The Flute Academy

Fluterview with Bridget Douglas

Apr 05, 2016

Bridget is the Principal Flute of the NZSO and Artist Teacher in Flute at the New Zealand School of Music. After completing studies at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, Bridget went to New York and Chicago for further studies assisted by a Fulbright Scholarship. In the USA, Bridget won several competitions including the New York Flute Club Young Artist’s Competition and an Artists International Award, resulting in recitals at New York’s CAMI Hall and Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall respectively. She was 3rd placegetter in the Tilden Prize in New York (judging panel chaired by Jean Pierre Rampal). Bridget returned to NZ in 1997 to join the NZSO. She is also a member of the harp/flute duo Flight and the contemporary ensemble Stroma. She has released three CD’s: Syrinx French music for flute and piano; Taurangi music by New Zealand composers (both with pianist Rachel Thomson on the Trust Records label) and Flight music for flute and harp with Carolyn Mills (on the Atoll CD label). She plays in the Zephyr Wind Quintet with fellow NZSO principals. They are releasing a CD of NZ Wind Quintet music later in 2015 on the Atoll CD label. In 2011-12 Bridget went on a 12-month orchestral exchange with the Hannover Staatsoper Orchestra in Germany. During this time she also played in the NDR Radiophilharmonie and the Hamburg Staatsoper.

What do you think are your greatest achievements as a flute player?

Inspiring kids to play the flute and helping young flutists achieve their goals. Giving people enjoyment and a break from their everyday lives with my performances either in the orchestra or in solo concerts.

What do you think are the most important attributes in a student who you believe could be successful as a professional flute player?

A determination to work hard, a genuine love of music and bucketloads of talent!

Who are the flute players you find inspirational and why?

Jacques Zoon - he has a very unique approach to flute playing that I find full of character and musical integrity.
Emmanuel Pahud (Principal Flute Berlin Philharmonic) - He is effortlessly perfect and tasteful at all things flute both in the Berlin Philharmonic and as a soloist. I find it very inspirational to hear him live in performance. Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson (Principal Flute Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) - He has the most beautiful sound I've ever heard and such natural musicianship. Robert Langevin (Principal Flute New York Philharmonic) - Orchestral player extraordinaire and the most wonderful orchestral excerpt teacher.

When you’ve had some time off, how do you quickly get your playing back up to standard?

It usually takes about a week to feel back to normal after a Christmas break from playing. Lots of long tones, harmonics and scales usually do the trick!

What is the best advice you’ve ever had from a teacher?

Have long-term goals for your playing rather than trying to play everything fast and furiously too soon. Have patience and apply good technique at all times.

If you were to give a beginner flute student one piece of advice, what would it be?

Listen carefully to your teacher - if you can adopt good technical habits right from the beginning you'll progress so much faster later on. The way we hold the flute is critical in our development as a good flutist but is often detrimentally ignored by young students.

If you were to give an advanced flute student one piece of advice, what would it be?

Try and say something personal with your music. It's important to find your own sound and your own musical interpretation for each work while being guided by the expert advice of your flute teacher. Your flute playing will resonate and connect with people more if it's not just a regurgitation of someone else's playing but coming from within you.

Do you have any advice that has helped you to prevent repetitive strain injury?

The more relaxed and natural your physical approach is to flute playing the easier it is on your body. Lots of micro-breaks are important when practicing for hours in a row. I find the best way to look after both my body and mind is to exercise daily - it uses the bigger muscles in your body giving the smaller ones a break and gives me space to clear my mind.

What sort of daily exercise do you practice on the flute?

Long tones (Moyse), harmonic exercises (from the first page of Trevor Wye's 'Tone' book) and scales (Taffanel & Gaubert)

What's the funniest or weirdest thing that has ever happened to you as a professional player?

I was performing in a stage concert in Hannover (Germany) a couple of years ago and wasn't required for the first piece in the concert, just the second. I was in the greenroom below the stage chatting with other musicians and completely missed the call for the second started without me and I had to walk on at the end of the first movement and take my seat with everyone on the stage and in the audience staring at me. I was horrified!

Where are you playing in the above photos?

I'm playing the Mozart flute and harp concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) with Nicholas McGegan conducting; with Australian flutist Sally Walker; in rehearsal with Zephyr Wind Quintet (Phil Green on clarinet); taking a masterclass; and with Sting (the NZSO did a great concert with him!).

Photos courtesy Bridget Douglas

CDs featuring Bridget are available below...















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