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And your compere is
Paula Robison!

BILL NEWMAN talks to the American flautist, campaigner and announcer of the Spoleto Festival's mid-day concerts


Am I correct assuming that neither you or your husband Scott Nickrenz ever played in an orchestra?

'We were both trained to play with orchestras when young, but at some point we decided to take our chances and go solo. I've often regretted not having the chance to play Mahler, those marvellous Brahms Symphonies, Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe.

Have you always played the flute? 'I started on the piano, and soon found it was not for me, and I deviated to other instruments. Then somebody handed me a flute, and I found it was the most natural thing in the world. It was waiting for me, and I for it.

'I've performed mostly in the United States but also been to Europe, sometime in Asia. But that's a different concept. I've commissioned music for flute and orchestra from various American composers, like Leon Kirschner, and from Toro Takemitsu, who is more global -- a beautiful piece called I Hear the Water Dreaming. Then, there are several younger contemporaries -- George Perle, and Robert Beaser who began by writing chamber music, then an opera. He has contributed a large piece for me that features the wonderful sounds of nature. My main ideal is that there should be new music to perform after me!'

There's no big work by Beethoven, and what a pity that Prokofiev never wrote a Flute Concerto. There is the Second Violin Sonata, which is often played in its original version for flute and piano. 'With the war all around him, he wrote that piece about the countryside all around. It's a great work.'

When the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy played at the Harringay Arena in 1948, I went back stage to talk to Principal Flautist William Kincaid who had just performed the lovely Night Soliloquy by Kent Kennan. 'My goodness! He was an idol of mine when I was very young. He was very aristocratic to look at and had his own rich sound, very difficult to define but typical of many of the students he taught at the American School of Flautists at the Curtis Institute. I decided early on to revolt against this kind of bright, orderly sound, with all the notes perfectly in place.'

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Copyright © 24 May 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK







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