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By Don Bailey
for the New York Flute Club Newsletter February 1999
Carol and I met in the faculty lounge at the
Juilliard School, where she teaches. She was relaxed and composed, but I
was distracted from having left my notes at home on my printer. (Yes, I do prepare for these talks.) It didnít matter,
though. Carol is a wonderful conversationalist and we had a great time. Her
career is so multifaceted we found all sorts of interesting things to talk
about. Youíll see!
You had an incredible
environment as a child; your mother was a pianist and your father a professor of
music and orchestra conductor. What was it like?
You know, itís so interesting trying to
recall all of that because my husband and I are going through it now. The script
is basically continuing here with my sonís starting piano at age 5. I started
violin at age 4. Those first impressions with the violin are indelible - working
with the bow as my dad accompanied me. He was a natural teacher - very
charismatic. Heís the same age as Julie Baker, and theyíre very similar in
Youíre the youngest
of three children? Any other musicians in the family?
Yes, there were three of us. My sisters didnít
go into music professionally, although one is a programmer for young audiences
in Boston. She works with Jill Ma, YoYoís wife, and they do wonderful things
for children. My oldest sister is a child psychologist/therapist, sings in a
chorus, and listens to music all the time. While theyíre both involved in
music, they chose other professions.
Did you have a normal
suburban school environment?
I did. I picked the flute at 9 because I
wanted to play in the band. We began with group instruction and soon after, my
parents arranged private lessons. I remember bursting into tears the day I had
to tell my band director I was going to study privately. I felt I was betraying
the group but they were all thrilled for me!
Was this a
Oh yes, I studied in Buffalo with Edna
Karmachero, who was a pupil of Moyse. She started me with Moyseís de la
Sonoritť right away. Other Buffalo teachers were Robert Moles and Anton Wolf.
Then, for my high school senior year I lived in Italy where I studied with
Gazzeloni before returning to start college at Oberlin. I found my outlets in
the drama departments as well as in music. I was also a serious actress, and I
studied ballet and had master classes with Maria Tallchief, Jacques Dambois, and
Melissa Hayden - dance world giants. (Laughs) I was a spirited child, thatís
for sure; and I have one myself now.
Gazzeloni is known
for contemporary music; you must have felt his influence.
Yes, there I was living on my own - fully
immersed in the world of new music. I was only seventeen and already playing in
contemporary ensembles. It was a great experience, and I couldnít wait to
return to the states and go immediately to Juilliard.
But you detoured by
way of OhioÖ
Yes, my parents wanted me to have a normal
campus life, and since they both graduated from Oberlin, the decision was made.
It was an adjustment, but I stayed for two years and then came to New York. I
had fabulous training at Oberlin. I studied with Robert Willoughby who was
wonderful. My Dalcroze eurythmics teacher was Inda Howland, who was a giant, and
I sang in Bob Fountainís Oberlin College choir, which performed and toured
Who were your
teachers at Juilliard?
I studied flute with Arthur Lora (of the
Italian tradition that I was used to) and Sam Baron was my woodwind quintet
What was the
Juilliard experience for you?
It was great. As you know, there were so many
good flutists there at that time. Letís see, my classmates were Nadine Asin,
Michael Parloff, Trudy Kane, Renťe Siebert, Ransom Wilson, Rebecca Troxler, and
Christine Neal. I thrived at Juilliard and was finally where the action was. I
felt very much "at home".
Werenít all of
you at each otherís throats?
Well, it was definitely competitive! Everybody
was off doing his or her own things. Nadine and I bonded right away and would
take our solace by going off to play duets. Itís so different with the
students now. I think itís more like a little family.
Was the course of
study geared towards taking auditions?
Absolutely! It was all geared towards an
orchestral career - no question about it. In our own prayers, of course, we all
wanted to be like Jean-Pierre Rampal!
Did you do much
freelancing before going to St. Paul?
Yes, I did things with John Nelson and PDQ
awfully nice freelance gigs. Did you ever play in the shoe department of
No! But what a great idea! I never played in
the subway either, although some of my students have. About the time I was
finishing my Masterís and before I left for Minnesota, I played in an opera
orchestra with Ransom Wilson in New Jersey, and with the National Orchestral
Institute with Leon Barzin. All of our concerts were at Carnegie Hall. David
Shifrin was playing clarinet; Trudy Kane and I played flute. I also played in a
woodwind quintet that got performances through the school.
It must have been
difficult to leave New York for the St. Paul job.
Yes, it was a tough decision. So many people
were telling me that I shouldnít be leaving NY because I was getting such a
good toehold here. But, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra was my first seriously
offered job - with a contract and benefits. I would be on my own, independent,
learn how to drive, have my own carÖ And thank goodness I went, because it was
the catalyst for my wanting to become a soloist.
How is that? Did you
leave to be a soloist?
Well, the actual reason I left was to do the
Naumburg competition. The orchestra started to tour in the last two seasons, and
I just felt I wasnít working hard enough with all the repetition of the
programs. So, I took a leave of absence and did the competition.
What did winning the
Naumburg do for your career?
It was instant credibility back in those days.
I was heavily under Moyseís influence at the time, and the recording that came
about is still one of my favorites. Theyíve not had another flute competition
Have you had any
other orchestral jobs?
Through those summers in St. Paul, I also
played the Grand Teton Festival for four seasons - big orchestra repertoire.
Then when I came back to NY, I played with Orpheus and St. Lukeís Chamber
Ensemble until I started getting engagements as a soloist through my manager,
Charles Hamlen. I didnít play again in an orchestra until I played in the
Boston Symphony one summer for two weeks when they were looking for a principal
flute. It was like getting back on a bicycle.
Was the Boston job of
interest to you?
You know, it was. I flirted with it; my son
was little and my family lives in Boston. But it just wasnít meant to be. I
need diversification; I thrive on different kinds of projects and venues. Not
that you canít have that in a symphony orchestra, because you can, but for me,
maybe itís too much music all the time. Now I teach, I have chamber music, I
play concertos and travel.
numerous new pieces for the flute repertoire. How did you meet Lukas Foss?
Lukas Foss was a mentor to me as I was growing
up in Buffalo. He was the Music Director. One day while I was still a student at
Juilliard, he called me out of the blue and asked if I would collaborate with
him at a concert at Kennedy Center. I nearly fainted. Imagine!. Heís a
masterful artist. He wrote his "Renaissance Concerto" for me in 1985.
Iíve performed it over fifty times now and still love it.
You have quite a
roster of composers youíve worked with. I read somewhere that for you itís
just a matter of asking.
Well, I had established friendships with
several composers. Joan Tower and I are real buddies, Paul Shoenfield and I
spent summers together at Chatauqua, Lukas and I had the Buffalo connection.
Gorecki was introduced to me, and I went to his home in Poland, and Iím from a
Slovak family, so it was like two peas in a pod. He loves folk music, and I
adore it. I met Rochberg through the Naumburg, and Ezra Laderman and I have the
same birthday! I knew Peter Schickele from all those years doing PDQ Bach. Heís
the one who said, "People wondered, how did she get me to write a piece for
her? Well, she just asked."
Do you think flute
playing has changed since you were a student at Juilliard?
Hmmm, interesting question. Well, Julieís
still here. I mean, the Baker tradition is like a bloodline - the royal
bloodline. Hearing him play was an amazing thing. Then there was the French
tradition, through Rampal and Moyse which I identified with also. To answer your
question, I would say that today you will hear lots of diversity among the
students. You might not be able to tell whoís studied with whom, whereas back
in the old days you could probably guess.
What about national
styles in flute playing?
I donít think there are national styles so
much anymore. Galway had such an influence for years and everyone wanted to
imitate him. I donít think you can tell by someoneís playing what country
theyíre from. People are becoming more themselves as far as styles go.
your varied past in the arts, you must sound like a real
AND, it depends on whom Iím playing with. My
sun sign is cancer, the moonchild, so we adaptÖ. For example, when Nadine and
I play together on the concert coming up, weíll have to mix and match that
way. But itís true, many people say they can pick out my sound. I think itís
the amalgam of all the experiences I had in music and dance and theatre and
singingÖ.. I still think, though, that it goes back to my dad and the violin;
I still try to imitate the sound of the fiddle. The choice of
vibrato/non-vibrato - I see it now, because they have open stringsÖ.I tried to
Where do you teach
I teach here at Juilliard and at Stony Brook.
Iíve taught at Indiana University, and I taught at Rice University in Houston
for eleven years altogether. I was offered the Rice job full-time, but there was
such a pull to come back to New York. Thereís a way of life here. Itís a
What are your
students expected to accomplish by the time they graduate?
Itís so selective here that I have to
formulate things on an individual basis. Iím a confrontational teacher and
might not be the ideal for some students - Iíll get them on the floor or
dancing a gigue if theyíre having physical problems. Of course, I donít
force anyone, but I do place a big premium on whatís happening physiologically
with a player. Etude-wise, we try to get the Andersen etudes in, but these kids
are so busy very professionally minded. They have rehearsals for productions and
chamber music obligations, so I find that I cover a lot of repertoire with them.
Of course, we do scales and warm-ups together. Iím a firm believer that
everyone has to do the Taffanel Exercise No. 4 in every imaginable way by the
time they leave. Everybodyís style is different. Some students want to give a
recital right away to stay motivated, others donít - they may prefer to take
their time and branch out. And most of the students who come here are
competitors, so theyíre always getting ready for some kind of competition.
Their lessons reflect their needs at the time.
Itís also my hope that the students who
leave Juilliard will be good teachers as well as flute players. I think their
becoming educators is critical. Very often in master classes, or in my chamber
music classes, Iíll have the students get up and teach each other to get them
thinking more that way.
Yes, I adore orchestral excerpts. The students
are required to study them, and they have routine auditions twice a year behind
teaching load like?
At the moment I have 12 individual students,
and I have two chamber music courses - The NY Woodwind Quintet Seminar and my
own chamber music class, which is for winds, harp, and guitar. I also take part
in a freshman course called Colloquium, which is a study of all the disciplines,
dance, drama, and music. This class gives them a feel for what everybodyís
doing all day long here at Juilliard.
Are you still
involved with the International Flute Festival that you started?
Not at the moment. I would love to resurrect
the festival, but Iím glad the NFA took the ball and ran with it. Thereís a
lot of ethnic music at the conventions now, which is as it should be, because itís
the common thread among us all. Carlos Nakai and I will be collaborating this
summer at the Santa Fe Festival. Carlos attended my International festival when
he was just emerging. Now, heís world famous.
Whatís your view of
the state of the arts?
Each year we hear 100 flute players here at
Juilliard for three or four openings, which is a shame because there will be at
least 25 who are totally eligible. It just breaks our hearts that we canít
accommodate them. These days musicians have to be creative. There are many
wonderful careers out there in music. Look at all the flute choirs and ensembles
like the Three Flute Moms with Laura Gilbert, Linda Chesis, and myself. These
ideas of enjoying music make a real statement.
What kind of flute do
I have a silver Brannen body and a Powell
platinum head that Lillian Burkhart cut while she and Jim were still at the
company. Iíve played silver all my life except for a period when I played Tom
Nyfengerís 9K Brannen. I recorded the Mozart Quartets with the Emerson Quartet
on the gold flute.
Can you hear a
difference on your recordings between the silver and gold flutes?
(Very long pause)Ö..Isnít that
interesting? Iíll have to go back and listen. However, itís very individual.
Many of my students play gold and sound great! For me, though, playing as a
soloist with orchestras, I could never get that "zing" that I love so
much with the silver flute. I donít think the flute has to sound pretty all
the time. I mean, it may need to sound gritty, ugly or grotesque, as well as
scintillating and beautiful. My platinum headjoint is great. I enjoy getting
lots of colors in the sound.
Whatís a typical
warm-up for you?
I start with Taffanel & Gaubertís No. 5,
the chromatic scale. I have this whole system of breathing through my nose; itís
like a walking meditation. I start the scale and walk around the room slowly. I
play non-vibrato, breathing through my nose, taking as much time as I want. This
is something I got from Alexander Murray, and it changed me forever because it
slows me down and gets me focused. Then I do my T&G No. 4 - all legato, then
all staccato, then changing the articulations. After that, I take out the Boehm
octave exercise, and then, if thereís time, Iíll do the de la Sonoritť. Itís
interesting - I donít do the Moyse first. I like to slowly get my fingers
going and the air and the movement of the air. Then, if Iím really luxuriating
and I have the time, Iíll do some orchestra excerpts like A Midsummer Nightís
Dream or the St. Saens Voliere. You see, I feel my big weakness is fast-moving
things so Iím always on the lookout for that. Others may not perceive my
technique as weaker, but we all have our "zones." I think there is
real merit to playing those tricky orchestral passages.
Speaking of the
Voliere, do you use the real fingerings?
No, I use the D-E trill fingering at the
What are your views
about auxiliary fingers in general?
Oh, use them constantly! I hate being out of
tune, so Iíll try everything possible to get it right, and I wonít let my
students get lazy about pitch. Also, I might use harmonics in fast passages -
like in the Joan Tower Concerto. What matters is the finished product. Be
creative if you need to, but donít cheat in order to avoid a correct
Letís talk about
your concert with Nadine on the 28th..
First of all, this is a reunion of sorts with
Nadine. We were close at Juilliard but were out of touch when I went away to
Minnesota. Weíve always enjoyed playing together, and we wanted to plan a
concert with some interesting colors and effects. As far as repertoire is
concerned, it was a mutual decision to do the Debussy Chanson de Bilitis. Iíve
coached it and I love it, but Iíve never played it. And weíve chosen some
flute favorites with harp - the Berlioz was a must. Thereís a variety among
the Rigoletto , the Bach G major, the Hindemith, and Takemitsu. And weíll each
do something solo. We hope that the duo performance concept will encourage other
flutists to program non-solo events. In fact, I think two flutes sound better
than one in many ways.
How would you define
I donít really think of myself as a flute
player, although my name, Carol, comes from Old French, which is Carole (to
sing) and aulos, which in Greek means the reed flute. Together it means a song
of joy. I picked the flute because it was lightweight, had a feminine quality
and was portable! Actually, I could have gone in any number of directions - Iím
sort of an airborne dreamer... And because I love all forms of art from painting
to movement and sound. I picked the flute to convey the images from all these
mediums. Iím a channeler, so to speak!