I’ve been playing the flute for 16 years. Other interests have come and gone, but that one stuck. Throwing the “Oh, I’m a flutist” bit into a conversation is also always a good idea: it never fails to make me seem an interesting drinking companion, and potential landlords are positively ebullient at the idea of me repetitively playing orchestral excerpts in their buildings.
As often as not, the first response I get is, “Oh, can you play like Jethro Tull?” Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull’s infamous flutist, made the flute cool. I mean, flute totally was the instrument all the pretty, popular girls played, but I was definitely not one of the popular girls, and my dad had no interest in listening to Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (which begins with the most-requested orchestral excerpt at flute auditions). But what my dad did listen to was his immense collection of classic rock albums, and Jethro Tull was our meeting ground.
At the end of the day, Ian Anderson is something original, something that cannot be replicated. I cannot play flute like Jethro Tull, only Ian Anderson can, so you really gotta see it. As an interesting side-note, let me just add that the night before Ian Anderson’s performance, the CSO performed Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. On the same concert, it also tackled two other standard flute audition pieces: the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (a no-breaths-allowed, double-tongued extravaganza) and the Overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie (a piccolo boot-camp exercise). Ravinia is reaching a fluty peak; check it out!
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