We caught up with FSO flutists (left to right) Jeannette Hirasawa Moore, Rebecca Romo, Andrea Graves, and FSO keyboardist Rita Borden as they prepare for their concert, Musical Valentines on February 26th! They will be performing a diverse program of love-themed music ranging from works by Beethoven to The Beatles!
Q: Can you share some background about what led you to music and your instrument?
Jeannette: I grew up in Ontario with my parents and 5 siblings. Neither of my parents read music – my dad could play a little harmonica, but my mom didn’t play an instrument. Somehow they scraped up enough money to buy a giant upright piano, and most of us learned piano and eventually another instrument. I always loved the sound of the flute, and I told everyone that I was going to play the flute – I used to pretend to play the flute with vacuum cleaner wands. I didn’t have band in school until high school, but I got to learn the flute between grades 7 and 8 at a summer “skill school” for 2 weeks, and that was a thrill.
Andrea: My parents were music professors at Texas Tech University (Mom, flutist – Dad, pianist). I grew up hearing wonderful music daily. Though my Dad tried to get me to become a cellist…I just loved the singing sound of the flute the most.
Becky: I grew up in a musical family where music was everywhere! I chose to play the flute (much to the disappointment of my trumpet-playing dad and brother) and knew from a pretty young age that music was essential in my life.
Rita: I didn’t grow up in a musical family, but my father had always wanted to play the piano, so he bought a piano. Fortunately, a piano teacher lived in our little town of a thousand people.
Q: The four of you performed a concert last year, was that your first time collaborating?
Jeannette: Yes, although last year was the first time the four of us did an entire concert together, we had been playing in the Flagstaff Symphony for the past 10 years. We all love to be together and admire all kinds of things about each other’s playing. We love to play Becky’s arrangements for 3 flutes – last year, she arranged the Carmen Fantasy by Borne and the Dance of the Cygnets from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. This year she has arranged the Marriage of Figaro Overture by Mozart, Blackbird by Paul McCartney, and No One is Alone from Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim.
Q: For the upcoming performance next Sunday, the program combines solo work and chamber music. Can you explain how you formed the program and what inspired you?
Becky: We programmed the concert this way for a couple of reasons. First of all, we are all passionate about chamber music and collaborating in this smaller setting. Each one of us is also featured on a solo piece. This combination allows for an exciting program that encompasses a wide variety of musical styles. For example, this concert has works from Beethoven to The Beatles! It is also happening close to Valentine’s Day, so each piece directly relates to love in some way or is by composers we love. We are excited to share this music as our Valentine’s gift to the community.
Q: The flute section has been one the most consistent in the orchestra. How has that influenced how you work together and prepare for a performance?
Andrea: With Jeannette’s excellent leadership, we are always prepared in advance for excerpts that need the most attention and a selection of recordings for listening prep. Jeannette also encourages shared ownership of our FSO section. Combined with our love of performing chamber music together, is all a positive influence on our ability to blend in tone, intonation, phrasing, and balance.
Q: We are about to wrap up season 23! What was your most memorable concert or moment during a concert this season?
Rita: Even though we perform the Nutcracker most years, it is always a highlight to play the Sugar Plum Fairy on the celeste. Last year, one of the Sugar Plum Fairy dancers was my piano student, Grace Ogden, who I started on piano when she was four years old.
Q: What do you do outside of music that excites you? Hobbies, work, family life?
Andrea: I love to travel and camp with my husband and two daughters, as well as take on the challenge of high desert gardening and take walks with my two dogs. Also, everyone in our family loves to cook, so we laugh when we are all bumping into each other in the kitchen and fighting over the spice rack. I am very fortunate to live in beautiful Flagstaff, work at NAU as a Scholarship Coordinator, and be a member of FSO!
Becky: Outside of music, I love spending time with my three girls, who are 4, 6, and 10, and my husband. We love hiking and feel so lucky to live in Flagstaff where there are so many beautiful places to explore. I also read non-stop in my free time.
Jeannette: I enjoy hiking with family and my dog!
Rita: My husband and I have two sons and three grandchildren, so we always look forward to traveling and spending time with them. Hiking, camping, and gardening are also favorite activities.
Q: Is there a favorite piece on the program?
Jeannette: Favorite piece on the program? That’s a tough one – my solo piece this year will be Après un rêve, Op. 7 No.1 from Trois mélodies by Gabriel Fauré. I guess I would have to say that will be my favorite! The depth of emotion! So mournful and beautiful!
Andrea: I love playing the Beethoven Trio on the alto flute, where I get to be the “bass player.”
Becky: No One Is Alone from Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim. I am a huge musical theater nerd, and this has always been one of my all-time favorite songs.