Gina Luciani (USA)
Gina Luciani is described as “One of those amazing young flutists who has all the musical bases covered” by Jim Walker and “A leading flutist of her generation, who embodies the essence of intelligent, energetic and sophisticated musicality,” by Laurel Anne Maurer. An avid freelance musician in Southern California, Gina performs frequently in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings and can be heard on many recordings.
Ms. Luciani has performed as a soloist with the Colburn Contemporary Players, Utah Valley Symphony, Long Beach Mozart Festival, and the Salt Lake Symphony. This past summer, she was a featured soloist in the Miyazawa’s showcase entitled “Rising Stars” at the National Flute Convention held in Las Vegas. She was a featured soloist with the Colburn Chamber Music Society and a guest artist for the Utah Youth Symphony Orchestras and Ensembles “Alumni Recital Series.” In addition, she has played with many legendary artists such as Kenneth Cooper, Mike Garson, Ronald Leonard, and Jim Walker.
Gina is currently one of the principal flutists of the University of Southern California Thornton Symphony, flutist of the American Youth Symphony and USC Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the piccoloist of the YMF Debut Orchestra. Gina has also been the principal flutist of the Colburn Orchestra, Colburn Outreach Orchestra, Los Angeles - St. Petersburg Russian String Orchestra, and the Utah Chamber Chorale. Gina had the honor of performing in the orchestra for the opening concert of the 2012 Piatigorsky International Cello Festival.
In April, 2012, Gina was the Top Prize Winner of the San Diego Flute Guild’s Artist Gold Competition. Previously she was the winner of the UMTA Young Artist Competition, the Utah Valley Symphony's Young Artist Competition, and Grand Prize Winner of the Long Beach Mozart Festival Concerto Competition. She was awarded the Fe Bland and Santa Barbara Foundation Award of Merit for two consecutive years; she was a two-time winner of both the Utah Flute Association’s Sonata Night and Concerto Night; and she achieved superior ratings all twelve years she participated at the National Federation of Music Competition.
Ms. Luciani is an active chamber music performer and has performed extensively with her ensembles throughout Southern California. Her flute and guitar duo won first prize in the Pacific Guitar Festival Competition and performed for the Sunday’s Live Series at LACMA, which was broadcast on KUSC. Recently, she performed the world premiere of Emmy-winning composer Stephen Cohn’s “Sea Change” for wind quintet. Her flute and harp duo has commissioned multiple new works for their ensemble as firm supporters of new music. They are currently completing their first album, which will be released by the end of the year.
Gina received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Flute Performance from the Colburn Conservatory of Music. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music Degree in Flute Performance at the University of Southern California under the continued instruction of Jim Walker.
Gina Luciani (USA)
We had the opportunity to ask Gina a few questions. Click on the link to hear her thoughts on preparation for auditions, recording and performing with commercial artists such as Kate Nash and Glee as well as advice for upcoming flutists.
1. How did you decide to start playing flute?
When I was really young I went to a music store with my mom who was going to buy some piano music. I saw the tiny violins for little kids and told her I wanted to play violin. When she was looking into lessons for me, I was watching my favorite movie, “The Little Mermaid,” and asked her what the instrument was that Prince Eric played in the movie. When she told me that it was a flute, I immediately changed my mind about playing violin and started flute lessons.
2. You have performed with the Wu-Tang Clan at Coachella, recorded with commercial artists such as Kate Nash, performed on Glee, High School Musical 3, and Teen Wolf, as well as recorded for many soundtracks for films, in addition to other exciting projects. How did these opportunities come about?
I have been called for all of these different gigs in completely different ways. Most of the time it is through word of mouth and/or networking. You always hear that you should be nice to people you work with and “if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say it at all.” I truly believe in that statement. There are people that I now work with that I met in high school; back then I would have never dreamed that I would ever see them again. Mistakes made in the past will come back to haunt you, so it’s very important to not burn any bridges.
Also, I treat every gig I have like an audition, whether it’s a performance, recording, or anything else (no matter how “important” I think it is). I always give every job one hundred and ten percent. You never know who is going to hear you. In the future, a person you worked with may be in a position to hire you or someone else asks them for a referral. They can either want to work with you again or not depending on how well you did at the earlier gig.
Finally, it’s really important to be a “team player” as my teacher at both the Colburn Conservatory of Music and the University of Southern California, Jim Walker, would say. It’s always so much better to work with someone who is pleasant to be around and who is easy to work with.
3. What are your upcoming plans with your Flute and Harp Duo and your Flute and Guitar Duo?
The Hyperion Duo, my flute and harp duo with the extremely talented Charissa Barger, has a broad range of projects that we work on. As firm supporters of new music, we already have performed and recorded two pieces that we commissioned in 2012. We have three new pieces that were commissioned this year that we are currently working on which will be recorded soon and premiered at the end of the summer. Besides our commissions, we play many recitals in many types of venues, from recital halls and donor events, to playing a set at an LA night club. Outreach and sharing our music with the younger generation is incredibly important to us, so we play many children’s concerts. Our next recital will be in August as part of a new concert series that the Young Musicians Foundation is starting.
This year my flute and guitar duo, with the wonderful guitarist Mak Grgic, was chosen for the Gluck Fellowship Program, which gave us the opportunity to perform fourteen recitals at different outreach venues all across Los Angeles. I found these performances to be especially rewarding as I could see that we were really helping people through our music. We have also played at events for the University of Southern California and the Thornton School of Music. We perform a wide variety of repertoire, including everything from our own arrangements of Bach Flute Sonatas to contemporary pieces. For the remainder of this year, we will be recording as well as playing recitals throughout the West Coast.
4. You currently perform in many groups including the Debut Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony as well as chamber groups. How differently do you approach your playing when in the orchestra vs. your flute/guitar and/or flute/harp duo?
I think that one of the biggest differences of playing with an orchestra vs. playing with a small ensemble is the amount of freedom that you have. As part of a duo, you are able to pick your own music, decide the rehearsal schedule, make your own musical decisions within the music, and choose which concerts you do. As part of an orchestra, you still try to be artistic in your playing, but ultimately the conductor has the say and you can’t tell the maestro, “I want there to be a rit. here,” or “this is the tempo I’d like to take.” Obviously, the music, rehearsal schedule, and concerts are all chosen ahead of time. Both types of ensembles are so different and provide unique challenges. It’s sometimes a relief that you don’t have to make all the decisions and plan so much with an orchestra concert! It is so thrilling to be part of a large orchestra and feel the unity even though there are a lot of people involved. With a duo it is much more of an intimate setting and it’s really incredible once you get to a point that you can just sense what the other person is going to do while in a performance.
5. As a winner in many competitions and auditions, how do you go about preparing for an important performance/audition? How do you conquer nerves?
While preparing for performances and auditions I make sure to learn the music far in advance and organize a practice schedule. I like to be performance/audition ready at least two weeks ahead of the date.
As far as nerves go, I’ve gone through phases. I started playing flute when I was really young, and back then, I never got nervous. I remember seeing the older kids getting extremely nervous before a performance and I really didn’t understand why. Once I started high school, I then started to get pretty nervous before a performance. That continued half way into my undergrad. A turning point for me is when I tackled my performance anxiety head on. I asked myself why I was so nervous. Once I figured that out and learned what worked for me to calm myself down (never playing on an empty stomach, meditation, visualization of the performance or audition beforehand) I actually was able to pretty much overcome my nerves. Of course there are still times that I will be more nervous than others, but by finding out what works for me, I will be able to keep my nerves in check.
6. What does a typical day look like for you?
As a musician, I really don’t have a "typical" day. I will have anything from rehearsals, class, or lessons to performances, or recording sessions. It always seems to come in waves though. For awhile I’ll be extremely busy and then all of a sudden I won’t have anything for a short amount of time. I find it important to make sure to keep in shape when I have time off!
7. How do you approach daily practice? Do you have a specific routine you use?
I always begin with a warm up. I typically like to practice in the early afternoon because that’s when I find that I am the most alert and I get the most done. I don’t like to make myself practice for a certain amount of hours. Instead, I set myself deadlines. For example, I’ll know I need to thoroughly learn a certain amount of pages in a piece. That might take a half hour, or it might take five hours. If I finish quickly and want to do more, of course I’ll work on other things, but I find that practicing this way keeps me focused on accomplishing goals rather than how many more minutes I have left to practice.
8. What are your plans after graduation and/or what are your career goals?
One thing that I’ve realized in the past couple of years is how much I really enjoy doing a lot of different things with my music. I don’t think I would be happy just doing one thing all of the time. I plan on having orchestra, chamber music, solo recitals, and recording as part of my career.
A project that I’ve been working on this spring that I’m very excited about is my first solo CD. It will be released at the end of the year. I’m so lucky to be collaborating with the incredible pianist, James Lent, on this project! I chose a lot of pieces that each mean something special to me. I have recorded many contrasting styles of music, which I think that the listeners will enjoy. I will be releasing a single this May on Itunes, which will be the Hue Fantaisie.
9. How did you come to choose Miyazawa as your flute of choice?
I am now playing my second Miyazawa flute. Originally I decided on my first Miyazawa flute based on recommendations from my long time teacher and mentor, Laurel Ann Maurer, who is also a Miyazawa Artist. I acquired my current flute three years ago after an extensive search process. After trying several flutes from many different makers, my Miyazawa flute was the clear winner. The projection and clarity of sound could not be beat and the tone color was unsurpassed. I am very pleased with the beauty and quality of both of my flutes. They have truly facilitated my growth as an artist.
10. If you had one piece of advice to give for an upcoming flutist, what would you tell them?
One thing that is becoming more and more clear is that there is no one way to develop a career in music. It is important to find your own path and your own passions when carving out your career. Also, it is very rare for someone to just be handed a career. You have to make your own opportunities in order to succeed.