Hi Flute Lovers,
Welcome to my new wordpress blog & website!
Pursuing my devotional practice as a French flute player around the world- connecting the notion of the flute as a special “voice of humanity”. Performing in Calcutta tonight for #ExperimenterCuratorsHub 2017. Heres a recent interview I did with the Guardian Mumbai
Q. You are known for one-woman classical-cabaret-style performances. What attracted you to do this particular style?
Only some of my performances are described as ‘one woman classical cabaret’. In my world all types of fine music belong together. I really enjoy performing classical music not just in a concert hall but also in a cabaret environment. There is an accessability to the audience in this type of venue. Generally I have no barriers between musical styles, and my performances flow effortlessly from classical piece to world music or cabaret, with linking dialogue that introduces and connects the audience to the musical content. My commitment is to communicate the music and its spirit.
When I pick up my flute and play, I am totally devoted to the sound and the effect it has on my audience.
So whether I’m playing Gershwin, or Bach, or a improvised jazz piece, my intellectual and emotional intentions are the same. Some people think that classical music has no humour-but this is not true. I have a “showbiz flair” in my personality, nothing thrills me more than being in front of an audience. I like to move my audiences to tears (tears of joy of course!) and sometimes even to make them laugh. I like to ‘cross the barrier’ between performer and audience, so that we’re on the same musical journey together. I believe my audiences come away from my performances with a sense of connection, and emotional freedom-I believe this is why music exists
Q. With the flute as your weapon, you are conquering the world with one performance at a time. Why did you choose this form of musical art?
In some ways the flute chose me because I was obliged to learn flute at an early age at special primary school for gifted children.
Later I discovered that the flute is the oldest instrument known to man , and that anthropologists believe early man used the flute as a tool of communication. The oldest flute dates back some 40,000 years. I was intrigued to find that one of the National instruments of our indigenous Aboriginal people in Australia is the didgeridoo, which dates back to the same time, and is also a wind instrument likened to a giant flute. As an Australian French flute player this pleases me because in France we believe that the flute is an alternative voice.
From the first flute I played at the age of about four, I have since collected over 100 different flutes, and I am happy to say that I play all of them, whether they be my classical gold and silver instruments or a simple bamboo flute or bansuri. I was privileged to study in Paris on a French Government scholarship under the tutelage of great French flute masters, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Alain Marion. These luminaries of the instrument showed me that the flute could be a voice and that my best means of expression was via the sound of my flute.
Q. How did you start with your musical journey?
I was privileged to have a musical mother, and parents who encouraged me in my musical endeavours. The reason I first played a simple flute (recorder)? My first babysitter was training as a primary school teacher and was obliged to learn the recorder as part of her course. It must have been fate that the babysitter brought this recorder whenever she cared for me. She taught me to play simple tunes-I was only four!
From then on I played various musical instruments and was always the chosen soloist in school performances as a singer. I attended the Sydney Conservatorium of Music High School which is the Australian equivalent of the Julliard School in New York, and from there I went to Paris to study with the greatest flute players in the world.
Q. Can you please tell us about French music? Q. What is it about French music that you find so enchanting?
The thing I love about French music is that there is a narrative in both the harmony and the melody. To me French music-like Italian music-is mostly about vocal line and the voice. The reason for this is: after the French Revolution, when Paris was being rebuilt and the Opera Garnier was constructed, the voice ruled supreme in this beautiful city.
Instrumentalists were inspired to copy the sound of the voice. Frederick Chopin was in the Paris and through his music proved that the right hand of the piano could emulate a beautiful soprano… this idea caught on with all French instrumentalists. I believe it had a direct effect on the flourishing of other artforms such as Impressionism and Symbolism.
I find French music enchanting because there is a sensuality in the harmonies and the melodies, there is a manicured elegance about French music. There is passion and expression, even in the lighter pieces, their mere frivolity leads to reflection. French music is a music to which the soul has easy access- it is like a French embrace-on each cheek, a delightful musical journey-even the most contemporary French classical pieces have a special kind of connection for the listener.
Q. You have performed with prominent artists such as Richard Bonynge, Pascale Roge, The Manhattan Transfer and many more. How was your experience working with such prominent artists?
The joy in working with such erudite artistes is that there is an meeting of the mind and soul. Sometimes one will meet fellow musician for the first time, and one realises that together you are on a similar journey through the music. There is a reassurance in this-that we seek the same Divine connections through music-it happens time and time again. Of course we derive inspiration from each other and this is also a joy.
Q. You have been artistic director of many concerts. Where did the idea for the production come from and how did it evolve?
My need to communicate is paramount. I Love to devise different themed concerts to convey my ideas and the joy that I feel to my audiences. For my solo recitals, of course but also I like to put my leadership skills to assist my fellow performers. I am a “people person” I truly enjoy devising a program, putting various musicians together, curating the musical material in such a way that the performance, the lighting, the program, even the marketing images all come together as a whole, which then resonates with the audience.
From a very young age, I was producing and performing in concerts at the Sydney Opera House. I now have my own concert series at Australia’s premier recital concert hall. The Concourse, Chatswood, which is now a preferred venue for most of my fellow musicians, both international and national.
Q. You are now making a debut with your musical performance in India. What are your expectations from this country? Can you tell me about your experience in India?
Q. What can audiences expect from your performance in India?
India has long been a dream destination for me. I adore Indian classical music, as well as many other aspects of your culture. India is a land of deep spirituality. As a performer I believe the flute is a deeply spiritual instrument (connecting people on emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical levels). There is a great cultural diversity in your country, which appeals to me. I believe Indian people are innately attracted to the voice of the flute-the yearning that the sound of the flute creates. This sound of the flute can provide a sense of deep reconciliation with the divine in all of us. I expect this will resonate with my Indian audiences.
Being here I am mesmerised by your fascinating culture. I know that my audiences will love the philosophy behind my French style flute playing. Audiences can expect a deep sense of connection from my performances, also that they will feel completely included on the musical Journey.
Fine music keeps the emotional portals open. My intention in coming to India is to merge the sound of my different flutes with a love I have had for India since I first visited as a child! My French flute teacher, Jean-Pierre Rampal, once said that the sound of the flute is the sound of man that flowing freely from his body-I hope to convey this to my audiences. I also expect that I will fall in love with India all over again, and be obliged to return many times!
Q. For you, what is the best part about performing?
The best part about performing is sharing the musical journey with my audiences-feeling the reaction that the audience has the sound of my flute. Also the knowledge that each live performance is unique, a one off. There is something magical and intangible about the vibration set up by a live performance shared with an audience, something that will never be exactly repeated. That is a form of alchemy for me.
Q. Do you have a favourite part of the performance – a song you particularly love?
Whatever piece I am playing in the moment: that is my favourite piece of music for that moment! Each piece has a character and personality-I befriend that personality (within the piece of music)-and in that moment it is truly my best friend. Audiences can feel this, and it makes them feel that they belong in the music too.
Q. In your career, what has been your greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge for all musicians nowadays is the rise of the digital age and the effect it has had on the recording industry. I like to say that in the old days people bought the music and water was free. Now days it’s the opposite. There is expectation that once a piece of music is recorded, everyone can have free access to it-barely paying for it(like charging up your iPhone when you’re at a friends place you would not dream of paying for the electricity takes! ) Now we musicians are expected to be on social networking all the time, to be our own film directors, our own photographers, our own bloggers etc it makes for a lot of unpaid work and often takes time away from the musical discipline required to maintain music at a very high-level. I find this challenging but I’m not alone in this: many of my famous colleagues say the same.
Q. What has been your greatest joy?
When I’m having a bad day, and the outside world is getting to me, I pick up my flute and play. I hear the sound I make, then all my troubles disappear and I think ‘Thank God I followed the path of a musician, thank God I went to Paris and studied with my French gurus, thank God I play the flute!’ Apart from my beautiful son (who is also a musician) This is my greatest joy!
You can find my back catalogue of recordings on my websitehttp://www.janerutter.com and on iTunes My latest album Third Culture(An album of Indian Arabic and Chinese inspired world music for flute guitar and percussion) was released 10 days ago.