Spotlight on the Faculty, Part 2

"Know the Score" is the official blog of the Luther College Music Department. Students, faculty, and staff provide content on music tours, concerts, recitals and scholarship happening on and away from Luther's Decorah, Iowa campus.

Students are moved in, auditions are happening, lockers are being checked out, and the stage lights are warming up. It's time to point a couple of those spotlights on Part 2 of our Spotlight on the Faculty.

Two weeks ago, we talked to Du Huang, Kylie Toomer, and Benjamin Yates. This week Eric Kutz (cello), Karen Kanakis (voice, opera) and Carol Hester (flute) give us their takes on practicing, outlook on the upcoming academic year, and their dream performance spaces. We hope you're as inspired by their answers as we are!

(By the way, be sure to check out the Music Faculty Showcase Recital in the Center for Faith and Life on Sunday, September 8 at 4 pm.)

 

Eric Kutz   ERIC KUTZ - Associate Professor of Music

Q: What are you most excited about for the 2013-2014 school year?

A: The great combination of working with my students and performing with my colleagues.

Q: What piece are you most looking forward to personally working on this school year?

A: Mozart Divertimento (string trio) for our faculty performance in October. One of the most virtuosic cello parts of any composition from that era--a glimpse into what a Mozart cello concerto could have been.

Q: List your top practice strategies.

A: Practice must start with a mental image of the desired end product. From there, identify the impediments between your ideal mental version of the piece and what you are currently obtaining. Separate problems and define difficulties--are the problems left hand, bow, shifting, within the position? By clearly understanding the problem we have already the first step towards its solution.

Q: Favorite place you've performed?

A: It is impossible to separate my feelings about the acoustical properties of a place from its emotional associations. One of my favorite places to perform in an orchestra is my summer home, the Pritzker Pavillion in Chicago's Millennium Park. Having performed more than 250 concerts there, I have gotten to know it like few other places. Last spring my wife and I went on tour as a duo, and that made me so appreciative of the wonderful Noble Recital Hall we have here at Luther, and the great Steinway in that hall. Many universities would be envious of that combination.

Q: Place where you'd love to perform someday (real or imagined)?

A: The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. A legendary hall in a diverse and cosmopolitan city!

 

Karen Kanakis   KAREN KANAKIS - Associate Professor of Music

Q: What are you most excited about for the 2013-2014 school year?

A: Co-directing Fall Opera Scenes with Dr. Lassetter, and going on sabbatical for a research project in the spring.

Q: What piece are you most looking forward to personally working on this school year?

A: I'm excited to be working on a collaborative recital between some members of the Luther music faculty and members of the University of Northern Iowa music faculty. We'll be doing a program of Verdi opera scenes that will be performed at both schools in the fall.

Q: List your top practice strategies.

A:

  1. Practice every day even if you don't feel like it (you'll feel better after you're done).
  2. Have an agenda for every practice session. Set small goals that you know you can accomplish.
  3. Allow yourself to sing a piece all the way through without stopping at the end of every practice session, like you are in a performance.

Q: Favorite place you've performed?

A: Carnegie Hall, NYC

Q: Place where you'd love to perform someday (real or imagined)?

A: The Metropolitan Opera, NYC

 

Carol Hester   CAROL HESTER - Professor of Music

Q: What are you most excited about for the 2013-2014 school year?

A: It is always exciting to begin the year with a new class of flute students. And of course I love welcoming back the returning flute students and hearing about their summer adventures. Also, I've been granted a sabbatical for the Spring semester that I find exciting. I will be studying to become a licensed Andover Educator; basically, Andover Educators help musicians understand how the body is designed to move in order to enhance performance and avoid injury. We use a principal called Body Mapping, which deals with the brain's representation of the body in motion. I'll be studying a great deal of anatomy and taking lessons from Body Mapping specialists; my primary goal is to help our Luther flutists perform with greater freedom, ease, and expressiveness.

Q: What piece are you most looking forward to personally working on this school year?

A: This is difficult to answer--I enjoy working on a variety of pieces. Right now, I'm working on a Trio Sonata by J.S. Bach (always a favorite), a beautiful piece for flute and harp by William Alwyn, and a fascinating piece for solo flute by Harvey Sollberger with incorporates extended techniques. I'm principal flutist of the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, and our season includes works by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Verdi, Wagner, and Prokofiev. It will be a busy year!

Q: List your top practice strategies.

A: I can be fairly methodical, so I like to balance this tendency by practicing as creatively as I can. I love exploring forms and shapes, and I am especially intrigued by the tone color of the flute. I focus not just on the notes and rhythms, but on how these can combine to form beautiful phrases. Articulation drills are part of my daily practice--I view articulation as incredibly important for musical communication. I also find that practicing backwards (literally!) improves my technique. I like to have fun when I practice, so I'll try practically anything.

Q: Favorite place you've performed?

A: The Grand Canyon! I hiked into part of the canyon with my flute and stopped and played it along the way. Being in that setting, surrounded by the beauty of God's world (He is the ultimate Artist) encourages me to persevere in the art of playing the flute.

Q: Place where you'd love to perform someday (real or imagined)?

A: Well, I wouldn't mind getting to play in some other stunning locations like the Grand Canyon. And if I'm using my imagination, I'd love to play somewhere in outer space--though I'd have to overcome some intense motion sickness to reach that goal.