Janet King, Chairman of the Alderley Edge Orchestra, comes from a long line of flautists: her grandfather played the flute and her father was a keen player with the Manchester-based Beethoven Society orchestra until his recent death at the age of 84. She has played with The Alderley Edge Orchestra for the past ten years, and joined the orchestral committee two years ago. Like her father, she also appears with the Beethoven Society, playing flute and piccolo.
She enjoys all types of classical music but admits to a particular liking of smaller scale chamber music by composers like Poulenc, Debussy and Ravel. When not making music, looking after her husband and Jasper the cat, her relaxations include gardening, patchwork and embroidery.
Janet has an unusual claim to fame - she has played in a schoolboys' international football final at Wembley and a rugby international at Twickenham. But not in a sporting sense: on each occasion, she was playing the euphonium in the Women's Royal Air Force Band!
Although the flute has been around for many centuries, it did not come into general orchestral use until the early 18th century.
The mechanics of the instrument are relatively straightforward: a silver or wooden tube is closed off at one end and an aperture is cut into the side, across which the players blows to produce the required note. The modern design of flute owes much to the German maker Theobald Boehm who, in the 1830s, worked out the correct position for the holes along the length of the instrument which determine the pitch of each note and developed the system of keys that enable the player to finger the notes with ease.
The range of the standard orchestral flute extends some three octaves above middle C; it is not a transposing instrument and music is therefore notated at concert pitch. Higher passages require the tiny piccolo which has a similar compass above top D (although the upper notes can be difficult to control), whilst at the other end of the scale the alto flute makes an occasional appearance to provide notes down to a low G.
An outstanding characteristic of the flute family is its tremendous agility and the repertoire is full of dazzling sequences that enable the player to demonstrate his or her skills. The great solo in Ravel's Daphnis and Chloé culminates in a tremendous exhibition of flute virtuosity, and amongst other well-known orchestral works for the flute are Mozart's flute concertos, the Serenade for flute, violin and viola by Beethoven and Bach's Suite in B minor.