flute

For a full bio, please click the link in the menu above. However, and enjoyable though it always is to write about myself in the third person, I wanted to keep the rest of the site a little more informal, for anyone who might be interested in any part of what I do.

I've included audio and video links, where available, on each of the respective sections. I hope you enjoy reading, watching and listening, or some combination of the three!

Flute playing is a serious business.

I was one of many musicians to start their instrument at an early age, but as a competitive young flautist, I was motivated more by trying to win local competitions than by the music itself.

In my late teens, however, I spent a term studying Mozart’s K.488 Piano Concerto as part of my classroom music lessons, and nobody exposed to the magic and charm of that piece can resist it for long. I played an approximation of the first movement with my school’s orchestra as a high school student, and before long I was devouring Mozart’s music – especially the operas – and collecting CDs with a total lack of foresight for the decline of the medium.

I went to university to study French, but after a little encouragement from a volunteer at the Freshers’ Fair I signed up for an audition to the university’s orchestral society, and over the years I ended up playing for them and eventually conducting them, tackling big orchestral hits like the fifth symphonies of Beethoven, Sibelius & Shostakovich. My love for everything orchestral was cemented.

Thanks to the incredible teaching and guidance of Michael Cox, to whom I’m more indebted than I can adequately express, I managed to win a place to study flute at the Royal Academy of Music on the Master’s programme, and improved rapidly whilst there, spurred on by the excellence and support of my incredibly talented colleagues in the flute department. My final recital went surprisingly well and won me the DipRAM performance diploma. I met another great teacher, Ransom Wilson, at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and successfully applied to study with him at the Yale School of Music in the USA as an Artist Diploma student.

I stayed and freelanced on the East Coast of the US for another five years, playing more performances of the Nutcracker ballet than I care to remember, working with groups such as the Delphi Chamber Orchestra, Uptown Philharmonic Orchestra and Contemporaneous, and with the conductors Peter Oundjian and John Adams.

Since coming back to the UK, I've had the good fortune of performing with the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, most recently as second flute in a fantastic all-Beethoven programme.

Teaching has always played a hugely important part in my career, and from mentoring beginner students in a New York middle school band programme to instructing advanced Yale University undergraduate students, I bring a wide variety of experience, but above all an inextinguishable enthusiasm for the music I play, in the hope that my students will carry the torch throughout their own musical lives.

favourite moments

One of my fondest memories as an orchestral flute player was to perform as principal in New York's Avery Fisher Hall, alongside some great friends and colleagues, with the inimitable John Adams and the Brentano String Quartet. My pride at playing in this important venue for the first time took a slight knock when it was renamed almost immediately afterwards!

It's always fun when you get to play one of the standard flute excerpts in orchestra for the first time, and I had that opportunity with one of my favorite conductors, Peter Oundjian, as he conducted Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphoses. It's a piece I've conducted myself but this was my first shot at the beautiful, extended flute solo in the third movement:

More recently, it was an honour to be part of a performance with legendary Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. It was my first concert with the wonderful musicians of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, and I was particularly concerned that my piccolo playing wouldn't cause so much offence as to prevent them hiring me again. It was with some relief, therefore, that I reached the end of the concerto, having played sufficiently plausibly, and was able to enjoy Kissin's famous encores. He only played three (!) on this occasion, though we had the sense the audience could have carried on listening to him all night.

recital stream

Recital Stream is an online performance platform that I founded shortly after lockdown was introduced in the UK in March 2020. It was my way of feeling useful during a period of enormous anxiety for everyone involved in the entertainment sector across the world. After stellar recitals from baroque specialists Alana Youssefian, Keiran Campbell and Chloe Fedor, I thought I'd better step up and do one of my own. These two extracts, of Debussy's famous Syrinx and Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson's riotous Oslo Reel are taken directly from the livestream, which was transmitted in as high a video quality as my rural internet connection could cope with (which is to say, not very).

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© 2020 Jonathan Slade 

Jonathan Slade

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