Thank you for all the wonderful questions you have submitted to me through this website. Since there has been such a great response, I decided to respond to three separate questions this month.
QUESTION 1: I am in the process of preparing my audition repertoire for my graduate school auditions in Spring 2011. Most top level conservatories have categories that your selected pieces must conform to in order to audition (Bach Sonatas, Mozart Concerti, 20th Century Concerto, Excerpts etc). Do you have any advice on selecting repertoire (and risks involved by choosing inappropriate music)? Any words of advice on preparation of the literature?
ANSWER:This is a question that really deserves a good long answer. I could write a book chapter on your question! In this limited format, let me simply tell you a few things that are important to think about.
I believe that YOU, the student, must select a piece that you LOVE to play. As you imagine the audition in the future, you should have a feeling of pleasant anticipation when you think about performing your selected pieces.
For example, some flutists enjoy the high-energy beginning of Jolivet’s “Chant de Linos.” Other flutists prefer the relatively gentle opening of Martin’s “Ballade.” It is a personal choice, and an important one to consider.
The one thing that you want to avoid—don’t select a contemporary piece unfamiliar to the jury. It will be a waste of their time as they won’t have any musical reference point and they will not be able to determine the strength of your fundamental flutistic abilities. These new pieces are great in a recital performance but they don’t belong on an audition.
For an audition, you want to embrace the music that all flute players know fairly well. We teachers are very empathetic and involved listeners. I always enjoy hearing young players put their own individual stamp on a piece that I have heard and played many times!
Best wishes for an enjoyable adventure, ahead!
QUESTION 2: I am an amateur flutist from Northern Michigan, and I just wanted to tell you that you are such an inspiration to me as a musician. I absolutely love your sound; you have such a purity and a glow to it that it makes me just want to pick up my flute and start playing it. I especially love your recording of Otar Taktakisvili’s “Sonata for flute and piano.” Hearing you play that piece is what made me decide to play it for a recital that I am giving this spring. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your God-given gift with the world, and to let you know that I am inspired by you to play with a greater excellence. Thank you so much for all of your hard work.
What a lovely message for me to read! I can’t think of any words that could mean more to me.
I remember when I was just a teenager, I had exactly the same feelings (still do!) whenever I heard a recording of Julius Baker or Jascha Heifetz. I would literally run to my flute and try to capture the magic they had in their playing!
For me, this kind of inspiration is the greatest teacher. As I am writing to you, I am listening to Heifetz play “Alt Wien” of Godowsky—I am still taking lessons from Heifetz!
All best wishes from a fellow flutist and best wishes for your recital this spring!
QUESTION 3: What is your most memorable experience with Mr. Baker?
Thank you for this question. I think of Julie many times each day and I have wonderful recollections that go on forever.
Julius Baker had a very vivid and large personality. He was a man of tremendous curiosity and he had an insatiable desire to learn that never left him for his entire life.
One thing about him that I think people would find interesting is that he had a fascination with musicians who displayed great talent. Musicians of any instrument, style, and age! If there was a spark of something special in a player, his eyes would light up with delight and then, almost immediately, I would see him trying to analyze what made the player so appealing. He was a great listener (as all great artists are), and he was always incredibly attracted to talent and beauty in other players.
I believe the personal quality that finds inspiration in the great playing of others is one of the most important elements in becoming and remaining a true artist!
© Jeanne Baxtresser 2010