Interview with guest flutist extraordinaire Stephen Schultz
On March 21st and 22nd House of Time will perform A Sex Vocibus: Bach's Musical Offering. (You can get tickets at this link). Celebrate Bach's birthday with one of his greatest masterpieces, The Musical Offering! This late work has a fearsome reputation for being hard and cerebral, but it is actually one of Bach's wittiest pieces, and with House of Time's colorful performance and Gonzalo X. Ruiz's pithy explanations, you'll be in on the joke. Follow along as the theme given to the composer as a challenge by King Frederick the Great goes through kaleidoscopic transformations and fabulous feats of counterpoint, culminating in the awesome Six Part Ricercar. Before we dive into Bach's magisterial note juggling we'll begin with Vivaldi's thrilling chamber concerto in D major, RV 94. This gem has solos for the flute and oboe, as well as all the violin fireworks you would expect. Rome Prize winner Carolyn Yarnell's "More Spirit Than Matter" rounds out the program, taking listeners through varied sonic landscapes, from jazzy baroque inspired rhythms to ascetic introspection and cosmic travels.
House of Time welcomes back guest flutist Stephen Schultz. We hope you'll take the time to get to know one of our favorite musicians, who we're sure you'll love to meet in person at our concerts. Click this link to buy tickets!
TD: Can you tell everyone about how you and Gonzalo met? SS: Well that goes back to the mid 1980s when I was teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I was coaching the Baroque ensemble and one of the players was a great young modern oboist. His name was Gonzalo X. Ruiz. I really enjoyed working with him and immediately noticed his affinity for playing 18th century repertoire. I mentioned that he should consider taking up the Baroque oboe and as they say, the rest is history. We also became good friends and he joined my own ensemble, American Baroque. We went on to a successful recording and touring schedule and Gonzalo eventually took over the leadership role. We have played in different orchestras and ensembles for the past 30 years and I think it is safe to say that we are each other’s favorite flute and oboe players. TD: Rome Prize winner, Carolyn Yarnell wrote "More Spirit Than Matter" for American Baroque years ago, and HoT has performed some of her works recently. What can you tell us about your musical relationship with her? SS: One of the missions of American Baroque was to commission contemporary composers to write new music for 18th century instruments. We were a pioneering group in that respect. I also met Carolyn Yarnell at the San Francisco Conservatory and asked her to write me a solo piece for electronically processed Baroque flute. It was a first and led to American Baroque asking her to write more music. More Spirit Than Matter is the happy result. For me, Carolyn is one of the most interesting living American composers. Her music is deeply gorgeous, spiritual and often with baroque influences. HoT has had much success playing her music in the past, always a hit with the audience. TD: You were a pioneer of the baroque flute, studying in Holland in the early days of the historical performance movement. Since then you've been principal flute in America's top baroque orchestra and frequent soloist playing the warhorses of the traverso repertoire. Now you're joining HoT for a concert of old masterpieces as well as new music right after finishing a tour of pop music in Southeast Asia. What can you tell us about the place of the baroque flute in our world all these years after you took it up? SS: Yes, I was the first generation of Americans studying early music in Holland. When I returned to the states to begin a career in 1978, there were very few Baroque flute players making a living. Though the early music scene was well established in Europe, it was just blossoming in the US. I've been lucky enough to play with many orchestras and ensembles and to establish myself as a teacher at various colleges, from San Francisco Conservatory of Music to UC Davis to Carnegie Mellon University. I've appeared on over 70 recordings helping to establish the Baroque flute. Over the past few decades, many talented players have taken up the Baroque flute and its become one of the great virtuoso instruments of our time. Modern audiences respond to the warm, rich sound of the wooden flute. It can be very seductive. And Gonzalo and I have played for so long together that our sounds blend and our musical thoughts merge as only you can with a great friend. I also have to say that playing chamber music with Tatiana is a total joy. She has a gorgeous sound, with great musicality and intonation. HoT is my favorite ensemble to play with and I am always honored when they ask me.