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Friday, December 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 43.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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From Baroque music to beatboxing, Wisconsin Flute Festival shows woodwind instruments' versatility (slideshow)

Flutes probably aren't the first thing that come to mind when discussing hip-hop, but Sam Hartley knew he could change the conversation. The UW-Madison sophomore brought extra rhythm and bass to his performance at the Wisconsin Flute Festival on Saturday. During "Three Beats for Beatbox Flute," he incorporated vocal melodies and percussion, drawing an enthusiastic response from the audience.

The fest, themed Flutes in Dairyland, was held at the UW's Pyle Center and included more than 25 performances from many of the 120 attendees. The music ranged from contemporary fare such as Hartley's performance to Baroque pieces played on wooden flutes and a concert by John Thorne, a professor at Northwestern University who used to play in the Houston Symphony.

Festival organizer Kim Dorr described Thorne's performance as "mesmerizing" and "beautiful," with a "very smooth, very even" tone, especially during sonatas by Mozart and Telemann.

Other performances included Wisconsin-themed programs by the Arbor Trio and the Fox Valley Flute Choir. UW-Oshkosh flute professor Linda Pereksta played an early-music recital with harpsichord accompaniment by John Chappell Stowe, a professor at UW-Madison.

Hartley's beatbox performance was a part of a program featuring UW-Madison flutists. Other young students performed for cash prizes.

Maria Vizcarra from Memorial High School won the young artist competition, beating out 11 other high school and middle school players. Leo Sussman from Lawrence University in Appleton won the Collegiate Competition, which included three competitors from UW-Madison.

Between performances, attendees visited educational sessions and vendor displays. Many left the festival with T-shirts, bags and "Got Flute?" buttons.

Watch a slideshow exploring the festival.

Started by the Madison Flute Club, the festival now migrates around the state. Like many of the area's instrument-specific events, attendance grew this year, to the satisfaction of Dorr and Susan Ketchum, co-founder of the Madison Flute Club. Patricia George, a teacher and the editor of Flute Talk magazine hopes to see more young musicians participate in the future.

"I think one thing that we need to work on ... is involving more high school players. If we could have three or 400 more high schoolers here today, I would consider it a big success," she says. "It's getting better every year."

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