Susan Hoeppner’s latest recording, American Flute Masterpieces (Marquis), has been nominated for a Juno Award in the best solo or chamber ensemble category. That’s no surprise; it’s excellent. What’s surprising is that this is Hoeppner’s first Juno nomination.
Widely recognized as one of Canada’s top flutists, Hoeppner has a dozen recordings to her credit, and has maintained a busy international concert schedule for more than two decades.
Hoeppner agreed to answer some of CBC Music’s questions.
Q: What does it mean to be nominated for a Juno Award at this stage of your career?
A: This is a total honour. At this stage, it is an appreciated validation for the efforts, struggles and successes I've had all these years.
Q: It's a bit ironic that your first Juno Award nomination has been for an album of American music. What inspired you to record this repertoire?
A: The pieces by Burton, Muczynski, Barber and Copland have been favourites of mine since their introduction by my teacher, Julius Baker, in my early Juilliard years. The works by Corigliano and Liebermann I learned later, and have become just as special.
Listen Listen to flutist Susan Hoeppner and pianist Lydia Wong play the first movement from Eldin Burton's Sonatina.
Q: American music aside, you have worked regularly with some of Canada's leading composers on new music for your instrument. What have those collaborations meant to you over the years?
A: It is an enormous pleasure. I've had the honour of working with Oskar Morawetz, Srul Irving Glick and most recently Christos Hatzis, who wrote an outstanding flute concerto for me. These are treasured times to gain insight into their thought processes. It’s invaluable, really, to portray their music as they meant it to be and want it to be.
Q: At Juilliard, you studied with Julius Baker, probably the best-known flutist in modern times. What approach did he take? Do you carry his method forward with your own students at the U of T?
A: Julius Baker's approach was to encourage each student's individuality, to always play the musical line. He was a stickler for every note, technically and musically and because of this I believe my attention to detail is so microscopic. I probably quote him every day, whether to my students, in a master class setting or to myself. He has been an enormous influence in my life, musically and personally, and I am still very close to his family in New York.
Q: What three composers have written the best music for flute?
A: In my very humble opinion, I would say 1) Bach, 2) Mozart and 3) Debussy. (This is an extremely difficult question! I could name 50 more!)
Q: Blue sky time: Name three musicians you admire and would love to perform with some day.
A: 1) Emmanuel Pahud, 2) Jon Kimura Parker and 3) Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Q: What are the last five pieces/songs you listened to on your MP3 player?
A: 1) Bjork’s “Possibly Maybe,” 2) Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5, 3) Sting’s “A Thousand Years,” 4) Terra Hazelton’s “Coffee in the Morning” and 5) Beach waves crashing (Sleep app!).
Q: There is some serious competition in your Juno category. How do you feel about your chances?
A: This is just a shot in the dark: one out of five?
Q: What should we listen for in your American Flute Masterpieces album?
A: Simply put, music.
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