Nicole Schroeder Raimato is a multifaceted flutist in the truest sense. She performs regularly in orchestras for symphonies, operas, theater, and ballet, and not only on flute–she also performs on pennywhistle, dizi, ocarina, panflute, recorder, and of course, piccolo. In addition to performing, she teaches both as a private instructor and faculty member at various schools, and serves on the boards of the New York Flute Club and New Jersey Flute Society.
On Sunday, June 26th, Nicole will perform Gabriela Lena Frank’s rumination on fairy tales and indigeneity, Will-o’-the-Wisp in her TCS soloist debut. In anticipation of the performance, we reached out to Nicole for a behind-the-scenes Q&A session.
The Chelsea Symphony: How did you come to choose your instrument?
Nicole Schroeder Raimato: In 4th grade, my school had an assembly where the band played and they showed us what the different instruments sounded like. I couldn’t choose…I wanted to play everything! (If you know me, you know that I’m incredibly indecisive.) Also being very shy, I didn’t want to play anything that would make me stand out too much, and most of the other girls were picking the flute, so I picked the flute, too. I guess I got over some of that fear of sticking out, since I now play the piccolo as much as I play the flute!
TCS: Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
NSR: My dad plays piano and guitar, my mom was always singing around the house, three of my older brothers played instruments in the school band, and the fourth one played the stereo (very loudly), so music was always present growing up. I think the experience that confirmed that I wanted to pursue a career in music, though, was the first time I performed in the pit for a musical. My former flute teacher recommended me to play in a local production of Cats when I was in college, and I had a blast. I kept thinking, “I would do this for free, but they’re PAYING me!”
TCS: What has been your proudest moment or moments in music so far?
NSR: Bouncing back after a major surgery in 2013 and performing solo a month later, playing a concerto at Carnegie Hall in 2014, and playing on Broadway for the first time in Wicked.
TCS: What have been the biggest challenges of your career so far?
NSR: COVID has certainly been one of them…it was hard to go an entire year without playing music in real-time with another human, but I made lemonade by using the extra time to learn new things, perform Zoom concerts for seniors, and grow my private studio.
TCS: When was your first TCS concert? What brought you to the group?
NSR: My first concert was at Rikers Island in May of 2017. I was subbing in for a friend who couldn’t make it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had never even met anyone in the group before. Yet, the concert went well and the experience was very moving and a lot of fun. I knew then that TCS was not like other orchestras!
TCS: Do you have any favorite TCS memories?
NSR: That first concert at Rikers, as well as meeting Mark Blum on the set of Mozart in the Jungle. Sadly, Mark passed away from COVID-19 in 2020.
TCS: What do you carry with you in your instrument case?
NSR: Boring but important things: cleaning rod and cloth, pad-cleaning papers, a pencil, and earplugs!
TCS: Why did you choose to perform this piece with TCS?
NSR: I knew I wanted to play a piece on piccolo, rather than flute, and that I wanted to play something other than the standard Vivaldi and Liebermann piccolo concertos. Inspired by TCS’s mission, I tried to find a work by a living composer. I knew of Gabriela Lena Frank’s music because the New York Flute Club recently commissioned her to write Five Andean Improvisations for their centennial, and I loved the piece. When I saw Will-o’-the-Wisp on her website, things fell into place. I love programmatic music and knowing the story behind the piece made me want to learn it even more!
TCS: What are some things you learned while preparing? Did anything about the piece surprise you?
NSR: The most surprising thing was probably the “piano” marking under the high G# in the first movement! This is a very difficult note on the piccolo to begin with, let alone to play softly…I will be forever striving for the perfect piano high G#!
Join us at 2pm on Sunday, June 26th at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music at 450 West 37th Street for Nicole’s performance of Will-o’-the-Wisp!