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Performs On:

Boston Classic RH-14k Gold flute with Silver Keys and Brögger System™

Website:

usafband.af.mil

Artist Bio

Stacy Newbrough Ascione


Stacy Newbrough Ascione is an accomplished professional flutist in the Washington D.C. and surrounding areas, originally hailing from Iowa City, IA. She is an active freelance musician who has performed regularly in ensembles such as the Prince William Symphony Orchestra, the Maryland Choral Society Orchestra, the Solano Symphony Orchestra, the Garland Symphony Orchestra, and the East Texas Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Ascione's musical experiences have led her across the globe, performing in the 48 contiguous United States and nine countries. She has played under the batons of such notable conductors as Valery Gergiev, Victor Yampolsky, Anshel Brusilow, Eugene Corporon, Larry Rachleff, Mallory Thompson, and Robert Boudreau. She has had a wide range of musical experiences encompassing performances in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Tanglewood, the Mariinsky Theatre, the Hermitage, St. Basil's Cathedral and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Additionally, Stacy has been a repeat performer at several music conventions including the National Flute Association National Convention, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the Texas Music Educators Association Clinic, the Concert Band Directors National Association Convention, and the American Choral Directors Association National Convention.

As well as being an active flutist, Stacy is an avid piccolo performer. She won the National Flute Association's Piccolo Masterclass Competition in 1995, and was invited to tour with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra as piccolo soloist that same year. In 1997, she toured the U.S. and Russia as piccolist with the American-Russian Youth Orchestra.

Ms. Ascione is a 1996 graduate of the University of North Texas, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in flute performance. She then continued her studies at Northwestern University under the tutelage of world-class flutist Walfrid Kujala, graduating with a Master of Music degree in 1997. She has also studied with renowned flutists Elizabeth Rowe, Laurie Sokoloff, Linda Lukas, Mary Karen Clardy, Terri Sundberg, Kathleen Chastain, and Margaret Linnan Kegel.

Currently, Ms. Ascione is principal flutist with The United States Air Force Concert Band and Woodwind Quintet in Washington, D.C. and has performed for countless audiences, including current and past U.S. Presidents and various world dignitaries. She has served as performer, soloist, teacher, clinician and adjudicator.

Artist Interview

Stacy Newbrough Ascione

We had the opportunity to ask Stacy a few questions. Take a look at her thoughts on her experience performing with Military Bands as well as suggestions for upcoming flutists about to enter the audition process.

1. How did you get involved with music in the military field?

I was completing my Master of Music degree at Northwestern when I heard about a flute opening in The Air Force Band of the Golden West, which is stationed at Travis AFB in California. The first round of auditions was a taped round. I sent in a tape I made, somewhat on a whim. I learned shortly thereafter that I had advanced to the next round. Since I was nearing the end of my life in academia, I knew I needed to get as much experience with auditions as possible if I wanted a shot at a musical career. I had also heard jobs in the military bands were actually pretty good, so I thought it would be worth flying out to take the audition. It was the first professional audition I had ever taken. To my surprise, I won. After doing a little more research about this particular position and benefits, and talking with other people in the band, I decided it was a great way to start a career. After all, my choices were to pay for another year of schooling, or to get paid to do what I had been training to do! After two years in that band, I auditioned for The United States Air Force Band in Washington, DC (the premier musical group of the Air Force), and won that position. I have been in Washington for fourteen years now.

2. What suggestions would you give a flutist interested in auditioning for a military band/ensemble?

Anyone who might have an interest in playing in a military band should first find out where there are openings. Vacant positions are advertised in popular sources such as "The International Musician" or the websites of the individual organizations. Once it is determined where there is a flute vacancy, find out as much about that particular band as possible. Consult their website, listen to their recordings, talk to people in the band, and talk to a recruiter to find out about pay and entitlements. If one decides to pursue this career, the next step is to contact the band's audition representative to inquire about their audition process. Always wait for the position to be offered to you-Do not join the military hoping to cross train into the band career field later! While a select few have done this, there is no guarantee that will happen. One must always audition before enlisting to be guaranteed a spot in the band of their choice. In preparing for the audition, prepare as you would for any other audition-study the repertoire (both orchestral and band), listen to recordings, run mock auditions in front of live audiences, practice sight-reading.

3. How competitive is the audition process and what should one expect auditioning for the first time?

The audition process varies somewhat among the different military bands, but it is essentially very similar to any professional orchestra audition. Some bands will ask for a taped first round, others won't. The live audition typically consists of a solo, orchestral excerpts, band excerpts and sight-reading. Sometimes one might be asked to play with a chamber group if he or she is a finalist. Most, but not all, bands screen their live auditions. The level of competition is generally very high. While it is not a requirement to have a degree to join, the vast majority of audition winners have at least one music degree, sometimes more. The main difference in auditioning for a military band is that the military has certain requirements of its members which must be determined through an interview before one can enlist. Excluding factors that would deny enlistment would be issues such as certain health problems, a criminal record, etc.

4. What are/have been the differences in playing with a military band compared to playing with a non-military ensemble?

Playing in a military band is actually quite similar to playing in any professional civilian ensemble: the level of music making is very high, there is a full schedule of rehearsals and concerts, and above all, we are paid to do what we love: make music. There are some differences, however, the first being the obvious: the uniform. As a member of the military, one must conform to military rules and regulations. To a new member, some of these might seem rather foreign (wearing the uniform, saluting, etc.), but most find them to be easy adjustments. Another big difference is the limited flexibility in scheduling. Though the schedule usually allows plenty of time for free-lancing and professional growth, military members are basically always "on call". This means occasionally there is a last minute change in the schedule, and unless we have requested leave (vacation), we must be able to adjust our personal schedules accordingly. Some differences are very positive ones, such as performing for the President and other dignitaries from around the world. Traveling is another difference: we tend to tour more frequently than civilian ensembles. I think the main positive difference between a military ensemble and a civilian one are the financial benefits. The military offers some outstanding benefits as well as pension plans which cannot be matched in the civilian sector. These include free health care, free dental care, housing stipend, and retirement after a mere twenty years of service. In addition, job stability is vitally important. In this day and age, there are a lot of high caliber orchestras that are struggling financially. Many of those are orchestras that do not offer high enough pay to cover the cost of living. It is really reassuring to know that as musicians we can afford to be in an environment that is musically satisfying without having to pick up another job to pay the bills. Overall, my experience as a military musician has been a very rewarding one, and I've had many opportunities I never would have had otherwise.

5. If you could identify the moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to be a professional musician, what would that moment be?

Seventh grade band rehearsal! I actually knew at a very young age that I loved performing in ensembles and wanted to continue doing it as long as possible. This was also the age I had my first experience playing in an orchestra as well, which was very eye-opening for me. But ultimately, I knew I thoroughly enjoyed the many different combinations of sound that could be achieved by a large ensemble of any kind, and being a part of that experience was (and still is) very exciting to me.

6. What does a typical day look like for you?

I've noticed a trend with Miyazawa Artists with regard to answers to this question, and like with others, for me there is no such thing as a typical day It all depends on what is on the horizon and what I am preparing for. I generally try to exercise early in the morning. Then I frequently have a large group rehearsal which generally lasts three hours. Sometimes that might be followed by a small chamber ensemble rehearsal. Then I have administrative work which involves supervision, emails, and various planning and programming of performances. Late afternoon is devoted to individual practice time, research and occasional teaching and adjudicating. Evenings are reserved for family whenever possible. Of course, this all goes out the window on concert days or when I'm on tour!

7. What is the most valuable lesson that the flute has taught you?

The flute has no doubt taught me many things: self-discipline, collaboration, awareness, gratitude. I think above all, perspective sums it up. The countless hours musicians spend in the practice room certainly can be an introspective experience. Because if we're not constantly analyzing every little detail of our playing, then the session is wasted. But the danger in musical experiences is turning what is introspective into something that is self-contained. For me, flute playing is really not an individual experience, but rather a collective experience. Music is collaboration not only between performers, but also between the performer and the composer. It is also a shared experience with one's audience. The flute has really taught me to look outward, communicate with the other performers, and connect with my audience. I find in order to do that it's essential to be musically aware. Being an ensemble player, I really get enjoyment out of figuring out how my musical contribution fits in with the bigger picture. Taking a step even further back, I like to try to put myself in the shoes of the audience and try to take in the product I am giving them from their perspective. I like to ask myself if I'm really conveying to the audience what the composer intended (and also what I intend). I've learned to think of my craft as a service that is being offered to my audiences rather than only a self-serving venture (though it can be that as well since performing music can be very gratifying!). I think this analogy of perspective translates to other aspects of life as well.

8. Your recent project included writing an essay on keeping classical music alive, which is also currently being published. Can you give us a sneak peek of some of the highlights of that essay?

Unfortunately the reality of the music world today is that there is at least a perception that interest in classical music is dwindling. Both financial and educational support for the arts are diminishing throughout the country. So in an effort to generate ideas on how to counteract this trend, Veritas Musica Publishing is currently in the process of publishing a book of essays written by several musicians from around the country with different musical backgrounds and experiences addressing this very topic. The focus of my essay is an examination of my theory on some of the causes of this apparent dwindling interest and pinpointing small ways in which we as performers can "think outside the box" in order to better connect with our audiences. The publication is set to go to print this summer with a publication release date of next fall. I really look forward to reading the thoughts of all of the other musicians on this topic!

9. How did you choose Miyazawa as your flute of choice?

About the same time I was sitting in my seventh grade band and deciding I wanted to continue to do that forever, I was also studying privately with an outstanding teacher and mentor, Margaret Linnan Kegel. At the time, she was also the Director of Marketing and Sales for Miyazawa Flutes. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful quality of sound Miyazawa has always produced on all of their flutes, and I've played nothing but Miyazawas ever since!

10. If you had one piece of advice to give for an upcoming flutist, what would you tell them?

Be open-minded and keep your employment options open. I feel that music schools today are doing a great job of training students to be good musicians, but they don't necessarily train them how to become employed. So many performance majors are aiming for orchestral careers, but the reality is that those kinds of opportunities are becoming less and less plentiful. There are many good orchestras out there, but very few pay well enough to be self-sustaining, so it's good to have in mind other ways to supplement one's income. It's also good to be open to other kinds of employment opportunities (musical or otherwise). Don't be afraid to be an entrepreneur and make your own opportunities. I was very lucky in that I obtained a job in a military band with excellent pay and benefits. Musicians don't always think of going this route, but this career path has really been very rewarding for me. No matter what direction one's individual path takes, the flute always remains a part of you!

Miyazawa’s Artist Profiles