Updated: Oct 26, 2020
This interview is the first in a new series featuring noteworthy Brannen players, the stories of their musical lives, and the inspiring details of their commissioning, recording, and/or performing projects. Today, we're delighted to highlight the work of Lindsey Goodman prior to the release of her new album returning to heights unseen on May 11, 2018.
When I caught up with Lindsey, I asked her to tell us about her education and early career.
My earliest memory is of my dad playing flute to lull me to sleep as a child. (He had played in his high school marching band.) In the Harry Potter books, they say that “the wand chooses the wizard”, so the flute definitely chose me!
Of course, my greatest influences as a flutist are my teachers. I was incredibly fortunate to study with Robert Langevin for my undergraduate degree at Duquesne University and my orchestral performance diploma at the Manhattan School of Music, and with Walfrid Kujala for my master's degree at Northwestern University. These amazing gentlemen are with me every day as a performer and teacher!
I gave my professional recital debut at 16 in my hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, and my first appointment was as solo flutist of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble when I was still an undergraduate student. This season, I celebrate seventeen years with that organization!
As a true advocate for emerging composers and electroacoustic, interdisciplinary, and multimedia works, you’ve given over one-hundred world premieres! When did your love of new music begin? Was there a key moment or experience?
Within weeks of matriculating at Duquesne, David Stock, founder of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, was on a mission to indoctrinate me into the world of living music, and, by my second semester, I was performing in his student contemporary ensemble. Working with such a noted composer on works by both established and emerging creators opened my ears to the music of our time, and, soon, I was collaborating with student composers on their projects.
The collaborative aspect of new music drew me in, as did the excitement of being the first to interpret a piece. Rather than relying on recordings, tradition, or my teachers’ examples, as I did with classic repertoire when a young musician, routinely studying and understanding composers’ intentions from the score alone at that formative time in my education molded me into a better musician on all repertoire.
Though I will always continue to perform beloved standard repertoire as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician (who could ever give up Bach or Debussy?), my calling as an artist is to the music of our time.
Do you have a philosophy about new music that informs your drive to commission, perform, and record it?
I have two new music mantras:
Without the music of today, there can be no music of tomorrow.
All music was once new. (Gratefully borrowed from NPR’s Composers Datebook.)
Both concepts perfectly describe why I commission. I can’t imagine a world in which Barrère didn’t commission Varèse to write Density 21.5, and, while every commissioned work isn’t such an instant classic, each may become someone’s new favorite piece!
Both sayings also remind me that, as performers, we’re each part of a long lineage of flutists, and that we should strive to play new music with the reverence of the old masters and standard repertoire as if the ink were still wet on the page.
And the reason I record? The composer’s craft is endlessly amazing to me, as she chooses one note over another, and indelibly presses it into the page for all time. To be the person who then acts as the conduit between her soul and the audience’s ears is nearly sacred to me, and the best way I can repay a composer for that incredible gift is to ensure that as many people hear her work as possible. Recording makes this a reality!
So, May 11th marks the date when your 2nd album, returning to heights unseen, will be released by Parma Recordings. What was the creative inspiration for the album?
My debut album, reach through the sky, hadn’t even been released yet, when I was already dreaming of my next recording project. In seeing that first disc to fruition, I fell in love every aspect of making an album, from laying down takes in the recording studio to long hours under headphones polishing tracks, and from sharing the finished product on the radio to hearing listeners’ experiences with the music. Luckily, in the three years it took to make my first album, I’d already commissioned enough fantastic new music to fill a second, so returning to heights unseen was born!
What can we look forward to hearing on this album? What are you especially proud of?
returning to heights unseen includes eight commissioned works written since 2004 by American composers, and every work is for solo flute. Roger Zahab’s suspicion of nakedness is the most traditional solo work in terms of language, whereas Linda Kernohan’s Demon/Daemon makes tremendous use of extended techniques. Technology plays a role in every other piece, allowing me to perform David Stock’s A Wedding Prayer for two flutes as a duet with myself, and introducing fixed media soundtracks for Tony Zilincik’s improvised I Asked You, Randall Woolf’s rock-band-meets-baroque anthem The Line of Purples, and Judith Shatin’s flexible For the Fallen. Real-time computer processing produces every accompanying sound from the flute part in Roger Dannenberg’s Separation Logic, and Elainie Lillios’s Sleep’s Undulating Tide utilizes Max/MSP software in imaginative new ways.
Other than the exciting music on it (!), this album is especially meaningful to me because of the 135 donors who lovingly crowdfunded the project, making my dream a reality. Thanks to their belief in this music and the support of Brannen Brothers Flutemakers, I have never felt more supported as an artist!
You’ve experimented with interdisciplinary works, playing flute and singing, on your first album. Did you do that on the 2nd album, as well?
Indeed, I did! Because the flute is one of the most ancient and organic of instruments and the closest instrumental counterpart to the human voice, singing pairs wonderfully well with flute playing. In Demon/Daemon and Sleep’s Undulating Tide, you’ll hear my own voice paired with flute and electronics to realize these composers’ full vision.
When I commission, I always hope that many other flutists will want to play the new work, too, so don’t let the singing on these pieces dissuade you, if you’re not a classically-trained vocalist. Both of these works are accessible to the seasoned “bathroom singer”!
For those who may not have heard your debut album, reach through the sky, tell us why we might want to pick that album up, as well.
reach through the sky (New Dynamic Records, 2016) consisted of six commissioned works by living American composers, including works for solo flute (Grant Cooper’s virtuosic Other Voices…), flute and electronics (Rob Deemer’s appealing The Road From Hana and Judith Shatin’s proto-feminist epic Penelope’s Song), and chamber works (Jeffrey Nytch and Jessica Mellili-Hand’s Covenant for mezzo-soprano, flute, and alto flute, Gilda Lyons’ improvised Chrysalis for unspecified instrumentation, and Erich Stem’s New Year’s for alto flute, vibraphone, and piano). Between these two albums, I hope that flutists of all persuasions will find a new favorite work to explore and enjoy!
Where are your albums available for purchase/download?
returning to heights unseen will be available for physical or digital purchase on Friday, May 11th, 2018 from these outlets (and eligible for pre-order beforehand at most!):
reach through the sky is available for physical or digital purchase from these retailers:
As a teacher, what advice can you give to a flutist wanting to approach their first electroacoustic piece?
Two years ago, I wrote a piece for The Flute Examiner called “The Flutist’s Electroacoustic Primer," which shares a great deal of information for the first-time electronic music performer, including repertoire and gear lists. I recommend that students begin with fixed media works, which are as simple as playing along with your favorite recording, and can be as easy to perform as hitting “play” on your phone connected to a house sound system.
The most important thing about getting started with electroacoustic music, though, is to be fearless! As 21st-century humans, we interact with technology nearly even waking hour or each day, so integrating it into our art-making is a logical way to express the world in which we live. Especially for young listeners and those not steeped in western art music, electroacoustic music is the perfect gateway to both the flute and classical music, so grab your flute and your laptop to start making music with technology!
Last, but not least, we have to ask...What role does your Brannen flute play in your music making?
My Brannen Flute and I have been together for 20 years, and it is my musical soul mate! The versatility of the instrument is what allows me to effortlessly go from playing the newest extended techniques to Bach, and from orchestral repertoire to the latest technology-powered piece. In every register, dynamic, and color, my Brannen is always leading me to new discoveries, allowing me to push the flute repertoire into the future. I wouldn’t dream of taking the stage or making a recording without my Brannen!
Lindsey Goodman plays a .016 sterling silver soldered tonehole Brögger Flute and Headjoint.