We’re all gearing up for another magical two week flute extravaganza at CSU Summer Arts. My course, The Complete 21st Century Flutist, returns to Summer Arts, July 2 – 15, 2018. We’re on the campus of CSU Fresno this time, which we’re especially excited about because the music department at CSUF is a terrific space, and the Fresno community embraces Summer Arts with an unparalleled enthusiasm.
What exactly is CSU Summer Arts, and what’s the big deal – what makes it more unique or special than the other zillions of summer flute classes? Glad you asked …
On July 2nd, flutists from all over will descend upon Fresno, CA, eager to meet and work with some of the top flute artists of our time. They’ll congregate with fellow bright young artists from theatre, dance, creative writing, visual art and design, music, and media and animation. Each group of students will meet their course coordinators, guest artists, and fellow classmates and just like that, the magic begins.
The Complete 21st Century Flutist at CSU Summer Arts, July 2016 Photo credit: Todd Sharp
Summer Arts tasks us with this: “create your dream course.” It’s never a challenge to dream up a cast of characters with whom I want to collaborate. This year, flutists John Barcellona, Ian Clarke, Marianne Gedigian, Stephen Kujala, Nicola Mazzanti, Carol Wincenc, and yours truly will be joined by pianists Bryan Pezzone and Wendy Caldwell. Together, we’ll offer our flute students daily workshops, master classes, recitals, round table discussions … basically two weeks of flute magic.
The Complete 21st Century Flutist 2018 Guest Artists
To share a bit of my journey with Summer Arts, here is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote a couple of years back entitled “What’s the big deal about CSU Summer Arts”
Once upon a time, back in the early 90’s, when flannel shirts were fashionable the first time around and I was a grad student at CSULB, my flute professor came to me part way through my first year and told me he wanted me to attend a summer flute course that he was coordinating. The course would be two weeks long, take place at CSU Humboldt, and the guest artists were Michel Debost and Julius Baker. I can’t recall exactly what I said in that moment, but I’m pretty sure I replied with a very enthusiastic “yes!” before he even finished his sentence. I, along with another CSULB flute student, and a CSULB alumni clarinet student who would attend a chamber music course with the Alexander String Quartet, would all be a part of this awesome summer event. Having only lived in California for just over a year, the road trip alone took my breath away. Three of us made the long 700 mile trek north, and the further we traveled the more beautiful it got. CSU Humboldt is a gorgeous campus, and spending two weeks in this funky (in a good way), green, lush, coastal town, among the giant redwood trees, where the air was clean and crisp and the stars were so bright at night you could reach out and touch them was kind of unbelievable for this Detroit girl, to say the least.
The course was intense. Our days were long, and were made longer by our late night trips to the practice rooms to reinforce what we had learned that day. We didn’t sleep much. I also had the extra responsibility of being John’s assistant, which was an honor, to be sure. None of that seemed to affect me, or anyone else for that matter because we all were fueled by our enthusiasm and the immense creativity that surrounded us. See, while we were doing all things flute, there were all of these other courses taking place, from a variety of genres; theater, dance, visual art, as well as our fellow musician pals who were a part of the chamber music course. We all ate our meals together, most notably with Mr. Baker and Mr. Debost, and listened with rapt attention to their meal time banter. One free afternoon, my professor John invited me over to the coast with the local CSU Humboldt flute professor Betsy, as well as Mr. Baker and Mr. Debost. Are you kidding? I get to hang out with the cool kids? I’ll never forget that afternoon, or the first time I got to see the magnificent Northern California coastal views up close. Then there were the afternoons that my best friend Rachel and I walked Mr. Baker back to his apartment on campus, made him tea, and watched TV with him. Mr. Baker was getting over Lyme’s disease and he appreciated the help and the company. We couldn’t get enough of his stories.
The course was amazing in every way you might imagine. Until that summer, I couldn’t recall a time that I was more inspired. I forged many new friendships with my fellow flute classmates, several of which are not only dear friends to this day but professional colleagues as well.
Two years later, John offered me the same sweet deal to return to Summer Arts. This time, his guest artists were a former teacher of mine and a former DSO colleague of my Dad’s, Ervin Monroe, and Jean-Pierre Rampal. Seriously? 100% yes. Sadly, Mr. Rampal had to cancel because he needed emergency hip surgery, but fortunately, Mr. Baker was available to return a second time. Two more weeks of inspiration and creativity at this beautiful campus once again. Unlike ’93, several of us CSULB flute students attended in ’95, and we had a ball together. To this day, when I get together with my Summer Arts friends, we reminisce about our time at CSU Humboldt. The bonds we formed are strong and have truly stood the test of time. At both the ’93 and ’95 courses, I felt fortunate to be chosen as a featured student soloist and play chamber music with other flutists who shared my love and enthusiasm for music and learning from these extraordinary musicians. The rich musical experiences and life lessons I gained those two summers at Summer Arts were invaluable, and they helped shape me into a far more creative musician and artist than I was before.
When John approached me 5 years ago and asked me to be a guest artist for another CSU Summer Arts flute course, you can probably guess my reply.
Our course was fantastic. Although I was now a guest artist, part of me felt like a student. We all learned from one another and those two weeks in July 2013 were just as inspirational and musically fulfilling as the summers I spent as a student back in the 90’s. I blogged about that incredible two week course, which you can read here. Suffice to say, I thought my life had truly come full circle… until I was asked to present a course of my own this summer.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m downright giddy over my course this summer. If I were a student, I would totally attend this course. Why? Because it’s filled with everything a flutist needs to develop, refine, and create the player they need to be to be successful in today’s music world. Oh, wait. I am attending! Yes!
Reading that except again makes me realize that not much has changed, really. I’m still over the moon about my relationship with CSU Summer Arts. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember I’m not dreaming. To be a part of this team of extraordinary people is indescribable.
Lifetime friends, thanks to Summer Arts! L to R: Carol Wincenc, Rena Urso, Ali Ryerson, and Wendy Caldwell in 2016
So what does The Complete 21st Century Flutist have in store for all of you this summer?
* In an effort to try something new, I decided to mix things up this time around from the traditional masterclasses where one person plays and 30 people sit and watch. Last summer, Nicola Mazzanti invited me to be a guest artist at his International Piccolo Festival in Grado, Italy. (Side note, if you are a piccolo player, you need to go to this class one summer. In a word, outstanding!) Anyway, what I loved about the daily schedule in Grado was that each guest artist had the opportunity to work with students one on one for an hour at a time, like a private lesson, except they were open for the other students to come in and and observe. What is especially valuable about this is that the students actually enjoyed more quality time with the guest artists instead of the customary 20 or 30 minutes in a large masterclass style. Don’t worry large masterclass lovers, we’ll still have a handful of those mixed in as well.
Carol Wincenc and Erec von Seggern
* Each guest artist will share their personal warm-up routines, including their favorite tone and technical studies. What I love about this is that we ALL learn something new. Discovering, and re-discovering new tone studies, technical exercises, and warm-up routines is like getting a pile of presents on your birthday. Wheee!
* Flutists, if you find yourself saying “I’m not really much of a piccolo player” that is absolutely going to change this July. Nicola Mazzanti will help everyone to refine their piccolo playing. Whatever level of piccolo player you are, you’re going to make big improvements under Nicola’s guidance. His book “The Mazzanti Method” alone will give you countless exercises to add to your daily practice and help you to develop greater fluidity and skill and return home a much more confident piccolo player than ever before.
Ian Clarke, on top of the world in Carmel, CA!
* Ian Clarke already has a pre-class homework assignment for everyone to help you tap into your creativity with composition. Want to know what he has planned for you? Guess you need to apply to the course to find out! Ian will also present workshops on extended techniques, large flute ensembles of his works, and a really wonderful workshop on sound exploration. Of course, I don’t need to point out how incredibly inspiring it will be performing works by Ian for Ian in masterclass.
*Stephen Kujala has many exciting plans for you, too. Among them are workshops on improvisation, a “mock recording session” with actual film and TV cues he’s played, an introduction to ethnic flutes, and his “Fretless-Flute” technique.
* Carol Wincenc will share her experiences of working with Marcel Moyse though his myriad of tone studies. She’ll also workshop the Mozart Concerti arranged for two flutes, in large group form. If you’ve never had the experience of playing for Ms. Wincenc in a masterclass, you’re in for a treat. Her dynamic enthusiasm and love for music is contagious!
* John Barcellona, “The Flute Doctor” will teach you how to teach yourselves and your students with his workshops on flute pedagogy, as well as as masterclasses on Baroque style – both on Traverso and modern flute.
John Barcellona, Ian Clarke, and Robert Dick, bringing down the house in 2016
* Having a strong wellness component is more vital than ever these days. I will present the full Body Mapping course “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body.” This will give you the essential tools to discover balance, more fluidity in your technique, greater freedom in breathing, and an overall ease in all that you do, with or without the flute.
*Marianne Gedigian will present workshops and masterclasses on our traditional flute repertoire as well orchestral excerpts. It’s exciting to have Marianne join us this year, not only because she’s amazing, but we share the distinction of both being from Detroit and both being students of the great Clement Barone. She and I love to share Clem’s pearls of wisdom in our teaching!
We’ll have round table discussions to chat about the various careers in music and ideas for how to create or improve yours, tips on how to prepare a professional orchestral audition, and of course chamber music coached by all of the guest artists.
Most nights we’ll attend public events presented by the extraordinary guest artists. These events vary nightly in genre and include art exhibits, speakers, dance performances, theater, and of course musical performances. All are open to the public and free to Summer Arts students.
Sounds too good to be true, right? And you might still be wondering what makes Summer
No better way to start the day than with an early morning walk
Arts so unique? I’ve heard people say “Wow, this sounds like a great class, I can’t go this year. I’ll come next time.”
Here’s the thing; there won’t be a next time. This course is truly a moment in time. This collection of guest artists, with these students, all together in this place, with the other unique courses taking place at this same time, is not something we can ever duplicate. Yes, we’ll have another flute class again, but it will be different artists with different students and different courses taking place simultaneously. With all that is available to you, and all the information and opportunities you have access to via the internet as well as other summer flute courses all over the globe, how do you know this one is for you? How do you know this is what you need to do with your summer?
Remember early 90’s Rena, the one who could barely wait to let her professor finish his sentence before jumping up and down saying “YES! I want to go to this class!”?
I just knew. Some little voice inside me or feeling in my gut told me that course had my name written all over it. And it did.
It literally changed my life. And I can tell you as a guest artist five years ago and now a second time course coordinator, it continues to change my life.
The ultimate Summer Arts collaboration: me and the love of my life, John Mayer, long time Summer Arts course coordinator. Chicago Style Comedy
We all feed off of this inspiration from each other. It makes all of us better.
Awhile back, I read an interesting article in Psychology Today entitled “You Need to Practice Being Your Future Self.” In it, the author mentioned several things that resonated with me, among them, and perhaps the most applicable to this are:
“If you want to be productive, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Who do I want to be? Another question is: Where do I want to go?”
“… if you want to be a writer, you have to spend time writing.”
“…you need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediately apparent return to your efforts.”
Spending two weeks, immersed in your art, surrounded by other artists and feeding off of their brilliant creativity – not only flutists, but visual artists, dancers, actors, writers – you will learn and understand more about yourself and your craft than you’ve ever imagined possible. The quiet creative space to sit and take it all in, absorb it, process it, and then decide your next step. You quickly learn that the same hurdles and creative struggles you face are not unique to you or music. We all share them as artists. And so, we collaborate. We create. We experiment. We open ourselves up to learning something brand new, and we grow. How many times in your life do you imagine that you’ll be able to hit the pause button and escape to a place where you can focus exclusively on your music? As we become more immersed in our careers, I can tell you, it is less convenient. Life gets in the way and we have more obstacles and challenges that prevent us from hitting that pause button. And, living in the time we live in, there are many distractions which can cloud our decision making to choose what we’ll benefit from the most. CSU Summer Arts is that thing that you’ll benefit the most from, guys. I say this not only as a course coordinator but as an alum. You and your craft deserve this. Give yourself this gift of inspiration and see what infinite possibilities lie ahead for you.