FLUTE Member Of The Week
August 9 to 15, 1999
First of all, I am honored to be asked to be Flutist of the Week. Until recently I considered myself an internet "newbie", but when Larry kindly offered me this opportunity, I realised that my internet experience goes back to Flute-M (some years ago!). I thoroughly enjoy the List and all of the discussions and arguments. It has been a great resource for me as well. So hats off to the List owners!!

To give you some background on myself, I was born and raised in Centerport on Long Island, NY. My father taught high school and my mother was at the time also teaching art and weaving and painting as well. I also have a little brother who is now a pilot for US Airways. Around 5th grade (for me) we started moving around, first to Salt Lake City, then back to L.I., back to Salt Lake City and then to Chico, CA. During this time my Dad got his graduate degrees in communications, my mother still pursued art, eventually getting her master's degree as well. I had started playing the flute in 4th grade and continued with private instructors from then on. My first flute was a Wurlitzer closed hole, a rental that became mine for a whopping $60! By 7th grade I was playing in my school orchestra in SLC, with a wonderful director, Mr. Falcone. My flute teacher at the time was Christine Jorgensen.


I have been very lucky to have had good private instruction for flute all of my life, the teacher I spent the most time with was Daniel Hiestand in Chico, CA. He was the director of the band program at California State University,Chico (CSUC) and was also the flute instructor there. His teacher was Kenton Terry and his style of teaching was definitely Kincaid -derived. So I did a lot of Anderson etudes preceeded by a lot of Rubank! I studied with Mr. Hiestand for 7 years, through my first year of college and then transferred to the University of Puget Sound, where I started 3 years of flute study with Lawrence Ebert, originally from Pittsburgh and a Maurice Sharp & Bernard Goldberg devotee.

During this time I started doing summer festivals and institutes, Aspen in 1978 and 1981, the Bowdoin Chamber Music Festival, Oberlin Baroque Institute. These were really great for me, a wonderful chance to play flute in an intense and focussed way with great teachers. Through these venues I have met other flutists who have become great friends, and it is fun to run into them at masterclasses, conventions, and recitals.

After undergraduate school I did various things, worked for a whale research museum on San Juan Island in Washington State, lived in San Francisco and studied with Lloyd Gowen while supporting myself working in a law firm. and then moving to Evanston where I hooked up with Mary Louise Poor. Mary Louise was very influential for me musically and personally, I studied with her for 3 years and at her insistance also studied Alexander Technique with Rose Bronec in Chicago. She continues to be a mentor and friend to me. Eventually she pushed me out of her nest and down to Sue Calebaugh at North Texas State, where I received a master's in flute performance and then stayed to begin a DMA in flute with Mary Karen Clardy. During my 6-year stint in Texas I also started playing traverso, and was lucky enough to have David Hart for my teacher while he lived in Ft. Worth. My love of the baroque flute is mostly due to his fine teaching and musicianship, his true passion and deep knowlege of the instrument. The flute world lost a true treasure when he died.

Upon leaving Texas I landed out here in sunny (sometimes) Northern California where I have lived since 1990. Until recently I have been on the flute faculty and coordinator of the flute masterclass series at the Community School of Music and Arts, in Mountain View CA. But a new adventure has come up, as I am now the print manager at West Valley Music, also in Mountain View (south of San Francisco

and north of San Jose) and will be teaching there in a small studio as well as happily ordering all sorts of great music. This is a very flute-oriented store, having always been owned by a flutist! The new owner is Diana Tucker and she will continue the tradition. I have many students in my home studio, as well as at the store. I am also the interim conductor for the flute choir at Stanford University, which I will be conducting this fall. For the last 3 years I have been on the faculty at the Northern California Flute Camp in Carmel Valley, CA and will be there for my 4th year next week! It's always a lot of fun, the faculty and guest artists are wonderful, it's a great week for all involved.

I should mention that my computer set-up has always been supplied by my Uncle George, he loves to tinker and has made the computers he, myself and my parents use. I'm now on my fourth generation Uncle George PC and each time they get faster and better. I may live in Silicon Valley, but my tech support is as down-to earth as they come. When I'm not teaching or practicing I have a second business as a jewelry maker, called Music to My Ears. If I'm not at the flute convention, I'm probably at a bead convention! It's a lot of fun, and supports my bad bead habit. But it's also great to make adornment for musicians, there are even some List members whom I have seen wearing my jewelry at conventions.

I feel very fortunate to be living in the beautiful Bay Area and making my living as a musician. There is a strong and supportive flute community to be a part of, and many playing opportunities with some wonderful musicians. If any of you are ever in the area, please drop me a line, I'd be happy to assist with flute-related activities.

Laurie Benson


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