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Summer in the City

Unlike the past two years, I have decided to focus on teaching and gigging this summer, rather than make myself crazy by preparing for competitions. It has so far been a mix of very busy weeks of intense rehearsal schedules and very un-busy weeks of not much to do (and I’m not complaining about either one!).

Since my last post, I’ve travelled to Akron, Ohio and Commerce, Texas for masterclasses; almost went to Seattle twice but was thwarted each time (better luck in the fall, I hope!); performed in Opera Parallele’s premiere of Anya 17, a moving opera about sex trafficking; recorded an album for hip-hop/classical fusion group Ensemble Mik Nawooj; and have scheduled oodles of rehearsals and concerts for the next season.

One concert in particular for which I am excited is my November 14 faculty recital at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. My truly outstanding pianist and friend Zuzanna Szewczyk-Kwon will be joining me for no less than three premieres and my other wonderfully talented guitarist and friend Mark Simons will be joining me for a short set of jazz tunes (!!). One of the new pieces is by the West Coast composer Robert Pierzak, also an alum of the venerable Eastman School of Music, and features my woodwind chamber group Frequency 49 with Zuzanna. I will also be performing Kaija Saariaho’s beautiful Noa Noa for flute and electronics. This is unlike any concert I’ve done before and is not to be missed!

More immediate is my teaching stint with SFCM’s Summer Music West program, imparting my vast wisdom of theory and musicianship, as well as chamber music. Each year, these kids blow me away with their fresh faces and fresh ideas. I cannot wait!


Some exciting news from the past week: I have been selected as a runner-up to the Principal Flute position with the Auckland Philharmonia! I sent in my DVD and was thrilled to find out last week about the results! Should the winner decline the position, then I am next in line for the job. Even if I am not offered the position, it’s a great feeling to know that my musicianship reached across thousands of miles and through digital formats! Will keep you posted!

A New Year!

In typical Carmen form, I have waited quite a few months to give an update on what’s going on flute-wise in my world. What can I say? It’s not because I’ve been lazy. Fortunately, I have been performing like a madwoman and I love it!

Perhaps you remember that back in May 2013, I won the Third/Utility Flute audition with the Santa Rosa Symphony. Having played quite a few concerts and gotten a feel for the group, I can safely say that this is a great ensemble with terrific players. The flute section (Kathleen Reynolds and Stacey Pelinka) are truly top-notch and the other wind sections kick some serious butt, too. An especially wonderful part of the job is performing in the beautiful Green Music Center at Weill Hall. If you have not been there, I highly recommend that you go. It is among the best halls I’ve ever played in.

Things down in Santa Cruz have certainly gained momentum with the arrival of our brand new conductor, Daniel Stewart. I was on the committee that hired him and I now breathe a great sigh of relief because he is FANTASTIC! He is also an assistant conductor to James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, so you can imagine what good hands we’re in! I really can’t say enough good things about Maestro Stewart: he is extremely musical, capable, knowledgeable, friendly and, perhaps most importantly, respectful of everyone involved in the process of producing a performance. The level of the orchestra has risen significantly this season.

My woodwind group Frequency 49 played a concert in January, a program that we wanted to title “Frenchiness,” but decided against that and instead went with “À la française.” A little bit classier. It featured some killer woodwind quintet and sextet repertoire ranging from lite fare from Roussel all the way to Lalo Schifrin’s “La Nouvelle Orleans.” More concerts coming soon!

On the complete flip side of my musical life is Ensemble Mik Nawooj, a hip-hop/classical fusion ensemble consisting of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, bass, drums, piano, classical vocalist, and two rappers! Joowan Kim leads the group and composes all the music. Not only do I love the people and the music, but I also love how different it is from anything I’ve ever done. I could definitely get used to being a “rock star.” Check out the group/music/calendar at Ensemble Mik Nawooj.

In the teaching arena, I discovered how much I love coaching chamber music. I’m so honored and grateful for this position at SFCM because I’ve learned just as much from the students as they’ve learned from me. We have a ton of FUN!

I continue to teach super great kids in Hayward and Union City. Lots of progress being made all around! I’m very proud! Studio recital coming up at the end of May/early June.

Alright, folks. That’s it for now. New audio files from Frequency 49 and some solo flute repertoire coming soon, so check back! Thanks!

Less than a week to go…

…before I leave for Budapest. It’s almost here! All the hard work, brainpower, blood, sweat, tears will hopefully pay off. My preview recital is tomorrow night: August 29 at 8 pm at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Stop by! I feel pretty good about everything, though I won’t be doing the CPE Bach from memory quite yet; still rough around the edges for that. I am looking forward to sharing this great and eclectic program that has definitely pushed my playing into a new level. I suppose that’s the main reason we do competitions- to get better. It has also revealed areas which need improvement and that is always a good thing: new challenges! Regardless of what happens, I am so glad to be in tip-top playing shape. Let’s see how long it lasts!

Going Home

I have lived in San Francisco for ten years now and consider myself a fully-fledged San Franciscan. I deeply love everything this unique city has to offer, even Muni. However, it’s definitely not Norman, Oklahoma, where I grew up. I have so many great memories that every time I visit Norman, I sort of long to relive those experiences: having a car (ha!), just hanging out with friends at the local coffee shop on really hot summer nights (something we most certainly do not have in SF), sometimes getting into trouble.

I’ve been intensely focussed on the upcoming competition in Budapest and figured, since I’ll be in New Orleans next week for the NFA Convention, I may as well just swing by Oklahoma and do a recital of some of the competition repertoire for the town that meaningfully contributed to my musical upbringing. So, if you happen to be in the vicinity on August 15 at 7:30 pm, you are invited to my “Competitions are for Horses – 2013 Fundraiser Edition” recital in Norman, Oklahoma! I’m asking for a bit of money to help me cover the costs associated with travelling to Budapest -there is a suggested donation of $10- but no one will be turned away due to a lack of funds. For more details, go to my calendar! See you there!

If you live in San Francisco and would love to hear this exciting program, don’t worry! I will be performing it on August 29 at the SF Conservatory of Music. More details to come!

Summer and Fall Excitement across the globe!

It’s official! Starting in September, I will be teaching Woodwind Chamber Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music! I am honored to be on faculty at my alma mater- I have such great memories of being a student there. I can’t wait to contribute to students’ excellent education at SFCM.

In other news, back in June I was invited to compete in the Budapest International Flute Competition in Hungary in September. I’ve been preparing like a madwoman, learning new pieces and memorizing them (I think the hardest part!). I’ll be in Oklahoma in mid-August, doing a fundraising concert in Norman to help raise monies to help with the costs of the plane ticket. If you’re in the area, stop by and have a listen! If you’re in San Francisco, don’t worry! I have a concert planned on August 29 at SFCM for a final preview of the work I’ve done for the competition. Come and say hi!

Otherwise, Summer Music West is in full swing at SFCM, where you can find me most days. Josh Groban is next week in Santa Rosa and then, who knows!

Santa Rosa Symphony!

As of yesterday, I am the new Third Flutist with the Santa Rosa Symphony! I am so looking forward to making great music with great musicians! If you haven’t checked out their brand new hall, Weill Hall, you definitely should. It’s absolutely stunning. Check their website for the upcoming season’s exciting offerings: SRS. See you there!

NFA in the Big Easy!

I’m happy to announce that I will be presenting my lecture recital, “Strange Bedfellows: Expressionism, Folk and Dada in Erwin Schulhoff’s Concertino” at this year’s National Flute Association Convention in New Orleans! My family’s roots are in Louisiana and I can’t wait to get back to share my music and take advantage of the amazing cuisine and hospitality Louisiana always has to offer. Check out www.nfaonline.org for more information about the Convention. See you there!

The New Year!

I have exciting news on many fronts this year!

First, I’m happy to announce that I am the new Flute Instructor at Skyline College in San Bruno. It’s off to a fantastic start – expect to hear more information about future events, including a recital in mid-May!

Second, Nine Muses was a great success! We had a fun time rehearsing over eight weeks and performing on December 20. The flute choir sounded outstanding, as well as the smaller groups featuring Ulises Viveros and Matthew Lapid, Brandon Lee and Ruby Ramirez, and Raymond Magpantay. Thank you to everyone who contributed time, food and energy to make it happen! To see pictures, go to Nine Muses.

Third, there’s a special project in the beginning stages, involving more flute music from the exciting and always surprising 20th-century Czech-Jewish composer Erwin Schulhoff. You will definitely hear more about that when some details are finalized! Stay tuned!

Until next time, happy fluting!

Nine Muses Honor Flute Choir

I’m so pleased to announce my latest project: the Nine Muses Honor Flute Choir!

Open to any high school student in the SF Bay Area, Nine Muses aims to provide an outlet for skilled flutists to explore advanced topics in flute playing outside their school band or orchestra. Bonus: as opposed to private lessons, it’s with other flutists who also love playing flute! Students will audition on September 23 and begin rehearsals on October 2nd at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco. All work culminates in a Finale Concert on November 9, at which every participant receives a cool custom Nine Muses t-shirt!

If you wish to donate toward the Nine Muses project, please go to the Useful Music Productions page to make a credit card donation or find information on how to send a check. Donations will be used toward venue rental fees (the biggest expense of all), sheet music costs, and contractor fees. Every little bit helps and I thank you with all my heart!

For more information on auditioning for Nine Muses, please visit the Nine Muses page! I hope to see you on September 23!