HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES

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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

 

Harvey Sollberger has hit another high note in a storied career as a flutist, composer and conductor. The Strawberry Point resident was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Flute Association. Given sparingly and thoughtfully since it was established in 1991, the award honors fruitful and distinguished careers like Harvey’s.

Harvey traveled to Washington D.C. last month to accept the honor, perform, lecture and teach a master class.

Though music has taken him all over the U.S. and to many foreign cities, Harvey has Northeast Iowa roots and has always referred to the state as his home. His mother, Margaret Dennler was born in 1911 to Swiss-American parents who lived in a log cabin near Elgin.

“Though I grew up in Marion, I also sort of grew up traveling up and down Highway 13 going to Elgin to see my grandparents,” said Harvey. “My love for the rivers and hill country of Northeast Iowa thus goes back to my childhood.”

Another love, his wife, Marla, is the reason the couple moved to Strawberry Point after he retired from teaching at the university level in California. Marla’s children and eight grandchildren live in Iowa. Harvey’s daughters are both artists living in Vermont.

Harvey credits a former music teacher named Paul W. Wright for getting him interested in the flute at age 11. But the flute was not his first instrument.

“I also play the accordion, which my parents started me on when I was four,” he said. “I played it until I was 18 and then left it behind for 50 years. I’m now playing it again and I love it.”

Harvey performed with the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band while still a student at Marion High School. He studied flute at the University of Iowa and after graduating continued his studies at Columbia University on a prestigious scholarship. His compositions have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Diego Symphony and others throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. In all, his works as a composter, conductor and flutist have been documented on more than 130 commercially released recordings.

Naming a favorite piece of music is easy for Harvey. He’s partial to an “epic, giant piece for solo flute (27 minutes long) written in 1954 by an Italian composer named Giacinto Scelsi. He performed it at last month’s NFA convention.

“It stands apart from all other flute music I know in concentrating such wisdom and intensity of expression into a single solo flute line,” he said. “I never get tired of playing it.”

 A career that spans as many decades as Harvey’s has had its share of challenges and rewards.

“They’re actually connected,” Harvey said. “The rewards wouldn’t mean much without a deep, sincere and years long commitment to music on my part. The greatest rewards have to do with learning: learning to do things I couldn’t do before; learning that takes me (and my listeners, I hope) into new and rewarding regions of experience that I didn’t even know existed before I began to explore them and connect the dots.”

Though he’s retired from teaching and performs less than in his younger days, Harvey remains musically active.

“I find retirement to be an excellent time for going ever deeper into my musical interests,” he said. “There’s so much left to learn and explore.”

 
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