Larry Krantz is hooked on the flute,
And it's consumed his life.
Is going global
With a Web site
Devoted to his
Krantz started playing with his father's dance band when he was 12 and stayed until he was 20. But along the way he'd learned more about what he'd need for his future as a musician, particularly if he wanted a degree and to play classical music. "Before long, it became clear that learning the clarinet would be a requirement," Krantz says, noting there weren't any university programs in playing the saxophone at the time. "And the classical world is still not a world heavily inhabited by saxophones," he adds.
The first outside job Krantz held as a musician was playing clarinet in the pit at the first Banff School of Fine Arts summer musical when he was 16. He attended the University of Calgary as a clarinet major, graduating four years later with a bachelor of music degree.
Along the way he learned that one doesn't get to play just the clarinet - orchestras and bands expected their woodwind players to contribute more than one instrument. So Krantz became a 'doubler,' a multi-woodwind specialist who plays sax, clarinet and - it became clear - flute. The problem was, he didn't really play the flute. So, at the age of 21, Krantz bought himself a cheap instrument. "It was obviously my last acquisition and therefore my weakest, so I found myself practising it the most, and eventually I fell in love with it," he says. "I'm just fascinated by the flute." "I found the sound to be extremely attractive, especially when played well." "It has a lyrical sound. I think flute players are closer to sounding like singers than any other woodwinds." It quickly became intertwined with his life.
He studied for his master of music degree at Michigan State University, specializing in woodwinds. Krantz credits his flute instructor there, Israel Borouchoff, with nurturing his interest in the flute, but it blossomed when he met flutist Geoffrey Gilbert at a class Gilbert taught in Calgary. The flute master agreed to let Krantz take a class in his Florida studio, and it became a tradition for Krantz to attend Gilbert's summer school until the teacher died in 1989. The teacher who took over the school from Gilbert suggested Krantz study flute in London, England at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. That post-graduate year was a turning point for Krantz, the year he decided to focus solely on the flute instead of spreading his skills among the woodwinds.
Since that time, he has taught and performed in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as in the United States and England. He has spoken at an American National Flute Association convention and at a British Flute Society convention.
Krantz's latest venture is to make global connections through flutes. Through his Web site, www.larrykrantz.com, he has started a discussion group that flute people around the world take part in: musicians, instrument makers and repair people, teachers, music writers - all have joined the Internet chat. Those checking into his Web site and leaving messages range from elementary school students doing projects for their band teachers to doctoral students preparing dissertations. "It's rather large," Krantz says of the site. "Which is why it gets visited so often. It's chock-full of information." Another connection visitors to the site can make is to check out the flute radio station he's set up - all flutes, all the time. Right now he has a four hour loop of music running, but he hopes to expand that eventually to 24 hours. There might be a few interviews with well-known flute teachers or musicians, but for the most part it'll just be music.
Krantz knows his way around computers well enough to have se up the home pages for a couple of internationally know flutists, James Galway and Alexa Still. One of the things he's learned while he's worked on the flute Web site is how close musicians can become through their computers. "We used to think that the musical world was a very small place and you knew everybody, but over the past five or so years it's shrunk considerably and you really do know most of the people."
Teaching is an integral part of Krantz's life, as it is a part of most performing musicians who need to pay bills. He takes a few students from around the Valley and Lower Mainland in his home studio and the Chilliwack Academy of Music, but Krantz doesn't insist they plan careers in music. All he asks is that they love the flute as he does. "The only thing that's relevant is that they enjoy playing and are willing to work hard to play better," Krantz says. "Some go to (musical) careers and some become doctors. But they can always play." And the torch is passed to the next generation.