Kim Lewis is a celebrated flutist and passionate performer and educator. Having received numerous honors for her playing, she can be seen performing regularly in orchestras and chamber ensembles in the New York City area. As an educator, she works with flutists of all ages in a variety of settings, and is especially sought after for her work with young flutists. A recent collaboration with the Manhattan School of Music saw her reach students both locally and around the country.
Returning as a soloist with The Chelsea Symphony on Saturday, June 25th, Kim will perform Otar Gordeli’s sparkling Flute Concertino. In anticipation of the performance, we reached out to her for a behind-the-scenes Q&A session.
The Chelsea Symphony: How did you come to choose your instrument?
Kim Lewis: My parents were both musicians and music teachers, and my brother and I were both involved in a lot of musical activities growing up. I was already involved in dance and took piano and vocal lessons, and knew that band would be a part of my activities when the time came in 5th grade. I have a memory of going to my brother’s band concert and surveying the group, and just knowing that flute was for me! I was lucky enough to already have a foundation of music knowledge from learning piano, and parents that had access to band instruments. My mom brought me home a flute and I got a head start!
TCS: What has been your proudest moment or moments in music so far?
KL: At the end of my undergraduate degree, my flute professor encouraged me to do a competition that happened to be the day before my senior recital, located at a school that was a 2 hour drive away. I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off, and was worried that I would wear myself out before my recital. However, I did the competition, and I won! It was the first competition that I ever won (and the concerto that I’m performing with TCS was one of the pieces I played!) I drove back home and played a successful senior recital the next day, surrounded by family and friends. It was a wonderful way to cap off my senior year, and helped me to push beyond what I believed I was capable of and succeed.
TCS: When was your first TCS concert? What brought you to the group?
KL: My first TCS concert was the final concert of the 2015-2016 season, playing Mahler Symphony No. 1. I’m sure I came to the group in a similar way to many others - I had a flutist friend who had been involved with TCS and could not play that concert, and gave them my name. At the time, I was in the middle of my master’s degree, so I was thankful to be able to play with TCS and get even more orchestral experience. I’ve played with TCS as often as possible since then!
TCS: Do you have any favorite TCS memories?
KL: One of my favorite TCS memories was going to play for inmates at Rikers Island! It was such an eye-opening and impactful day, and I was so grateful to be involved.
TCS: What keeps you coming back to play with TCS?
KL: There are several things that keep me coming back to TCS! I love being able to play major staples of the orchestral repertoire while also exploring new works. I also appreciate the system that TCS has in place to allow its members to perform as soloists - a rare opportunity and amazing experience as one advances in their career as a musician. And of course, the group itself! We take our performances seriously while still maintaining a sense of fun and freedom during rehearsals.
TCS: What do you do to set yourself up for success on the day of an important performance?
KL: On the day of an important performance, I like to make sure I have the day clear if I can. I like to do a slow, intentional warm up early in the day to set myself up, focusing on tone and breathing, which also helps to calm any nerves that may be starting to build. I also try to give myself plenty of time to get ready and make myself feel beautiful for the performance! Lastly, I make sure I have water and enough to eat so I am not hungry, and fueled to perform!
TCS: Why did you choose to perform this piece with TCS?
KL: I learned this piece during my undergraduate degree, and performed it for several concerto competitions. Though I made the finals, I did not win the competition, and did not get to play the piece with orchestra. This is my second time playing a solo with TCS, and the piece had the potential to fit nicely with the theme of the season. I’ve always wanted to play this piece with an orchestra, and now I finally get the chance!
TCS: What are some things you learned while preparing? Did anything about the piece surprise you?
KL: Because I learned the piece so long ago and played it so much, I feel like I know it like the back of my hand. Even though I have progressed so much as a flutist since the last time I played it, I noticed old playing habits creeping in while bringing the piece back up to speed. It was humbling to trip over those old stumbling blocks again, but affirming to be able to bring myself up and over those blocks in ways I couldn’t before.
TCS: Do you have a favorite recording of this piece?
KL: Actually, there are not many official recordings of this piece! You can find some recordings of live performances with orchestra on Youtube, but it is difficult to find commercial recordings. One of the live performances on Youtube is by Christina Jennings, who is the flute professor and University of Colorado, Boulder. I was lucky enough to take a lesson with her and work on this piece! She had many interesting interpretations and helped to shape some of my musical decisions in the piece.
Join us at 8pm on Saturday, June 25th at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music at 450 West 37th Street for Kim’s performance of Gordeli’s Flute Concertino!