Wednesday, March 1, 2017 by Jessica Valiente | Uncategorized
Preparation for the recitals this month has been all-consuming. I deliberately chose extremely challenging repertoire, because the goal is to create video that will impress the woodwind faculty of a college or conservatory that is hiring. A good plan, but then there is the real work to be done! I have prepared many recitals on my own since graduate school, but never any without a few fluff pieces, and never one with so much at stake. I decided that I need some help. Nevermind my age, or what kind of experience or credentials I may think that I have. There is always someone who does something better, right? And we must never stop learning. It was time to seek guidance from one of my teacher/mentors, and there is no one better, in my opinion, than Robert Stallman.
I studied with Bob my last year of college (just after the death of Harold Bennett, who died the first week of school my senior year), the two years of my masters degree, and I returned for additional lessons in 1994 and 95 when I was preparing for my doctoral auditions. Bob had then and has now a stellar career as an international soloist, and an unparalleled reputation among flutists. He is a flutist's flutist. The power, richness, and vibrancy of his tone have no equal. The most difficult passagework spins from his fingers completely effortlessly (even if it's a piece he hasn't seen in some time), and every note is energized and alive. Nothing about his playing takes anything for granted.
I went up to his home in Marblehead, Massachusetts. I had not had a lesson with him in over 20 years, but I knew he would have the answers for every interpretive and technical question I had. We had an intensive three-day session with a lesson every day. If I had any doubts about coming back to study at my age, they were dispelled in the first five minutes of the first lesson. No lazy habits were allowed, no notes could sit there without meaning, no resting on my laurels. By the end of the three days, my brain was spinning, but I had so much more direction as to what to do with my remaining weeks of preparation.
I'd like to thank my friend and colleague, Connie Grossman, who encouraged me to get over myself and take some lessons. I'd like to encourage all of you to check out Robert Stallman's cd's and publications, and see if you can catch a live performance somewhere. Visit his website!
Cheers, and never stop learning!