Flutist  Carol  Wincenc
 
A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


wincenc



Flutist Carol Winsenc [pronounced WIN-sense] is well-known and well-rounded in terms of her career.  She plays solo engagements, chamber recitals and orchestral concerti, as well as recording old and new works.  She teaches and gives master classes, and promotes music in general and her instrument in particular wherever she goes.

Coming from a musical background, many of the details of her life and career are included in the box at the end of this presentation.

She was in Chicago at the very beginning of 1990 for a special event where she played some new pieces with the composers at the piano
big names including Lucas Foss, David Del Tredici, Peter Schickele and Paul Schoenfield.  [See my Interview with Lucas Foss, and my Interview with David Del Tredici, and my Interview with Peter Schickele.]

We met a couple days prior to the concert, and as we were setting up for the interview, I mentioned that I had previously chatted one of her close friends
harpist Nancy Allenso that is where we began our conversation . . . . .


Bruce Duffie:    [With a sly nudge]  Is it easier to travel with a flute rather than with a harp?

Carol Wincenc:    [Laughs]  Infinitely.  No question about it.  It’s heaven to be able to play the flute for that reason.  It can fit into virtually anything.  In fact, most people say to me, “Where’s your instrument?  Did you forget your instrument?”  I say, “No, it’s right here in my bag.”

BD:    Do you carry just one or do you bring a couple of flutes with you?

CW:    At the moment I have only one because it just had a lot of work done on it, so I know that it’s going to be fine.  Because I’ve been doing so many performances of the Foss Concerto, which requires a lot of key clicking and I have to hit the instrument, I had to carry around two instruments just in case something happened to it.  

BD:    Do you damage your instrument very often?

CW:    No, no.  It’s just the normal wear and tear in and out of airports and x-ray machines.  There’s no way of getting around it.  I always say, “A flute coming through!”  And if I’ve got three flutes, then they know.  They’re fine.  Rarely do they have to look at it.    

BD:    What if it’s in you checked luggage?

CW:    No, no.  I would never check it.  My Lord, no!  I have to have physical contact with it, touching the side of my leg or on my arm or whatever.  

BD:    What about the normal wear and tear on the instrument?  Do you find that you lose pads about the same number of times that violinists lose strings?

CW:    It all depends on the player.  I don’t have much problem at all.  I don’t wear through pads quickly.  There’s the normal amount, and some of that is humidity and dryness because there’s a very fine layer of fish skin that covers the actual pad.

BD:    When you’re playing, you go from being out in the cold to being in a warm hall to being in a dry room to being in a drier hall.  How do you adjust to all of those problems?

CW:    The metal is a good conductor of heat, and vice-versa, it gets very cold very fast.   So the only thing that we have to really worry about is the condensation that builds up because sometimes water can get in the keys.  It
s not nearly as bad as on a clarinet or oboe or bassoon.  They are forever trying to get water out of their keys.  Every now and then it will dribble into a certain pocket.  Actually, the flute is happiest in warm humid weather.  Or maybe it’s me.  So the ideal is the Caribbean or Hawaii.  

BD:    You don’t find yourself sliding all over the keys?

CW:    No, not at all.

BD:    Do you find that the acoustics change whether it’s dry or wet in the halls?

CW:    Oh, no.  It really has to do with the construction of the hall.  Of course the well being of the player is affected by all of these things.  I always remember Segovia.  If someone in the audience or a master class would say, “Mr. Segovia, do you ever get nervous?” he would say, “Of course I get nervous.  I never know the temperature of the hall, I never know really what the acoustic is or what the humidity will be.”

BD:    Has any of it ever befuddled you so much that you couldn’t play a concert?

CW:    The only crisis I can recall is when I was in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra on a tour of the Soviet Union.  We were playing at the Moscow Conservatory and literally it was 62 degrees.  The oboists were in an absolute rampage at that point.  I had to play the Mozart Concerto and it was very unpleasant.  I was all bound up just moments before walking out on the stage.  Somehow I managed.  They probably got the heat up to about 68, but…

BD:    Was this a big room or a small room?

CW:    It was a very large room, a beautiful room.

BD:    I’m surprised that you didn’t play in an overcoat.  

CW:    There have been occasions when I wonder if that wouldn’t help!  But it’s so fascinating
even if I’m cold, rarely will I remember that I’m cold when I’m in the thick of performing because my mind goes into the work at hand and the inspiration of the moment.  

BD:    In general, how much is all the rehearsal and the work beforehand, and how much is left for the inspiration of the moment?  

CW:    The great goal of any artist is to have it be spontaneous at the moment of delivery, and I find that it is, virtually.  Rarely are there really purely stale moments.  There’s always an essence in an audience; there’s always some kind of trait or aura that’s coming from the listeners, and I’m very sensitive to that.  I can’t help it.  I just know if it’s on or if it’s off, or if it’s a conservative group or if it’s more open to new sounds.  Some times I’ve had real surprises, too.  Typically in Japan, for example, where they’re very non-reactive until the end, and they just can’t let you go.  You’ll play three, four encores a night!

BD:    Would you rather have this serious quiet while you’re playing, or would you rather have a little more enthusiasm at the end of each piece so that you feel warmth?
    
CW:    I think that’s all purely conditioning, frankly.  In our country, because we come from a much freer society, we’re used to a more overt emotional reaction to something.  So that’s something that I’ve become accustomed to
some kind of reaction — and yes, to me that’s very pleasant and also very enthusiasm-generating.  But I became aware that it doesn’t necessarily reflect the real feeling.  In Japan, when you get to know the people, they’re very deeply emotional.  They just express it in one big blast usually at the end.  Different cultures and their reactions and their conditioning are fascinating.  They have a whole protocol, they have a whole demeanor.

BD:    Do you try to fit in with their demeanor and what they expect?

CW:    Oh sure.  That’s just part of me.  I’m a moon child; that means that like the lunar surface we tend to reflect what’s around us.  And it’s true!  I’m very aware of what’s going on; I’m sensitive to it and I won’t change my whole presentation because of it.  I still have to remain true to what is coming from me.  

BD:    Being a re-creative artist, you’re taking music that has been written already.  Do you find that there is enough creativity in it for you?

CW:    Oh of course.  Yes, I think there’s no question about it, but I’m selective about what I play.  For example, this concert is very exciting for that very reason
to be able to play with the composers right there at the keyboard.  It’s just the haute experience here.  It’s just pure delight.

BD:    Would it be at all easier if it was one composer all through the evening?  Here you’ve got several different composers and several different styles.

CW:    I don’t think it’s a question of easier or not.  There’s a challenge inherent if you have an evening of all one composer.    I love that idea, too; I love that format, but there are very few flute recitals where you could do an entire evening of one composer.

BD:    It would have to then incorporate different chamber ensembles.

CW:    Exactly, I think so to keep the interest.  Not every work is going to be strong, you know.  We don’t have Beethoven who wrote for the flute; he did, but selectively. 

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    From the repertoire of the flute, how do you decide which works you will play this season and which you will put off until next season, and which you’ll bring back?  

wincencCW:    The bulk of my work is doing concertos with orchestra.  That’s a wonderful partnership of expressing my wishes of what I want to do and what the conductor says he would like.  Very often an orchestra will make a request for certain works and that’s fine with me.  My management gives them a list of things they can choose from, and since I’ve been so interested in commissioning new works, it’s great fun to be able present all kinds of new goodies.

BD:    Because you commission so many works, is that to say that there really isn’t enough yet for the flute?

CW:    I think everybody is searching for the ultimate piece, but I think that there’s ample material and I think we can have faith that there always will be plenty there.  It’s not such a cut-and-dried answer that I can give to that, but I think there’s plenty and we don’t have to worry about it.  

BD:    When you give a commission to a composer, do you just simply say, “Write me a concerto” or do you get any more specific than that?

CW:    I have gotten specific, though usually it’s based on how well I know the composer since I tend to pick someone with whom I’ve become quite well acquainted and know their works.  I get a sense of what their style is all about and what I might expect.  On top of that I can ask for a certain kind of energy or color or a type of piece.  I can be specific.  In the case of the Foss, I really just left that up to him.  He knew the kind of player I was because we had played three early pieces that we’re doing on the same concert.  So he knew me, and in fact that’s usually what facilitates it.  The composer gets to know the player well and can make it more tailor-made.  

BD:    It’s more than just knowing the flute?

CW:    Exactly.  For a successful piece it’s ideal that the composer know exactly who he’s writing for.

BD:    I assume you have played some new pieces that were written for other flute players.

CW:    Oh sure, absolutely.  We’re starting this program with a work that was written for Sue Ann Kahn by Peter Schickele.  The, well, innumerable pieces from the past, of course, you know, of the 20th century.  The Ibert Concerto written for Marcel Moyse, who was my teacher, and the Nielsen Concerto was written for the first flutist of the Danish Philharmonic.  Of the things written in the last 20 years, there’s a whole list of things that were commissioned by other flute players
Rampal, for example.  

BD:    Are there big differences between what someone would write for you and what someone would write for Rampal or Galway?

CW:    Oh yeah, sure.  There are going to be differences, but you’d have to go directly to the composer to say why he did what he did.

BD:    Do you ever have any suggestions for the composer to push it a little bit one way or another?

CW:    After the piece or sketches have been presented to me, I’ve worked with them and made suggestions; for example, Joan Tower wrote a work that I
’ll be premiering in two weeks at Carnegie Hall.  [See my Interview with Joan Tower.]  She wrote a piece previously for me for flute and guitar with Sharon Isbin, and I suggested a lot of things for her.  She loved that I gave her some ideas.

BD:    Were your suggestions things that are more difficult or just more tuneful or…?

CW:    Things that will lie better on the instrument or articulation that might give the phrasing a certain flavor.  When it comes to changing pitches I don’t get into too much of that unless it’s a really awkward fingering situation.  Then I will say, “This will work better than that” because the most important thing is that a composer really ideally wants to have a work appear effortless.  So anything to help achieve that is good.  With Lukas, after the concerto was premiered I said to him I wanted a cadenza.  So he wrote a cadenza after the fact.  Then I made some changes with his approval.

BD:    You are obviously a first-rate flute player.  Is there anything on the flute that you could not accomplish?
 
CW:    Well sure, but with time I could probably finagle it, maneuver it.  You can do anything if you do it little by little.

BD:    Then a composer could write anything at all and have you play it?

CW:    There are certain works that I just don’t have time to get into
— some of the real wild multi-phonic things and acoustical things that are being done on the instrument.  But that would just be a question of my getting acquainted with how to do it.  It’s just a busy life that I have right now, so I have to really budget my time well with the works I have already that I’m committed to playing.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Do you like being a wandering minstrel?

CW:    I’m not wandering; I’ve got real purpose behind my moves.  It’s very aimful, not aimless.  I’m a gypsy if you mean that I take my wares elsewhere.  I’m doing fine and I enjoy it immensely.

wincencBD:    Are there times when you play different flutes in the same recital
— a flute, a piccolo, an alto flute…?

CW:    Yes, very often.  Pieces will be calling for different instruments.  On this program I’m not, though; it is just the regular flute.  I do have to sing and play at the same time at one point.

BD:    That creates the multiphonics?

CW:    Yeah.  It’s a buzzy sound.  Jethro Tull and all those jazz flute players started playing that way awhile ago.  

BD:    Do you like the styles of music that you are required to play?  You go from Bach and Mozart to the very newest and wildest.  Are there certain styles that suit your temperament more?

CW:    When people ask me what is my favorite music, I like to say that it’s what I’m doing at the moment.  However, I don’t want to be that glib.  It’s hard to say.  I’m very fond of old music, very old music, pre-Baroque, actually.

BD:    I understand that you’re also fond of different kinds of flute music from around the world.

CW:    Oh yes, all the ethnic music, too.  I love that; I’m crazy about that.  I’ve always been very bonded to the whole notion of music to fulfill a function
a ceremony, a dance, a village ritual of some sort.  It’s very selfless work and I find that very inspiring.  And the virtuosity that occurs amongst those folk flutists is really, really extraordinary.  

BD:    Have you ever tried to play some of those instruments?

CW:    I’ve blown into them.  In fact, at the International Flute Festival that I had for three years running, it was fascinating.  We’d all swap flutes and try each other’s flutes.  Everybody would peer at the other and say, “How do you get that sound?” 

BD:    Is the flute purely a sound instrument, or is there supposed to be something visual that you get from watching someone play it?

CW:    That’s an interesting question.  Maybe you should answer that because it’s true; I think today’s modern metal instrument is very fetching.  It catches the light and it sparkles.  It’s like a play of light; it dances.  It depends on where you’re sitting, but usually you see the glimmer, the reflection, so it’s very delightful that way.  But the flute has so many different voices.  It has a very soulful voice, which is more introspective and more searching, sort of a calling one to look inside.  The flute also has a very incredibly lyric quality that sounds just like a singer, a beautiful soprano.  That’s what Mr. Moyse modeled so much of his playing after.  And of course there is the use of vibrato and how you color the sound or don’t use vibrato or bend the pitch.  On this concert I have innumerable effects that occur throughout.

BD:    At what point do these just become, as you say,
effects instead of being musical?

CW:    The twentieth century techniques are very specifically notated.  The use of vibrato is a very overt way of coloring the sound of the flute just like a singer.  Imagine a plain sound without any vibration and then adding the vocal.  The vibration gives it more warmth to the sound.  You sort of take the edge off it.  We are so closely allied with the voice; in fact, I can’t play unless my vocal cords are free of any hostile stuff or congestion on them.

BD:    Do you suggest to some of your flute students that they take a few voice lessons?

CW:    I make them sing.  They all have to sing.  I don’t require that they study rigorously the whole technique of singing, but that they employ their voice as a freeing agent to get them more connected to the very natural way of breathing.  When you sing a phrase, it’s so natural; when you pick up an instrument you tend to let that get in the way of something that’s already there.  It doesn’t have to be tampered with.

BD:    Is this what you look for in the pieces that you play
how to make it natural?

CW:    Yeah, yeah.  That’s a lot of it.  Every now and then I get a feisty piece that seems very unnatural but it’s too much of a challenge and I take it on. 

BD:    So you make the piece your own rather than letting it own you?

CW:    Sure, sure.  Yeah, yeah.  

BD:    Are there any pieces where you say, “I don’t want to play this, it’s not music”?

CW:    Yes.  There are definitely pieces that the alchemy is just not right for me.  

BD:    What is it that makes or breaks a piece for you?

CW:    If it’s just too random or doesn’t have a real tie-in; if it’s just too episodic; if it’s just a nineteenth century piece that just goes on forever with just more and more flourish and not much substance.  It really doesn’t matter what era we’re talking about.

BD:    You don’t like the occasional glitz?

CW:    Oh I, I love the occasional glitz.  Yes, it has its place, very much so.  I like glitz occasionally, but a steady diet of it is too much.

BD:    Vocalists have to be careful they don’t sing too often.  Do orchestral players and solo instrumentalists have the same problem that they have to limit themselves a bit?

CW:    It all depends on the stamina of the person.  It’s like being an athlete.  If you overstress the muscle it will snap and you’ll get yourself into a lot of trouble.  You have to be very sensitive and watch for those signs in yourself, and then you have to break it up with all kinds of stretching exercises and things like that.  I’m a swimmer; that’s how I manage to keep a balance.  We certainly have more endurance, in that we can sit in a practice room for two solid hours and go at it without a break.  I don’t advocate that; I think it’s necessary to break on the hour and take a stretch or move around.

BD:    The voice would die but the lip doesn’t fall off?

CW:    Exactly. Right.

BD:    Are there times after long sessions or long rehearsals that you really just have no lip left?  I’m an old bassoon player so I know the tiredness factor . . .

CW:    Right, right. Absolutely.  Sure.  I do keep the lips vibrating in such a way, or puffing the cheeks out.  I find it’s mostly making sure my jaw isn’t tight.  I do little exercises, but I find it’s mostly in the physical body that it’s important to change the position because you’re fixed, you have to maintain a certain position to play the instrument.  So it’s important to break that up.  

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You have made a number of recordings.  Do you play the same in the recording studio as you do in the concert hall?

CW:    Yes, there’s a certain consistency because we bring to the recording studio the sense of performance that we would if were on stage.  What is very different is that there isn’t that bouncing off of the audience.  That makes it a very different situation.  One might try something in the concert hall based on the acoustic or the flavor in the air; something in the moment that just might happen and you just go for it all in that situation because you’re just doing it once.  When you’re recording, you ultimately try to bring that freshness to the recording, and it takes a lot of visualization, I think, to imagine that you are in front of an audience when you record.  In a way I love recording, too, because there aren’t the distractions or the worry of the audience.  So it can be actually even more intimate in that regard.  And, I can listen to myself in a different way than when I know there’s a public out there.

wincenc

BD:    Do you strive for perfection in the performance?

CW:    All the time.

BD:    Do you ever achieve perfection?

CW:    There are times when I’ve been very satisfied, yes.  Perfection, I think, is a divine word, and I’m more human than otherwise.

BD:    But in a recording, you can make each piece just right and each section just right.

CW:    Well, you can.  The recording engineers can make it just right by their snips and cuts and pastes, and that recording may not actually reflect what happened.  But I think I know what you are driving at because especially when you’re repeating something there’s some little thing that will go off.  It might not be exactly the same, but there’s more opportunity for carbon copy delivery.

BD:    When you get this performance of a piece assembled and each little section is right, does that set up an impossible standard when you go back into the concert hall?

CW:    Yes, and I think that’s a real dilemma today.  We’re getting more people who are too anxious when they have to step out into the real situation to deal with the natural.  Mistakes are going to be made, so it really requires that you put everything into perspective.  You have to understand the degrees of what’s possible and what’s not.  It’s important to discipline yourself that way because if you try to imagine that you’re going to have this totally unblemished situation when you’re performing live, that’s unrealistic. 

BD:    Does this also transfer to the audience that listens to your records and listens to other people’s records and never hears a horn crack or a flute miss or anything like that?  Then they go to the concert and complain, “Oh, that was a mistake.”

CW:    Ideally the audience isn’t going to try to make sure that that is what has been achieved.  They’re going to be affected by what’s happening, what the performer is putting across and projecting spiritually.  That’s what it’s about, ideally.  It’s their problem if those people come to concerts and are waiting to hear some totally polished, perfect situation.

BD:    Even if you’re expecting it, if all of a sudden you hear a mistake it’s a little bit jarring.  

CW:    But that’s the problem of the listener.  Look at Artur Schnabel.  He’s the classic that everybody talks about, and there are other people, too.  I don’t have to go down the list.  You will either catch the drift of what the performer is trying to say with the bloops and bleeps, or not.  That’s what makes a live performance so special.  That’s what makes the creative spirit what it is because everybody has their own statement to make.  They have their own point of view.  So that’s what young artists have got to develop is their own
interpretation, the way they’re approaching it; not just to aim for the perfection of the notes, the non-cracks, but what are they, how are they,  and how are they connecting to something much greater.

BD:    We are sort of treading around, so let me plunge right in
what is the purpose of music in society?

CW:    I find it’s a healing force; at least it’s healing for me and I think it’s healing globally.  I think a lot of why the earth is still in one piece is because of these sorts of acts.  It’s not just music, it’s anything in the arts.  Now, every time I walk out there, there’s a mission.  I am a missionary or an ambassador so to speak because we’re seeing very difficult times.  Young people in our country are reluctant to go into the arts.  They see their peers getting out of school with six-figure salaries right off the top, and they’re worried that they’re not going to be able to make a living.  You’ve heard it all; it’s the whole thing, and so what we have to do is try to keep this country aware that once the arts go, that’s it; it’s kaput.  Marshall McLuhan said that a long time ago.  What remains after civilization?  Certainly not their politics.  It’s what their works of art have been, so we have to remember that all the time.  Anyway, I think that it’s all part of the greater
healing.  That’s a strong word and I mean it very sincerely because it’s what feeds me.  I go towards many sources to be fed, but there’s no question that’s why I’m selective about what I like to listen to.  But even if a piece doesn’t resonate quite right with me, maybe I have a respect or regard for what the composer is or what that person’s relationship is to me.  There may be a bond that way.  They may not be a Beethoven, but if there’s something that I feel strongly about in them it will come through in their music, whether it’s witty or serious.  I feel very strongly about humor in music.  That’s why Peter Schickele is like a god in some ways because he’s amazing.  Where can he go?  What’s his next possible evolution?  He’s got everybody just releasing so much with that wonderful delight, and he makes it so intimate on the stage in the PDQ Bach shows.  He is really something.

BD:    Is he the ultimate balance between the artistic and the entertaining, or is he the ultimate schizo?

CW:    Well, not to anybody who knows him.  A lot of his audience is not so familiar with his serious side.  Not the people who know him well and know what he’s really about, but when I say
Peter Schickele is on the program,” most people’s reaction is, “Oh, you mean PDQ Bach.”  I know that as he’s advancing in years, he wants very much to have his serious works out there.  He’s just one example of people who can bridge the gap, who can do both.  Lukas Foss does it in his music with a very special kind of humor.  So does Paul Schoenfield.  He’s writing me the most remarkable concerto called Klezmer Rondos which has an actual klezmer band in it.  It’s just fantastic.  He’s a very serious composer who can incorporate the beauty of both sides.  Many sages have always said, “If we can depart this world laughing we’re in good shape.”  So I think that there’s a lot of connection to that. 

BD:    You’ve mentioned three of the four composers.  What about Del Tredici?

CW:    He’s another one who combines such marvelous spontaneity.  We only have to look at that Alice saga, and here we are coming back to Chicago where his big recording was made.  But he is also brilliant.  He has a very real point of view.  This particular work, Acrostic Song, is this little gem that comes at the end of Final Alice.   It’s a very simple song but it has tremendous emotional impact.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    It is obvious that you enjoy playing the flute.

wincencCW:    I like the flute.  It happens to be the vehicle that I wound up with, but I often think it wouldn’t have mattered what it was.  As a young girl I started on the violin, and then I was a serious ballerina, and then I loved painting, and I did theater.  I also I love to behold other people doing their thing, and when it’s integrated it works, and when it’s out of balance for whatever reason, it doesn’t work.  But it’s very clear.

BD:    Are you coming back Chicago after this concert?

CW:    Not specifically.  I’m playing nearby with the Elgin Symphony.  That’s coming up this season, and also a performance in Rockford.

BD:    Thinking of concerti, do you play better when you have a better orchestra behind you?

CW:    Let us just say that if the attention is at a certain point, it affects the performance.  It’s not so easy just to say a better orchestra.  Maybe I could be playing with one of the top five, but if the attention isn’t there...  It depends on who’s on the podium, what mood are they in, how many performances have they already had; these are all factors that enter into it.  Yes, in general the better the orchestra the better the performance is.  It’s easier; it facilitates it, shall we say.  But a really technically polished group might not have the spirit that a wonderful chamber orchestra in North Dakota might have.  Some of my richest experiences have been in more remote areas; not highly remote, but not the big metropolitan areas.  If there’s an earnestness and genuine quality, you can just slice it with a knife.  You can’t turn away from that.  It’s there.  It’s exists especially if it’s been nurtured, if it’s a group that’s been given a lot of nurturing, meaning lots of support from the community; real pride.  I grew up with community orchestras.  My father still has three community orchestras that he’s devoted his whole life to.   I’m going back to play at the 45th anniversary season of one of them next year.  He started it and is still going.  So I know what that’s about, to really caress an endeavor.  Amen.  That’s a good epitaph, isn’t it?  [Both laugh]

BD:    Sure!  You also do some teaching.  Are there any bits of advice that tend to permeate most of the students you have?

CW:    These days it is very competitive and there are fewer positions for them to go into.

BD:    Is it too competitive?

CW:    We’re turning out a lot of players.  We have some 80 to 90 flutists who audition at Julliard every spring and we can only take four.  The president of the school, Joseph Pulisi, is very adamant about this remaining a small, select group because he’s very aware of what the market is all about.  At Indiana University, where I’m a full professor, it’s a different story.  That school has been built on the tradition of having lots of people come into the school.   It’s the law that the cream rises to the top, and the ones who really have got it will survive.  What I try to do is develop in them a sense of their whole person, not only going for a sort of myopic view.  They have to keep their options open, especially if I find a player who’s very bright in other areas
not necessarily just as a flutist, but maybe in theory or musicologythat they keep those avenues open and definitely give attention to that because there’s a lot of flute players.

BD:    Will all that make a person a better flute player?

CW:    Sure, absolutely.  I really believe that if you can do one thing well then you can do everything well, but that means going back to the whole idea about attention and really giving it your all. 

BD:    Since you are in contact with many composers, do you have any general advice for someone who wants to write for the flute?

CW:    Just to listen to everything available so as to get a sense of the color possibilities of the instrument.  Now there’s so many remarkable things out
from New Age or jazz, just listening to all the venues, even ethnic music.  There’s no end to what you can find in terms of color source.  But it’s especially good to ally themselves with a player, to have a hands-on experience; to get right up next to a person and say, “Is this possible” and “How would this sound?” and “Could you try that for me?”  And of course just to have a really solid background in harmony.

BD:    What advice do you have for audiences?

CW:    To keep coming!  To not be afraid, to not be intimidated, to not think that it’s something that’s for others.  There’s no way of knowing how you might be touched by something.  How can you know that unless you’re there, unless you’re present to it?  Also to not come with a great expectation.  Be easy-going in that regard; let it just kind of fall into you.  Don’t struggle with it as a listener.  There will be things that will resonate with you and those that won’t, but there will always be something to take from it.  Obviously, an audience member has the power of choice
he can say yay or nay to what he wants to listen to, so that’s sort of weeding out a lot of experiences.  But there’s so much phenomenal talent out there, and it comes in many forms and shapes.  It’s remarkable what we can have.  And now with this ever-growing media evolution, you can touch a button and it is there on CDs, with the high quality kinds of speakers.  But don’t forget that none of that would be possible if it hadn’t been done by some human hand to begin with.  We need an audience just as much as they need us.  It’s really 50-50.

BD:    Thank you for coming to Chicago.  I look forward to this special concert.

CW:    Thank you.  It was my pleasure.



Since winning the top prize in the 1978 solo Naumburg Flute Competition, Carol Wincenc has been one of the United States’ most beloved and celebrated international stars of the flute. As the vibrant muse of today’s most prominent composers, she has performed in Grammy-nominated recordings and award-winning premieres of works written for her. Wincenc will celebrate her fortieth-anniversary season in 2009–2010 with performances of six newly commissioned works by Joan Tower, Jake Heggie, Shih-Hui Chen, Thea Musgrave, Jonathan Berger, and Andrea Clearfield at New York’s Merkin Recital Hall, the Morgan Library, and the Juilliard School. [See Bruce Duffie's Interview with Thea Musgrave.]  Recent highlights include a performance for Elliott Carter’s one-hundredth birthday, featuring Carter’s complete works for wind, and tours featuring the Vivaldi Gardellino Flute Concerto.  [See Bruce Duffie's Interview with Elliott Carter.]

Born to two remarkable musician parents who gave tirelessly to the arts in their Buffalo, New York, community, Wincenc has continued this tradition as a distinguished Professor of Music on the faculties of Indiana University, Rice University, Manhattan School of Music, and, currently, Stony Brook University and her alma mater, the Juilliard School.

Carol Wincenc has appeared as concerto soloist with the Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Houston, Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Indianapolis symphonies and has been a regular performer at numerous festivals including Marlboro, Mostly Mozart, Santa Fe, and Spoleto. In great demand as a chamber musician, she has been a frequent guest of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series, of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and with the Emerson, Tokyo, and Guarneri string quartets. A member of the venerated New York Wind Quintet and founder of Les Amies, her trio with harpist Nancy Allen and violist Cynthia Phelps, she has also given acclaimed performances with notables such as Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

Her most recent recording on Naxos features the new music of Samuel Adler, and she premiered a flute sonata written by the composer for the one-hundredth anniversary of the Juilliard School. [See Bruce Duffie's Interview with Samuel Adler.]  Carl Fisher has published her Signature Series, which includes works written for her by Foss, Górecki, Rouse, Tower, Black, Torke, Picker, Schoenfield, Sierra, Paget, and Schickele.  [See Bruce Duffie's Interview with Henryk Górecki, and his Interview with Christopher Rouse.]




© 1990 Bruce Duffie

This interview was recorded in Chicago on January 6, 1990.  Portions (along with recordings) were used on WNIB the next day and again in 1994 and 1999.    This transcription was made and posted on this website early in 2010.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.

Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.