When you think of the pan flute, you might think of music from “The Neverending Story,” “The Karate Kid”and the classic character known for playing the magical instrument: Peter Pan.
“The sound just kind of caught me right away, it’s a sound that kind of resonated with my being,” said pan flutist Sean Koreski, who will give a concert at the Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24. Tickets are $15.
For Koreski, this concert is a chance to come home and revisit his musical roots. His interest and career in playing the pan flute started to take shape when his family lived in Astoria during his youth.
Self-taught pan flutist
Koreski, a Polish-American and Vancouver-based musician, said the first time he heard the pan flute was by a Romanian artist named Gheorghe Zamfir. Both his father and grandfather had the records of the artist and Koreski would listen to them.
Koreski would try to imitate what Zamfir did because there was no teacher in the Astoria area.
“There used to be infomercials for [Zamfir’s] music on TV and I’d sit there and I’d watching it because that was my classroom. I’d see how he stood, his posture, his movement, so I tried to imitate that as closely as possible,” Koreski said.
Romania considers the pan flute its national instrument. The pan flute is also popular in Koreski’s native Poland. His father always encouraged him to look into something cultural from east Europe.
Koreski’s first pan flute and workbook were purchased at Thiel’s Music when the family lived in Astoria during the mid 80s and early 90s.
Koreski was born in 1979 in Goldendale, Washington. The family later lived in Fossil, Oregon, before coming to Astoria.
Playing a variety of pan flutes
At the concert, Koreski plans to plays eight or nine different types of pan flutes. He will play classical music selections for solo pan flute on the east European pan flute as well as South American Folk music with Flamenco guitar, which Koreski will play at the same time.
Koreski also has a self-playing chamber organ he designed and crafted that will accompany him.
“The pipe organ can basically play the entire part of an orchestra,” Koreski said.
The pan flute, as it turns out, is the grandfather of the pipe organ which was modeled after the instrument.
He will play works by Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Purcell and other classical composers at the concert.
How the instrument works
Koreski makes the pan flutes he plays from bamboo. The pan flute is made of several tubes, ranging from seven to 47 tubes, depending on the pan flute. Pan flutes used for playing classical music have 22 tubes. There are no finger holes like on a modern flute.
“It all depends on which pipe you’re blowing in, they each have their own tone and then you can achieve other harmonic or half tones and harmonics depending on how you blow on the pipes,” Koreski said.
The pipes can change their pitch depending on the angle the musician blows at. Sound also only comes from the end the player blows from as the other side is plugged.
Vibrato is also important for playing the pan flute to give it its rich, mystic tone.
Koreski learned how to built pan flutes from the musician Andres Gmelin when Koreski was in Bolivia with the ensemble he was playing with at the time. Koreski specializes in building east European style pan flutes.
Performing as a solo artist provides Koreski a lot of freedom and flexibility. He has recorded many albums of solo pan flute, including most recently “Serenity.”
Koreski will be joined by young musicians from his church: acoustic guitarist Alberto Benitez and pianist and organist Gary Becerra.
Benitez said he was inspired to learn and play acoustic guitar from his brother and guitarist Andy McKee. He will play a piece by Kalin Graham titled “Tears on My Toes” at the concert.
Becerra, who has played piano since he was nine years old, will be making his organ playing debut at the concert with the “Star Wars” Main Theme and Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.”
Furthering his connection to Astoria, Koreski said one of the first concerts he went to was at the Performing Arts Center.
“I really enjoyed that and for some reason I could always envision myself playing but in my mind I was always thinking the Performing Arts Center,” Koreski said.
When he takes the stage, Koreski hopes to bring a “greater sense of calm” to audiences and “kind of an uplifting feeling so that everybody kind of comes out floating on a little cloud of air. I want everybody to feel happy and inspired.”