Our Principal Flutist Stephanie Jutt has been performing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra since 1990. Stephanie holds the Terry Family Foundation Chair. This Q&A is part of our Home Is Where the Art Is series of artist stories featuring our musicians.
“I love all kinds of music, but symphonic music and chamber music are my favorites,” she said. “I have been missing the symphony very much and I hope we are all together again soon!”
When did you first start playing your musical instrument?
10 years old
What stories come to mind that led to your choice to make music a focus in your life?
I fell in love with the symphony orchestra in my home town and attended symphony concerts from a very early age. I loved the sound of the flute from the very beginning and couldn’t wait until I was old enough to start learning to play. As a toddler, I listened to Peter and the Wolf, and loved that flute solo, and then at San Francisco Ballet, the Nutcracker was full of gorgeous flute solos. I was already hooked!
Who was most influential in shaping your talent and inspiring your passion for music and your instrument?
I would count my earliest flute teacher, who was principal flutist in the symphony in my home town, and also the Leonard Bernstein broadcasts for children, which I watched many, many times on television. I was so lucky to have one of the greatest conductors in the world as my teacher!
What was the most important lesson you learned from a teacher or mentor?
How do you prepare for concert rehearsals?
By listening to the composition with a score and studying my part in the context of the whole orchestra, so I know what my “role” is at any given moment. And then, of course, lots of repetition and practicing long phrases for breath control.
Describe the things you do to warm up before rehearsal.
Play beautiful slow melodies, play technical exercises, very slow, for flexibility and also articulation exercises so the fast passages will sound easy.
What are your routines leading up to a concert performance?
I usually take a nap in the afternoon for about an hour if I can, and I avoid eating much, especially not anything spicy!
Tell us about what you most love to do outside of your career as a musician.
I love to read, I’m an avid bird-watcher, and a hiker.
What do your daily or weekly routines look like these days?
I try to get up at the normal time (!), get dressed, make the bed, have a coffee, and then decide what to practice that day. Right now I am working on editing a group of etudes for an international publisher, and I am also practicing all the J.S. Bach cello suites in transcriptions. Bach is always my go-to composer for solitary work. It never gets old.
At night, I play a fifteen minute concert for the residents above and below my floor in my apartment building. People open their doors and listen – I’ve been playing through everything I know for unaccompanied flute! I’m also reading all the books by Oliver Sachs.
What are you watching and cooking during this time?
Shstisel, Unorthodox, Ozark, My Brilliant Friend, Killing Eve, Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren, Catherine the Great with Helen Mirren, Oh Brother Where Art Thou and all the Aldomovar movies, like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown! I’ve learned to make some very cool exotic cocktails, like the Aviation!
What music are you listening to for personal enjoyment?
Oh my — lots of Mahler! Also fun dance music, all the Buena Vista Social Club music by Cuban musicians, and old folk music by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and John Renbourn.