FLUTE Member Of The Week
July 19 to 25, 1999
It's not easy writing about yourself to such a large and yet intimate group as the FLUTE list so let me first introduce you to my grandson, Brandon Sondrini. He hasn't started the flute yet because his hands might be a tiny bit small. (Some teachers may disagree!)

Anyway, I grew up in Ontario, Canada. My father was a journalism professor and my mother is a children's book author. I am the youngest of their 5 kids. Musically, I started my education at age 7 with piano lessons and singing in a boys choir. After turning 10 we moved from Toronto to a very rural part of Ontario. Traveling to a new piano teacher was difficult in our tiny town so I played the recorder, guitar, and clarinet for a couple of years before I discovered the flute.

The day after graduating from high school I moved back to Toronto and spent a summer as a street musician (my first professional flute gig). Six months later, just after I turned 18, I began a 3 year apprenticeship with Jack Goosman Flutes to help pay for college tuition. My intention at the time was to major in flute performance and composition. While learning the flutemaking trade, I found that I really loved working with my hands and particularly with the silver. I also enjoyed hearing the flutes I helped make performed in concert by their new owners. I continued to study part time but my commitment to performance took a back seat as my interest in flutemaking grew.

In 1979, I left Canada and headed for Boston to start a job with the Powell Flute Company. During the 10 years I worked there as a 'stringer'(making flute mechanisms) and developing the skills of the silversmith and flutemaker, I got married and began raising a family, worked on my flute playing, got my pilot's license, attempted skydiving & hang gliding, studied writing and literature at various colleges, and wrote 2 novels (I haven't worked hard on marketting them- so they languish in a box). In '86, my wife, Meredith, took a job at Powell in the padding department while I strung flutes for them from a shop in our home.
In 1988 we moved our family to Toronto and I started developing the Lunn flute. I redesigned several aspects of the mechanism both aesthetically and for easier reach & comfort. Ever since my first year of flutemaking I had my own ideas about flute designs. I envisioned the flute as an art form and sculpture rather than just a machine or tool for making music. I had made drawings and designs of the flute as a tree with leaves and branches and fruit instead of straight arms, levers and cups. I wanted each flute I made to be a unique sculpture of its own and each one handfit to the flutist who owns it. (Rather than go into detail here, you can read about my flutes and the art nouveau designs on my webpage listed below). The Art Nouveau ("Vanguard") Lunn flute premiered in 1989 at the National Flute Association (NFA) convention in New Orleans.

By designing the mechanism for comfort and improved reach, I began meeting flutists who had problems with their hands. Many asked if I could design special keys to relieve their problems on their own flutes. Before long, I started hearing from flutists all over the world hoping that I might be able to help them recover from an injury or reach problem. I discovered that by learning about the underlying physical causes of each flutists' problem I could better design the flute mechanism to suit their needs. At the same time, for many, all they needed was help finding information or referrals. So, in 1993, we started the flutist's health care newsletter HANDS ON! to help flutists find information about, and solutions to, performance injuries. It is available free both in print and online.

We returned to New England in 1991 and settled in Newport, New Hampshire. Meredith and I work together in our shop to produce a few flutes each year, offer repair services, and some modifications for hand problems. I do the metalwork and Meredith does the padding and finishing. In '93, I had the pleasure of working with Albert Cooper to build four all 14K gold flutes with him. This was a wonderful opportunity for me as I have always admired Mr. Cooper's abilities and contributions to flutemaking and he had retired from making new flutes many years earlier and has not made any since.

As the Vanguard flute has evolved with each successive instrument, their sculptural design has gained recognition in the fine art community. The flutes have been exhibited at various galleries in New England as works of art. Last year, a Lunn flute won the best in show award in an art exhibit called "The Creative Hand II" sponsored by the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and the New Hampshire Art Association. In June '99, a Lunn flute was on exhibit at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. representing a harmony of art and machining.

So that's the short version. Outside of flutes, in what may loosely be termed "spare time" I got involved in local politics and was elected for several years to our town council until I retired in '98. Meredith raises and trains Australian Shepherd dogs, and our 2 kids have grown up and moved out to start families of their own. Musically, I've come full circle and I'm back to playing the piano, with the music of Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and other early jazz composers. I'm a backyard astronomer, I've written a couple of screenplays (I really need to get out and sell them!) and started a stop-motion animation studio where I make animated film shorts. (You can see an MPEG clip at Cheapshot Productions).

You can get more detail about the Art Nouveau "Vanguard" design by visiting Lunn Flutes

Our online newsletter about finding solutions to flutists hand problems is available at HANDS ON!

Visit the town of Newport website if you would like to see the New England town we live in. (I also built the website)

John Lunn


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