An Unexpected and Treasured Musical Gift

Ebony Radiata Pine Flute by Rich Halliburton

A Chance Meeting

I first met Rich Halliburton of Querencia Woodwinds at a flute festival in Springdale, UT near Zion National Park over five years ago. He was at an adjacent table at breakfast – grumbling or laughing – I can’t remember which.  Maybe a bit of both.  I remember instantly liking his persona — rough about the edges — almost as if to conceal a deeply-thoughtful and artistic inner-man.  I might have been projecting at the time, but as the years have unfolded, I have not changed my initial impression – except maybe to be more committed to it.  I made a couple of quips to his remarks during breakfast; he would soon forget the incident.

My memory tells me that I saw Rich again the following year in St. George, UT at another festival.  As I was just a by-stander,  he probably would have not remembered, as he was engaged in conversation again in his gruff yet humorous manner.

Five years later, earlier this year I received a call from Rich, which went something like this:

“…. I have just heard your music and I love it!  Your approach to it is so much different than the typical Native American-style flute music that I hear.  I’d like to meet you sometime!”

I informed Rich that we had met — twice, but he would not have remembered.

The Gift

Since that conversation, we have kept in touch.  And on a recent trip to Arizona to visit his daughter and son-in-law, we got together.  At one point in the conversation, he produced a fleece flute bag and handed me the flute that was inside (pictured above) as a gift!

What a work of art!  The more that I inspected it, the more detail came to light.  His description of the flute is:

Ebony Radiata Pine Flute (A flute-player’s flute) 

This material is plantation-grown in New Zealand, organically hardened and pressure colorized throughout…

Woods used in this instrument include a mouthpiece of twice-died box elder burl, between layers of African ebony, capped with the radiata.  The fetish or totem is cut from radiata, bonded to a base of Oklahoma red cedar, with wing overlays in paua abalone and additional ebony.

Inlay to the flute begins at the mouthpiece, with a 6mm dome-cut hematite cab., flanked by 4.4mm abalone cabs.  The pyro design as well as a small burl void were filed with crushed Arizona chrysocolla.  The sides of the compression chamber are each set with matching 22mm disks of box elder burl and 6mm hematite cabs, while the arca forward from the fetish was set with an 18x25mm quartz-capped black mother-of-pearl oval.  The finger holes are accented with four 4mm abalone cabs and a 7x12mm diamond-cut abalone cab as well.  Lastly, the fetish has a 6mm trillion-cut, Brazilian azotic topaz set to the crown, and  2.4mm hematite beads set as eyes.”

The Artist’s Curse

I am fascinated by how many talented people that I meet suffer from the ‘artist’s curse.’  No matter what the achievement, they still find time to question themselves and the value of their art.  A poignant example is the ‘Actor’s Prayer:’

“Oh, God — Please don’t let the audience find out that it’s only me!”

When I called Rich to thank him again for the flute he asked, “Do you really like it? Are you sure?”  When I informed him that I loved it, I thought I detected a faint sigh of relief.

Repaying the Gift

I don’t know how I am going to repay Rich’s kindness, but I am starting by just playing the gift:


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