Tell me about your earliest experiences with the flute – do you remember why you chose it and what your first lessons were like?
I started playing the fife in school and then graduated quickly to the flute after being offered free lessons and an instrument.
What sort of music interested you while you were growing up? Were you always invested in classical music or were other genres more in favour during your studies?
I always listened to many different types and styles of music but had a huge classical and flute record and tape collection!
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue flute performance as a career?
I just always wanted to play for my living, and that was before I even really knew what that would be like. After joining Queensland and Australian youth orchestras, it became clear that orchestral playing was my passion.
Can you tell me about what that decision meant for your personal practice and what your journey was like moving from student to professional?
I love to practice and when I first started out I would do enormous hours of practice, often really late at night even after a concert. I’m not sure how efficient I was, but I just really enjoyed the process.
You and Peter Sheridan regularly perform on a variety of flutes that aren’t frequently heard on the concert stage! What interests you about the sounds you can create on these instruments?
Peter is a real master on the Low Flutes, and they make beautiful rich deep sounds, unlike anything else.
Are there any practical differences when practicing and performing on different types (and sizes!) of flutes?
You need more air, and they can be heavy and the hand stretch is wider with the largest ones.
Your upcoming performance, Dark Star, at the Melbourne Recital Centre, will see you and Peter showcase a range of works either recorded or commissioned over the recent decades. Commissioning and supporting composers are clearly priorities for you both – can you tell me a little about why you think it is important to support the development of new art?
When promoting these instruments Peter discovered that the limited repertoire needed to be expanded so he has inspired many composers to write for him so that the potential of these sounds can be discovered. The relationship between artist and composer can sometimes be almost a joint journey in creativity when using such specialised instruments. Peter not only commissions many works, but is dedicated to performing these pieces multiple times (not just a 1st premiere performance), and always helps to secure publishing and recording with his connections at Wirrapang, Theodore Presser and Move Records. Peter is also a regular feature artist at international flute festivals and takes these new works around the world.
Do you have any advice for young flautists looking to pursue a career in the orchestral world, either locally or overseas?
Try to take in as much knowledge as you can, explore other genres and check out classes with other instruments as well as your own. So much of our work is based on connections, so wherever possible try not to isolate but collaborate because you never know when you might come across people again - music is a small world.
Finally, can you share an audition tip with our audience of developing musicians?
Practice being able to play well in imperfect situations. Learn how to go with the flow under stress. Be adaptable.
Lisa-Maree Amos and Peter Sheridan perform at the Melbourne Recital Centre in Dark Star at 6pm on Thursday July 12.