Lifetime Achievement Award, 2021
Sharyn Byer graduated from the University of Miami School of Music where she was a soloist with the Wind Ensemble under Frederick Fennell.
As a music educator, Ms. Byer directed the instrumental music program at The Langley School in McLean, Virginia. She has taught at the Columbia Institute of Fine Arts in Falls Church, Virginia for many years. The Institute has been renamed in her honor.
Ms. Byer has led an illustrious performing career with numerous ensembles in the Washington, DC area, including The Friday Morning Music Club, Trillium, Dominion Duo, and First Light Ensemble. Ms. Byer was the Principal Flutist with the Mclean Symphony Orchestra for over 20 years, and is currently the Principal Flutist of the Capital City Symphony in Washington, DC, where she recently completed her 20th season. Ms. Byer has performed throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area, including The Kennedy Center, The White House, Wolf Trap, the Helen Hayes Gallery of The National Theatre, the French Embassy, the Music Center at Strathmore, Anderson House, the Heurich House Museum, and the Lyceum.
Ms. Byer has performed extensively with flute choirs all over the world. She has appeared with the National Flute Association Professional Flute Choir, the International Flute Orchestra, and the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra. She has toured with the International Flute Orchestra in Northern and Eastern Europe, Russia and the Baltic countries, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Chile, China and Japan. As a member of the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra, Sharyn has performed in Iceland, England, and Scotland, as well as in Jordan Hall in Boston. And at any flute convention, local or national, Sharyn could always be found hauling her contrabass flute from one rehearsal to another, glasses perched atop her head and a smile on her face.
A beloved director, Ms. Byer founded the esteemed Columbia Flute Choir in 1994, which has been entertaining audiences ever since. The ensemble features all commonly found members of the flute family (piccolo, C flute, alto flute, bass flute), and also contains the rarer contr'alto, contrabass, subcontr'alto, and double contrabass flutes, most of which Sharyn owns! Columbia Flute Choir has been invited to perform at The White House, The National Theater, and at The Kennedy Center. Notably, in 2016, Ms. Byer and the Columbia Flute Choir were invited to perform at the concert of Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway at The Kennedy Center. Ms. Byer always championed local composers, notably among them Alexandra Molnar-Suhajda (better known as Alix) and Melvin Lauf, Jr. Ms. Byer has conducted the choir in recital at the National Flute Association Convention in Washington, DC in 2002, in Pittsburgh in 2006, in New York City in 2009 and again in Washington, DC in 2015. It was at that 2015 National Flute Association Convention that Sharyn was invited to conduct the Opening Flute Orchestra, which was comprised of over 200 flutists.
A Life Member of The Flute Society of Washington, Sharyn served two terms as President of the Board of Directors, from 1997-2000. She is a cherished member of the organization. Ms. Byer conducted the Festival Flute Choir at FSW’s Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention in 2017, and received the President’s Award for exemplary service to the organization in that same year.
Sharyn was married to her husband of 48 years, Barry Byer, and together they had two children, Lauren and Leland. She also had three grandchildren of whom she is exceedingly proud.
Sharyn passed away peacefully on January 15, 2021, surrounded by her loving family. We, her extended FSW family, cherished Sharyn’s smile, her musicianship, grace, beauty, class and devotion. As a tribute to Sharyn’s legacy, a scholarship to cover annual FSW membership dues for a select number of deserving students has been established in Sharyn’s name. Her mentoring of flutists through Columbia Flute Choir and First Light has always fostered a feeling of connection. “It's more than just a flute choir. It's a family.”