May 21, 2010 Volume 111 Number 10

'Flute Fandango' wants to set Guinness record

Portland Musicians Local 99 is looking for any and all flutists to help break the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest flute ensemble to ever perform.

The idea was hatched by Denise Westby, a member and past president of Local 99, as a way to have some fun while at the same time raise money for a good cause. That cause is the Music Education Assistance Project (MEAP). MEAP is the union’s non-profit arm that provides grants for private lessons to financially in-need music students and performances and clinics conducted by union members.

As a longtime flutist and owner of the Flute Alliance, which organizes summer student flute camps and adult “flute vacations,” Westby is aware of how large a pool of players there is to draw from.

“Everyone knows a flute player,” she said. “A friend, a child, a grandparent, a teacher, a co-worker, a member in your church ... we are everywhere.”

Westby is seeking flutists (and piccolo players, too) of all levels of ability and all ages to join her Friday, Aug. 6, at Oaks Amusement Park in Portland for “Flute Fandango.”

Music is being composed especially for the occasion by Phyllis Louke, president of the Greater Portland Flute Society, allowing flutists of all levels to participate. Players will receive a T-shirt commemorating the event, the fun of being part of a Guinness Book World Record, and the knowledge that with a $25 donation they are keeping music education going for kids who might otherwise not have had that opportunity.

The world record for the largest flute ensemble is currently held by the National Flute Association with 1,989 players. Before that, it was Chinese music students with 1,976. Westby’s goal is to get 2,010 players at Oaks Park.

“We want to see beginners in middle school through old pros — anyone who has ever played a flute can participate,” Westby said.

For more information, or to register for Flute Fandango, go to Westby’s website at, or call Musicians Local 99 at 503-235-8791.