FLUTE Member Of The Week
February 14 to 20, 2000

Franck Sonata
I started playing the flute when I was ten years old. It wasn't really love at first sight; as a matter of fact, I couldn't get a noise out of it for about a week! Gradually, though, it became an indispensable part of my life. So much a part, in fact, that somewhere in my teens I began considering music as a career. I was lucky enough at that point to be living in Ithaca, NY, which is essentially a college town. That meant a good school system, and an excellent music program. I also had access to some wonderful flute teachers while I was in high school. My parents had taken care to find all of the greatest resources for my brother and me. They did balk, however, when I announced that I wanted to be a professional musician! I did consider other paths at that point, but somehow I kept coming back to music, each time with more and more passion. So in the end, it wasn't even my choice! I just knew I had to give it my best. I'd see about the rest later.
I attended the Peabody Conservatory and began studies with Britton Johnson, a Kincaid student who was formerly Principal Flute with the Baltimore Symphony. He was in his twilight at the time, and in poor health. I never heard him play, but he knew how to shape a phrase even without the flute! He taught with beautifully descriptive metaphors.

At Peabody, I also studied with Tim Day, who was at that time the Principal with the BSO, and got me super-excited about the orchestral repertoire. The first time I heard him play the Brahms 4th solo, I realized anything was possible.

I went on to study with Wibb in Freiburg, Germany. I had only ever heard a few recordings of his, upon which I based my decision that I must study with him! Lessons with Wibb were a bit of a shock at first, since I had no preparation for his jubilant personality, and his very different way of doing things! Memories of these lessons are vivid in my mind to this day. It was an extremely intense two years. I think that my brain is still processing the things I heard from him, lo these many years ago!

After returning from Germany, I did some musical and non-musical freelance work to support myself while I was auditioning for orchestral jobs. Aware that I had learned a lot about making music, but not about auditioning, I called on someone who had just won a few himself: Mark Sparks, who was Acting Principal Flute with the Baltimore Symphony then. He was a huge help, so generous with his time, and he really whipped me into shape! A few months coaching with him, and I was ready for anything. Soon, I was invited to play with the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida. The NWS's schedule is the same as that of a professional orchestra. The difference is that the musicians are all under 30, and live in a hotel on Miami Beach. Some of the "daily life" kinds of chores are eliminated, so it's easier to concentrate on just making music. This was an invaluable experience because it prepared me for life as a full-time musician. (Well, I have to admit I worked on my tan a little bit, too!) Within two months of joining the New World Symphony, I won the Indianapolis Symphony's Principal Flute audition, and that's where I still am today.

The ISO is a 52-week orchestra, which of course keeps me very busy. We play seemingly countless classical, pops, family, school, Christmas, and outdoor concerts every year. Occasionally we also record and tour. If you'd like to check out our schedule, go to www.indyorch.org!

In addition to my duties with the ISO, I teach at Butler University. Musical activity outside of the orchestra is very important to me, as it gives me more room for creativity. I like to play occasional chamber music concerts with friends and colleagues, and the rare recital. (It's difficult to find the time!) The sound clip on this page is from a live performance with my dear friend, pianist Clinton Adams. I also very much enjoy playing traverso, and am happy to have an outlet for that in the recently formed Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra.

Balancing all of these things is sometimes not so easy! I have to be very careful about how much I take on at a time. I get so excited about every project that sometimes it's easy to forget how much effort will go into it! Experience has taught me some lessons in that regard.

A few years ago, I came to the realization that awareness of movement and regular physical exercise were going to be key to my musical and all-around well-being. I started taking regular lessons in the Alexander Technique, and at the same time became interested in "working out." This took on a few forms. It started with some bicycling, running, and weight lifting. Pretty soon, I was getting much stronger, and added yoga, rock climbing, and motorcycling to my list of hobbies. They really help keep things in perspective! Speaking of perspective, the sans-flute photo here was taken on top of Long's Peak in Colorado…

Going from perspective to specifications, I own a couple of Brannen-Cooper flutes. The most recently acquired one is their new Orchestral Model with a few extras: Left hand closed hole, right hand open hole, C# trill, split E with an on-off switch, high G# facilitator, and an angle-cluster footjoint. I'm pretty excited about it! I think it's even better than my other one. (And that's saying a lot!!)

Headjoints are always a separate issue for me, and I've experimented a bit in the past few years. Aside from the original Brannen, I have heads by Jack Moore, Ian McLauchlan, and Miguel Arista. They're all great, but I've been playing on Miguel's most often lately.

I think I've reached the end of my little story! A special thanks to my wonderfully supportive colleagues, students, friends, and family…..and to the flutelist owners, whose work, happily, brings the flute community together!

Karen Moratz


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