Thanks to Summer Arts, I now am in love with the sound of flute and guitar together.
All it took was one concert earlier this week by the AlmaNova duo, whose two players, Almer Imamovic and Jessica Pierce, are instructors in the flute and guitar workshop at the California State University Summer Arts program at Fresno State.
So, what was it about Imamovic and Pierce's performance that opened my ears to this wonderful combination of instruments?
On fresnobeehive.com, I wrote that as I listened to them play I kept thinking of two swallows hurling through the sky -- diving, soaring, swooping, with first one and then the other taking the lead, the two of them sometimes exploding with energy but more often quietly flitting here and there in a graceful, intuitively choreographed display of seamless connection.
The pair is married in real life, and they have a stage relationship that is touching to watch. Imamovic strums his guitar so smoothly at times it's as if he's caressing a stone, and Pierce's flute lyrically fills the hall with a gentle, effortless swell. Watching Imamovic watch his wife as they play is particularly sweet. He stands when he plays, and he periodically turns to gaze at her, his shoulders pulsing with the beat almost as if the two are dancing.
There's a strong Eastern European influence in AlmaNova's songs, which is not surprising considering Imamovic's Bosnian roots. (He writes much of the group's material.) Slightly exotic yet with a velvety finish, the duo's sound never delves into meditative Windham Hill territory, but it also projects a mellow, accomplished mood. Many of the songs have direct ethnic connections: "Sarajevo Nights" seems to twinkle with the vitality of a city, and "Moj Golube," an arrangement of a Macedonian folk song, captures the age-old story of love and loss.I was entranced, and I'm going to track their CDs down for a further listen. I know I'm looking forward to hearing their colleagues play, as well.