Romanian gypsy musicians, and sang and played violin and other instruments, but he was most well known as a master of the Panflute (you can google up old recordings of him on YouTube as well). Seeing, in the forties that only a handful of feeble old men played the Panflute, he set out to teach a new generation of musicians how to play this beautiful and fascinating instrument, otherwise, he knew that the art of the Panflute would go extinct. Damian Luca, my first teacher at the UW, being Fanica Luca's first real student (Fanica first tried to teach his son, but he had no aptitude for it) started accompanying his uncle on concert tours, and became a kind of "poster boy" for his uncle's teaching, inspiring other parents to send their children to him for instruction. Gheorghe Zamfir, the famous King of the Panflute, was also a student of Fanica Luca, the gandaddy of the Panflute. The story of how he got into the Panflute is a rather interesting one: He went to music conservatory dead set on learning and mastering the accordion, but the accordion class quickly closed due to lack of interest and enrollment; and so Zamfir was shoved, dead set against his wishes, into the Panflute class of Fanica Luca.

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