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Robinson presents debut album, ‘Aviary’

Elizabeth Robinson, assistant professor of music in the South Dakota State University School of Performing Arts, has released her debut album. “Aviary” was released by Aerocade Music in late March 2023. 

Flutist and educator Elizabeth Robinson is an active soloist, orchestral and chamber performer. Originally from rural Tennessee, she nurtured her music career by creating many of her own performance opportunities. As an educator, she defines her career through creating those opportunities for other musicians and contributing to the cultural growth of the region. Among her passions is the commissioning of new music, creating educational opportunities for her studio and participating in exciting chamber ensembles. 

Elizabeth Robinson poses with her flute in front of a yellow background

Audiences know the trope of the flute-as-bird: light, graceful, airborne. What happens when the familiar becomes unexpected? This album features a series of newly commissioned works for flute and flute quartet that explore the familiar sounds of nature. This can include the flute as a bird, but with a twist: chickens, penguins and other avian oddities, but also a foray into the supernatural. 

The first piece on the album was composed in 2018, before Robinson had envisioned the larger album project. Various pieces have inspiration drawn from a variety of bird behaviors like the ballet dance of flamingos or the sparkling personality of rock hopper penguins. “One of the pieces, ‘Hoppy Feet,’ was part of a COVID-19 and social distancing project run by the composer, Kim Osberg, in which she wrote 12 works in 12 weeks,” explained Robinson. “I provided the instrumentation and inspiration, which was rock hopper penguins."

Robinson continued, “More specifically, there was a video of a really enthusiastic rock hopper at a zoo, hopping in circles around some other penguins who looked very annoyed. It was very popular on social media and my husband commented that the penguin reminded him of me!”

Commissioning continued in bursts, with most works created between 2020 and 2021. “It’s usually closer to a 6-12 month process, but we put mixing, mastering and releasing on hold for a little while so I could move from Missouri to South Dakota, and get settled in my new position here,” explained Robinson. 

The inspiration for “Aviary” was whimsy—a fun, sometimes silly, sometimes joyful exploration of the natural world—with the flute as a medium. “A lot of new music is incredibly academic,” Robinson said. “I wanted my commissions to be accessible to a wide range of audiences, and hopefully persuade students—mine, other peoples’—to start loving new music as much as I do.” 

“Aviary” is available for downloading and streaming on your favorite site.

Learn more about Elizabeth Robinson.