My adventures with playing a musical instrument began when I was about 6 years old. My Dad, Santo Urso, who was one of the former Assistant Concertmasters of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, gave me my first instrument; a violin. My Dad was my hero, I wanted to be just like him and as fun as it was to have a violin of my own, it was a little less fun having to practice it in order to sound better. Needless to say, the violin and I ended up not being such a great match. When I came home from school in the 6th grade announcing that I was going to play the flute, my Mom and Dad were quick to remind me that I already played the violin. They had to be kidding. It was no secret that I wasn’t exactly excelling at the violin. But the flute…. now this was my instrument, and more importantly, it was something my Dad didn’t play which meant I was in the clear when it came to lessons at home. I overheard them talking later that night, saying something to the effect of “this won’t last, it’ll be like the violin … or ballet, or tap dancing, or …” I listened from the other room thinking “Oh yeah? I’ll show them!” The rest, as they say, is history. Years later, I’m still fascinated by the shiny, gold tube and the how it can create some of the most beautiful melodies ever written.
Since 1995 it has been a great pleasure being part of the outstanding faculty at The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. In 2018, I joined the Fine Arts Faculty at California State University, Stanislaus. I am also the Second Flutist of the Oakland Symphony and the Oregon Coast Music Festival Orchestra. Previously, I was the Second Flutist/Piccoloist of the San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater for 19 years, and the New York City Opera’s National Company for 2 years, both taking me on several US tours. So many wonderful memories from those years on the road!
My life as a performing artist is fluid, diverse, and incredibly fulfilling – I love the variety of ways I make my living. I split my time between my home in Highland Park, IL and traveling for the work I do as a performer and teacher; performing all over California – mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as Los Angeles, as well as teaching in the CSU. The Pacific, California, Marin, Santa Rosa, Monterey, Berkeley, and Modesto Symphonies are among some of the fine orchestras I frequently work with, in addition to recording work for video games, television, and film. I have also played with the San Francisco Opera, Bolshoi Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Mark Morris Dance Group, Seattle Symphony, Hawaii (formerly Honolulu) Symphony, and the Detroit Symphony, as well as for the National Tours for Broadway shows such as Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.
Summers are spent teaching around the US and abroad, and playing in festival orchestras: Oregon Coast Music Festival, as well as occasional work with Festival Mozaic and the Carmel Bach Festival. Other summer highlights include teaching, performing, and presenting courses for California State University Summer Arts, Andover Educators Biennial Conferences, the National Flute Association’s annual convention, and the International Piccolo Festival.
I’m proud to be a product of the State University system in both Michigan and California, having earned my B.M. in Flute Performance from Wayne State University and my M.M. in Flute Performance from California State University, Long Beach with honors. The list of remarkable musicians who I have had the great fortune to study with over the years and who continue to inspire me include: Robert Patrick (Former Assistant Principal Flutist, D.S.O.), Clement Barone (Former Solo Piccolo, D.S.O.), John Barcellona (Professor of Flute, CSULB), Anne Zentner (Former Principal Flutist, LA Philharmonic), Ervin Monroe (Former Principal Flutist, D.S.O.), Julie MacKenzie (Principal Flutist, SF Opera, Piccolo, SF Ballet), Liisa Ruoho (Professor of Flute, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland) and my father, Santo Urso (Former Assistant Concertmaster, D.S.O.).
In addition to my university teaching and orchestral playing, I wear many other hats, such as teaching students literally all across the globe via Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime – flute, piccolo and Body Mapping. I am a Licensed Body Mapping Educator and Training Mentor for the Association of Body Mapping Educators and travel all over the world throughout the year presenting master classes, workshops, private lessons, and recitals. A short list of the conservatories and universities I’ve presented classes and workshops for include; Manhattan School of Music, Rutgers, SUNY Stony Brook, Rice University, University of Texas Austin, University of Wisconsin Madison, my alma mater Wayne State University, and many of CSU’s including San Diego State University, Fresno State, Chico State, and my own university, CSU, Long Beach, University of Southern California, and Juilliard.
I am also a Certified RYT-200 Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Instructor and Certified Meditation Instructor. This pairs beautifully with the work I do as a Body Mapping Educator, giving my students a variety of useful movements to explore, deepen their breath work practice, and help to quiet the inner critic so many of us performing artists deal with.
Chamber music feeds my soul and I feel grateful for the collaborative process with my friends with whom I play in various chamber ensembles including my flute and piano trio, Alcyone Ensemble, among others.
Having played Muramatsu flutes my entire professional career! I play a 9k heavy wall Muramatsu, a Yamaha alto, and a vintage Powell piccolo with custom head joints made by the brilliant Eldred Spell. For Baroque period works, I play a Peter Noy boxwood head joint on my beautiful silver Muramatsu flute.
Away from the piccolo and flute, I have no trouble filling my time with other things I love to do: practicing yoga, baking and cooking, and traveling with my husband John.
Click below to view my CV and BIO.