Get to Know...Jennie Brown
It’s pretty amazing when a composer is so excited about a consortium commission that he refers flutists! That is exactly what happened with Jennie Oh Brown, who has been friends with Carter Pann since they attended Eastman together.
Jennie is a huge supporter of new music for flute, in fact one of her chamber ensembles, the Heare Ensemble, will premiere a work for flute, cello, and piano by Carter October 28th! Jennie was familiar with FNMC Composition Contest winning composers Asha Srinivasan and Shawn Okpebholo prior to joining FNMC and she performed both of their winning works on tour last year! She also performed Shawn’s winning work, On a Poem by Miho Nohaka: Harvard Square for solo flute, at the NFA Convention in Minneapolis this summer! We’re very happy to have Jennie as a member of FNMC and we look forward to her continued involvement in the organization!
Q&A with Jennie…
When did you join FNMC and what attracted you to the organization?
I joined FNMC in 2016 when my dear friend Carter Pann mentioned to me that he had been chosen for the commissioned work. It was also terrific to find out that my colleague Shawn Okpebholo won the competition for the solo flute category and that Asha Srinivasan (whose music I love) was a previous winner. It's a great organization with an incredibly worthy cause!
What advice can you give to flutists about approaching new music in practice?
I'll combine the question of favorite tools and advice about practicing to talk about some of the great technology and apps that are out there for us. I have found that my Ipad pro, Pageflip Firefly pedal, and Forscore are great tools for performing. For practicing, I use Scanner Pro and Google Drive to get scores downloaded, and I also use an Apple Pencil to mark up my scores. I rely heavily on some new apps including Tuneable, and when the crazy poly/mixed meters are too fast in tempi, I love Time Guru and TempoAdvanced.
As far as practicing skills go, when I'm preparing music with a lot of extended techniques, I approach it with more time in slow practicing than my more traditional repertoire. The reason for this is to give the music enough time to feel intuitive so you can "speak" it with some fluency and ease. I remember when I picked up Jennifer Higdon's Rapid.fire for the first time, and I was so intimidated by the multiple layers of extended techniques draped over numerous phrases. I very methodically worked on the phrase with one technique, mastering it before layering the other. Now, I've performed that piece perhaps 20 - 30 times, most recently just a couple weeks ago, and it's like that old phrase where it feels like "riding a bike." It's become a go-to piece when I need a showstopper and because of my initial investment in careful practice, the technical aspects of the piece have stayed in my fingers.
Do you have any upcoming events that you would like our friends and followers to know about?
(Provide any web or video URL you would like to share.)
The center of my performing life revolves around my role as Artistic Director of a fabulous chamber ensemble of elite musicians Picosa. Please visit our website at PicosaMusic.com to hear about upcoming events. (Editor's Note: Check out this video for more about the ensemble.)
I am also particularly excited about three upcoming concerts. The first one will be performing the premiere of an absolutely gorgeous trio for flute, cello, and piano by Carter Pann and commissioned by SDG Music Foundation which is incredibly rich and indulgent, like the musical version of the world's best chocolate. Secondly, I'll be celebrating the opening of our new concert hall and music building at Wheaton College with three consecutive faculty recitals with two of my colleagues. Third, I'll be performing Joel Puckett's Shadow of Sirius with the Elmhurst College Wind Ensemble in the Spring. For more information about my performances, please visit JennieBrownFlute.com
More About Jennie…
Jennie Brown is flutist and artistic director of Picosa and recording artist with Innova Recordings. Her album of the music of Joseph Schwantner was released in 2015. She teaches at Elmhurst and Wheaton Colleges and is director and faculty member of Credo Flute. DMA/MM/PC Eastman, BM Northwestern, HS Interlochen Arts Acad. JennieBrownFlute.com