Flutist Gary Stroutsos to Command the Acoustics of Southside Presbyterian Church

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TOM WIEWANDT
  • Tom Wiewandt
“In the spirit of playing in sacred spaces, which I'm known for,” says world flute artist Gary Stroutsos, “That space—not necessarily just the acoustics, but the atmosphere lends itself to being musical collaborator, a partner.”

As a member of Southside Presbyterian Church (317 W. 23rd St.), I’ve heard the sound of that room enrich mariachi, waila, gospel, Christian pop and every kind of cumbia: acoustic, electric and electronic. Its kiva-like Bob Vint design, circular floorplan, fieldstone floor and wooden structural elements support subtle dynamics in sound and spread them throughout the room.

Stroutsos is especially sensitive to such qualities. He is an expert in the sound of wooden flutes, employed the world over in spiritual, pursuits. He lectures frequently about the instruments, and his records are popular among yoga and meditation practitioners as well as world music fans.

His contributions to the soundtrack of a Ken Burns PBS documentary earned him a performance at the White House for President Bill Clinton. More recently, he scored the award-winning, wordless nature film, Desert Dreams. 

“I like to stay close to many different spiritual traditions,” Stroutsos says, “most American jazz, Afro-Cuban music and [what] I call serene and meditative folk music inspired by Asia.” He began as a jazz flutist, studying under master players and composers in American and Afro-Cuban transitions.


For the kiva program, he says, “I’m going to be playing some serene and meditative music and also, I'm going to do a tribute for someone that passed away that used to live in Rio Rico. He was a great jazz flute player. His name was Paul Horn.” He will perform a composition from Horn’s 1968 release, Inside the Taj Mahal, which was, in fact, recorded in the historic palace in India.

Far from a palace, Southside’s kiva and Stroutsos flutes will nonetheless offer an enchanting evening. Stroutsos will perform on Saturday, March 5, beginning at 7 p.m. A $10 to $20 sliding scale donation will be taken at the door. 

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