Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kate Prestia-Schaub Interview

Kate Prestia-Schaub

By Rebecca Weissman

During the 2012 NAMM show in Anaheim, we had the pleasure of speaking with Powell/Sonaré artist Kate Prestia-Schaub.  This Colorado native made her way to Southern California eleven years ago to study with Jim Walker and attend graduate school at the University of Southern California.  She began teaching privately while studying at USC and now enjoys a busy career as an educator and performer.  In addition to coaching at three high schools and one middle school in the area, she is an adjudicator for the Music Teachers’ Association if California (MTAC) and a woodwind coach for the Inland Valley Youth Symphony.  She is also an active performer, presenting masterclasses and solo recitals throughout the year.

Kate represents the third generation of flautists in her family, since both her mother and her maternal grandfather were flute players.  She is the daughter of Maralyn Prestia, former flautist with the Denver Symphony and Colorado Symphony.  Kate says her desire to play the flute came very early – age three to be exact.  She remembered that she wanted to play flute because she wanted to grow up to be just like her mother.  At the time, her request to play flute was a bit premature, so her mother had her play recorder.  As Kate recalls, she played the recorder for another three years but did not give up her original request.  She said, “I did not waver because I knew I wanted to play flute.  I loved my mother so much and admired her – I wanted to be just like her.”  

A few years later, Kate was in the 7th grade and found another passion – piccolo.  She told her mother that she wanted to play piccolo, but her mother wanted her to “stick with flute first to get the fundamentals.”  Determined to play piccolo, Kate snuck into her mother’s closet and “stole” her piccolo.  She remembers playing it for the rest of the night.  Ultimately, her mother heard her play the instrument and told her that it would be okay for her to play both flute and piccolo.  Kate studied with area orchestral players and then studied with her mother in high school.   She said, “My mother was a terrific teacher and a terrific mom.  Sometimes I would play in the kitchen while she cooked.  She’d turn her head to stir something on the stove and still be able to call out any wrong notes!”

When it came time to look into music schools for her undergraduate studies, Kate researched several schools.  She eventually travelled with her mother to Bloomington, Indiana to have a lesson with Kate Lucas at Indiana University, Bloomington.  Kate felt the school was a perfect match.  She said that with Ms. Lucas, she would be able to focus on flute and piccolo and work on her fundamentals, tone, and technique.  After two years with Kate, she transferred into the studio of Tom Robertello.  Kate said that she enjoyed her studies with Robertello as well as, “He was good with musical concepts.  He pushed me to make my own musical decisions and stand up for them.”  

Now a teacher herself, Kate finds the greatest inspiration from her own students.  She says, “I am so lucky to do so much with kids....  I was just with our youth orchestra yesterday, and I walked away so inspired... It is totally a treat and an honor to be a part of the next generation....  My grandfather was really dedicated to kids, and he inspired me to do the same.  I wake up every day, knowing that I will have young smiling faces at my door...  playing flute!  What a joy...” 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


By Andrea Fisher aka Fluterscooter

Fluterscooter (Andrea Fisher)
I recently did a Skype clinic for the Southeastern Pa. Flute Festival from my apartment in Tokyo, speaking about what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the music world.  The term “flutrepreneur” was coined, and it can apply to my career and many flutists’ careers nowadays.  I recently performed my Japanese debut, where not only did I perform, I also acted as producer, arranger, booking agent, publicist, stylist, you name it!  Putting together a show from start to finish in a foreign city is no easy task, and it can be very frustrating at times.  As much as I wished I could just be practicing my music, I had to do the jobs of contacting press, designing flyers, advertising, finding local musicians, technology, scheduling, and arranging music.  However, in the end, I was proud that I did it all myself and that it was a success!

Goal: to build a concert program that will entertain people who have never listened to classical music and they won’t realize they’re listening to classical music.  Also to collaborate with other forms of art, such as visual art and dance.  “Fluterscooter presents: The Fast and the Fluterious: Tokyo Drift” was anything but a typical flute recital. 

When putting together this show, I first searched the web to find an eclectric group of  Tokyo-based artists.  I knew I wanted to work with live art so the concert-goers would have a visual experience as well.  I found a light painter, who actually used LED lights to paint pictures, live, while I played.  I had always wanted to play with a Taiko drummer, and I picked up the Japanese shinobue flute on my last visit to Japan.  We played an original piece for shinobue and Taiko.   I had met a beatboxer/“mouth musician” on my last trip as well, and we stayed in touch.  I arranged Flight of the Bumblebee and Paganini’s 24th Caprice for us to play in a hiphop style, also with a DJ scratching.  I also wanted to include music written by flutists, so I chose Greg Pattillo’s “1st Beat,” and Flutronix’ “Aware,” both written in the past year.  I wanted some minimalist classical to go with the art, so I arranged Arvo Part’s Fratres, originally for violin, for flute.  I also threw in some covers, opening with a tune from dubstep producer Skrillex and finishing the show with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” complete with backup dancers and choreography.

I wanted the concert program to be a fluid, flowing piece of art, with virtually no stopping between pieces.  All music was memorized to avoid any clunky music stands on stage.  I believe that a show must be both sonically and aesthetically pleasing.  I had a beginning “electronic” section, then a “hiphop/beatbox” one, then a minimalist interlude where audience members could actually play with the LED lights and draw while I played, and ended with pop music.   I like audience participation so the audience does not feel removed from the music and musicians.  This is one way to break down the traditional stereotype of classical music, which is that it is inaccessible to the public.  It’s like doing a concert in the format of a Lady Gaga show and tricking the audience so that they don’t realize they just saw a FLUTE show!

Incorporating technology is equally as important in today’s world when doing a show.  Since I was a student at Juilliard, I’ve been an advocate of using technology in performance.  For my graduation recital 8 years ago, I was already making videos to accompany me (I played Steve Reich’s “Vermont Counterpoint” with a background video showing all the flute parts I played in nature) and learning programs such as MAX and Ableton for live and Protools for producing background tracks.

Lets talk about arrangements.  We all know what music speaks to us, and sometimes it’s not always flute music!  There is great repertoire for string instruments, piano, pop music that can work really well with flute.  You just have to be creative.  I’ve always loved Michael Jackson’s music.  For “Thriller,” I bought the instrumental track from ITunes and played the vocal lines, and the flute actually sounds really great in that song.  Who knew?  Find some songs you love and make unique covers out of them.

Adding extra artistic elements to the performance such as live art and dance also adds to the value of the show.  I learned choreography and worked with backup dancers for the first time.  I actually played flute and danced at the same time; yes, it’s possible!  It definitely took a lot more rehearsal time, but if you want to achieve a certain look, it must be done.

After putting the music and performers together, it was time to do the “busy work,” aka the tedious stuff.  Working with Photoshop, IMovie, writing press releases, etc…

First, start with a title and logo.  Coming up with a catchy title and graphics to match, like “Fluterscooter presents:The Fast and the Fluterious,” gave potential concert-goers an idea of what to expect at the show.  Would as many have come or paid attention to it if I had named it “Andrea Fisher in recital?” with no graphics attached? I had a brief introduction to Photoshop in order to achieve the look I wanted for the online and physical flyers. After deciding on the title and graphics, it is important to write a good description of what the show is about, as well as who you are as a performer, especially in a new city.  Combining the description, a good photo, and show flyer is a press release.  Always keep it simple as possible.

The next step was something I actually learned from hiphop artists.  Many of them post “behind the scenes” videos on youtube to show fans their process for writing a song, rehearsing, and their day to day life.  I filmed 2 of my rehearsals as previews of what to expect at the show.  They showed myself  rehearsing and talking with the beatboxer and Taiko drummer.   By doing behind the scenes videos, it also makes fans feel that they know you better.  Of course, I had to learn IMovie for editing the footage! I then promoted them mostly through facebook, twitter, and blogs.

After the press release and videos are done, contact the press!  This was not easy at first, as most online newspapers, magazines, and radio do not include personal emails of the writers.  So I went to twitter and facebook to look them up.  After facebooking/tweeting them, asking where I can send my press release and video clips, they were happy to give me their email addresses.  My first interview was for a popular podcast called Tokyo Metpod.  After I had the footage from the podcast, I sent out to newspapers and magazines, and I ended up with features both in Time Out Tokyo and the Japan Times.

The importance of networking played a large role in the success of this show.  I had the Apple Store in Ginza as the venue.  Since I had played there before, I kept in touch with the event coordinator through Facebook, and when I told him I’d be interested in doing an event in Tokyo, he was more than welcome to book me.  I think it is always important to stay in touch with the event coordinators from any gig you may play on, because you never know when you will need a venue for your own show.

I made sure to have the show filmed by a videographer, and he then made a short documentary-style video from his footage that I can use to book future shows.  As far as future shows, I will produce them in the same vein as my debut, but on a bigger level each time.  With all the technology at our fingertips, there is so much we can learn and add to our art.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pamela Sklar - Spell 166

Pamela Sklar
By Pamela Sklar

Spell 166 refers to one of the magical protective Spells from the Ancient Egyptian Book of The Dead, aka Book of Illumination. Always attracted to this imaginative, colorful culture with its rituals and symbols, I composed Spell 166 for piccolo, flute, two alto flutes, bass flute (with optional contrabass flute doubling bass fl) and organ. Throughout the faster sections I used sixteenth notes frequently, like a hypnotic chant. I've also included Middle Eastern scale passages for flute & organ as well as one long, bending chord which ends a slow, dreamy passage. Another effect I liked using is unison 'pulsing' flutes; a strong, deliberate vibrato which creates a mixed sense of power and mystery. Finally in the last section you'll hear organ sextuplets playing against the flutes in groups of four (six against 4). A fun rhythmic contrast!

*For more on Pamela Sklar, visit her website at and her artist page on the Powell Recording Studio at