The Levit Flutes Roundtable at Flute Pro Shop January 17 2014
On Sunday, we at Flute Pro Shop hosted Lev Levit and David Houston from Levit Flutes as they presented us with an overview of their fine flutes, manufacturing approach, and an insight to the engineering that goes into the production of a fine handmade flute.
Levit Flutes sent three flutes for all of us to audition the week prior to their arrival. The Levit Standard gold flute with sterling keys was my personal favorite, but then I play on a gold flute. I was very pleased with the compact, complex quality to the sound, quick response, and ease of articulation. The pinless mechanism is very silky and the scale very even throughout the range. The Levit Standard silver flute was brighter than the gold flute, in a well balanced and easy to nuance sound. The third flute sent to us was a Kingma System flute. I can’t pretend to know how to best utilize this flute. The key work is complex and beautiful. I was impressed with how the additional keys didn’t interfere with traditional fingerings and how facile the keys were. There is a little added weight, but it was not a negative factor for me.
Lev and David also brought along an instrument that was in process. All the metal parts were placed on a table, and we could see the construction of the flute from the tube to the ribs, posts, steels, keys, springs, and so on. Completely fascinating to see the flute “undressed” like this, and also how lightning fast David, Lev, and our David Kee could assemble the key work.
It takes 100 hours to make a flute. At Levit Flutes, Lev does all of the flute making, while David finishes the flute. They explained that the engineering and initial assembly is empirical, while much of the finishing is intuitive. The balance of the two ways of thinking was apparent in the conversation between David and Lev. They both had answers to our questions, but their approach was sometimes dramatically different. The discussion was often very lively and fun.
What was wonderfully apparent was the passion with which each partner brought to the flute making process. That, and the deep knowledge they each had for flute making.
Lev is the protégé of Bic Brannen, and reflects deep respect for the great flute maker. The scale and headjoint design can be traced back to the legendary Albert Cooper. The key work was designed by Bic Brannen for the Oston-Brannen flute. As Mr. Brannen says, “No flutist seeking to purchase a premium quality instrument can afford to make a decision without first trying the Levit Flute”.
Here at Flute Pro Shop, we are proud to promote these fine flutes, and the men behind them!