FLUTE Member Of The Week
June 7 to 13, 1999
Hi to all the FLUTE people! I was very honored when Larry asked me if I would be willing to be the Member of the Week. It has been fun reading about the previously featured list members, and nice to be able to feel like I know some of you better, and to see what a fascinating group we flutists are. I always tell my students that flutists are the highest form of human evolution, and this list just proves it!

Here’s the official bio, straight from what I had to submit for this year’s NFA program book (I could have 900 characters)....

Andra Bohnet, Chair of the NFA Special Publications Committee, is Associate Professor of Flute at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, and principal flutist of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and the Gulf Coast Symphony in Biloxi, MS. She frequently appears as a soloist and with the Silverwood Quartet, which recently released their debut CD, throughout the Gulf Coast region. Previous NFA Convention appearances have included a performance at the 1995 convention in Orlando and a workshop presentation “The MIDI/Multimedia Flute Choir” at the 1994 convention in Kansas City. She holds a B.M. from the University of the Pacific, and M.M. from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. Teachers include Roger S. Stevens and Michael Stoune.

Now for the rest of the story...

I started playing flute in the 5th grade through my school band program in Waukegan, Illinois. I didn’t really choose it specifically. My mom was a kindergarten teacher and the band director used to teach in her classroom in the afternoons (in those days they had half day kindergarten). During my 4th grade year the band director had gotten to know me through my prowess on the Tonette (a plastic “pre-band instrument” similar to a flutophone and not nearly as cool as a recorder). Anyway, one afternoon the band director sent one of the school flutes (a nickel plated Bundy) home with my mom to see if I was interested in playing it. I was, and she signed me up for the summer band program, and the rest is history. Being a competitive sort, I was very motivated by wanting to be in the top band, be first chair, play all the solos, etc. so I actually practiced quite a bit, and by my second year in high school, I had clawed my way to the top of the heap, so to speak.

I started taking private lessons in 7th grade and around this same time I wanted a flute of my own. My parents did a lot of research and were told the best flute you could get was a Haynes, which were going new for around $1K (late ‘60s). Being frugal, they found someone selling one which had been in their attic for 25 years or so for $300 with the added bonus of a Selmer Db piccolo thrown in. After it was overhauled and “untarnished” (it was totally black), I played that flute until midway through my Master’s Degree when I got my first Muramatsu, an MF4 in 1981.

I guess this is as good a place as any for the equipment list -- I currently play on a Muramatsu DN #51671, in line, open, B foot, C# trill (a truly wonderful thing!), the older Muramatsu is my “spare” (same specs except for no C# trill). I have Roy Seaman piccolo #971 (original, not the Gemeinhardt version), a spare Yamaha wood picc. and that Selmer Db picc. which is unplayable now, but doesn’t take up too much space in my drawer, an Emerson alto flute with straight and curved heads (silver tube, not fabulous, but I really don’t play it much), various recorders, folk flutes, and whistles. I also have a Selmer Mark VI alto sax, a Martin bari sax, and a Bundy clarinet, all of which I play occasionally, mostly in pit orchestras. In the non-wind area, I have a Swanson Concert Grand pedal harp, and three Celtic harps of various sizes.

My family moved to California (Southern first, then Northern 9 months later) after my second year of high school, and I had lots of positive musical experiences with school bands in two different high schools, youth orchestras, and private teachers that convinced me to major in music in college. My college experiences were all fantastic. During my undergraduate years I met my future husband (a trombonist!) and a lot of lifelong friends, during my Master’s I got to study with the incomparable Roger Stevens who really helped me become the player I am today, and during my doctoral work I learned a lot about “academia” and what that career choice entails.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be in my present job situation, because I know how difficult and competitive the job market is for musicians. The University of South Alabama is a state institution with about 12,000 students, aand around 65 music majors. Since I’ve been here our faculty has turned over almost totally so that I have great, energetic colleagues who are all working hard to help our program grow. I was awarded tenure two years ago, and it’s wonderful to have that kind of job security. I also get to play principal flute in two orchestras, the Mobile Symphony (which also plays for Mobile Opera and Mobile Ballet) and the Gulf Coast Symphony, out of Biloxi, MS. Both orchestras are quite good from a regional standard, and the variety of repertoire is wonderful to play.

My biggest musical thrill right now comes from my chamber ensemble, the Silverwood Quartet, in which I play flute (and occasionally Celtic harp), along with violin, viola, and cello. We just spent June 1-4 recording our debut CD, which will be out in time for the NFA convention. Although we play the usual classical stuff, our specialties run more to ethnic/world music and jazz/pop, mostly our own arrangements and adaptations.
We’ll be playing twice at the Atlanta NFA Convention on Thursday, August 19. At 1:30, we’ll be on the Flute and Strings concert with “Fantasia on Themes of Jethro Tull.” We will also be playing the “Bosnian Folk Suite” on the evening concert at 8:00. Unfortunately, this performance means I’ll have to miss the FLUTE dinner, but y’all (Southern speak) will have to come and hear us afterwards. Both of these tunes are on our CD, along with a few classical things (Gordon Jacob and Fauré), some other ethnic stuff (I play harp on 3 tunes), and a little pop/jazz. The quartet plays a lot; recitals (not too formal, we have fun!), weddings and other miscellaneous gigs, and about 50 concerts a year in regional schools.

What do I do in my spare time (yeah, right!)? I play the harp, not great, but nobody within 75 miles plays it any better, so I do a lot of weddings and the occasional orchestral gig. I am a serious martial artist, a second degree black belt in the art of Soo Bahk Do, and train several hours a week. I love to read Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature, and was one of the first in my town to see the new “Star Wars” movie (awesome!). I also like sports (Chicago Cubs and San Francisco 49ers) and to and mess around with my computer (a Mac!). Besides my trombonist husband, Keith, with whom I’ll be celebrating our 20th anniversary this summer, I have a 12 year old son, Kelson, who is a reluctant cellist, and a 3 year old miniature schnauzer, Pepper, who is uncontrollably hyper.

I hope to see a lot of you at the the NFA Convention, even though I can’t make the dinner :-( Happy fluting to everybody, and my special thanks to Larry, Helen, John, and Nelson for everything they do to make this list great!

Andra Bohnet

Return to Featured Member Archive