Rediscover the sound of 20th Century France in Michelle Batty Stanley’s NOUVELLE VIE: A REDISCOVERY OF FRENCH FLUTE MUSIC. Partnering with pianist Margaret McDonald and Navona Records, Michelle breathes new life into the music of the past, featuring old favorites as well as introducing us to lesser known works.
Today, Michelle is our next featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to hear about when gunfire interrupted her performance…
Who was your first favorite artist growing up?
Michael Jackson was the artist that I first remember completely swooning over. I had posters of him all over my walls. I tuned in to MTV to watch his new videos (and maybe shed a few tears). My friends and I even had a party to watch the release of the Thriller video. There was something about the whole package he had that I just loved. He was the ultimate performer. I was captivated by his singing, dancing and his ability to totally entertain.
I should also mention that my favorite flutist was William Bennett and still is. His sound continues to be magical to me. His expressive playing and command of musical ideas is wildly inspiring.
If you could do any job in the world and make a living at it, what would that be?
I would be a museum curator or art restorer. I was an art minor in college and still spend some of my spare time visiting art museums, reading about art, looking at art online, watching videos of art restoration, and buying art when I can. The idea of art restoration is intriguing because it feeds my love of antiques, history, and the visual arts in general. I think all artists fantasize about having another job. The job of a performing artist isn’t one that can be turned off and the idea of obsessing about something new is appealing to me.
What was your most unusual performance?
In 2004 I was performing The Life In a Day by Cherise Leiter, a Colorado composer and winner of the MTNA composition award for that year’s state conference. Cellist Yoriko Moritam, guitarist Alex Komodore, and I went to Grandby, Colorado to premiere the work for the conference.
As we began to perform, we started to hear gunfire from far away. Throughout the 18 minute piece we heard more and more shots then started to hear activity outside the hotel. When the performance concluded we went outside to find SWAT, police, fire engines, and ambulances assembling in the parking lots of the conference center as they set up their command post. Apparently, there was a man who created a very large fortified tank and he had a pretty big dispute (in his mind) with the town. He was driving his tank through town, running over the mayor’s home and other town buildings and shooting at anything he didn’t like. Luckily, no one was hurt!
I tried to convince the composer and my fellow musicians to climb a hill nearby to watch but they would hear none of it. I still wish we had stayed to watch – but instead, we went to Winter Park to have pizza.
Was there a piece on your album that you found more difficult to perform than the others?
The Sonata No. 1 by Phillipe Gaubert was a daunting piece to record. It’s well loved, often recorded and very well known flutists. I think that in order to record something that has been recorded before, you must have something new to say or you must have experiences playing the piece that you feel are completely unique to your style of playing. As I mentioned, I have a total love of French flute music and I couldn’t not record one of my favorites, the Sonata and Madrigal of Gaubert. I’m hoping that love shines through, as that is why I wanted to record it. The Madrigal by Gaubert was assigned to every freshman in my studio in college and I hope that I can do it justice for my teacher here.
What does this album mean to you personally?
After my first recording came out, I said I wouldn’t record an album again. Isn’t that what new mothers say after childbirth? – “not doing that again!” But here I am. It’s the music that really spoke to me this time. I was so excited to play through this book of charming, capitivating, fun, and otherwise unknown works for the flute. I knew that there were treasures here that had never been recorded. It is an honor to be the first to share some of the gems from this collection that Martha Rearick put together.
This album is one I’ve wanted to create for a long time. As a professor, I love exposing new music to my students and this album does that. It also feeds my total obsession with French flute music. There were so many early 20th Century French composers who were masterful in their writing for the flute. The use of color, time, and expression are not only totally fun to play, but they are great learning tools for my students. I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to share this new music with my students and flute players everywhere.
Nouvelle Vie is now available for streaming on purchase. Click here to explore this new album.