The Art of Connection

October 11, 2010

I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin and what he has to say. Every time I read something of his, I feel inspired to act, to change something. Usually, to change something about myself.

Have you read Linchpin? You should. He published an addendum to it, “Insubordinate,” in which he says:

“The art of connection, the art of being human, the art of making a difference. Artists do things that have never been done before. They dig deep to create passion. They connect by changing things for the better… The market seeks out, recognized and embraces artists, people we can’t live without. That’s our opportunity right now. To be excellent means you must be an artist.”

Note that it does not say “To be an artist means you must be excellent.” It just completely redefines what makes an artist, and I love it. You don’t have to paint a pretty picture and get paid $5,000. You “just” have to be excellent.

How will you be excellent today? Tomorrow? We all do amazing things at various points in our day/week/month/lifetime, but how can you do something amazing more often? What are you passionate about?

Maybe promoting these ideas can be today’s contribution. Well, that and the fact that I registered to be a bone marrow donor this morning. That’s gotta count for something, right?

I hope you are a little inspired by his words. I know I am.


Introducing the Flarp Duo

September 20, 2010

Naomi Hoffmeyer and I first met at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the fall of 2009. We were both searching for exciting new musical opportunities and I had been wanting to playing with a harpist for quite some time. I was thrilled to find her!

Lucky for us, the first piece we played together was Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola and harp. One of the best classical pieces of all time, in my opinion. Since then, our violist has moved to New York, and we formed a flute and harp duo.

Alas, we had no name.  At our concert at Vi Gallery yesterday, however, we asked our audience for some help. We got lots of great suggestions, but the one we just couldn’t forget was “The Flarp Duo.” It’s just too funny to walk away from. We’re quirky, we’re fun, and we’re even a little weird- just like the name.

If the shoe fits…wear it!

Thank you to Vi Gallery for inviting us to perform in your beautiful space, and a big thanks to the audience for helping us come up with such a great name for our duo! Thank you so much for coming and supporting us yesterday; it was a beautiful event. For live recordings, visit our website or listen to a little sample here:

Faure Sicilienne for flute and harp

We’ll be performing next on October 18th at 4 pm at the Sequois Portola Valley.

The Flarp Duo

Calisa Hildebrand, flute and Naomi Hoffmeyer, harp

New Spectrum Ensemble

September 14, 2010

The New Spectrum Ensemble had their first rehearsal of the season today. We always play really challenging works, so I have to admit…I was a little nervous going into it! As soon as I saw everyone, however, I forgot all about my technical concerns and immediately had a blast (what was I so worried about?)!

Everyone in the New Spectrum Ensemble is talented and so fun to work with. Cellist Kathryn Bates-Williams and pianist Sandra Gu do a fantastic job of bring together amazing musicians to perform some truly remarkable pieces.

We are also really excited because NSE received its first funding from the American Composers Forum. The grant supports three performances of Kay Rhie’s I Hear the Sound of Trees for mixed ensemble and soprano.

At our fall concert, we’ll be Rhie’s piece as well as an awesome composition by Takuma Itoh entitled, “Pins and Needles.” Pins and Needles is everything I love in a piece of music: sharp, edgy, dramatic and intense. I fell in love with it instantly and can’t wait for people to hear the final product.

We’re so excited about this program that we are giving 2 back to back performances:

Saturday, October 16th, 7:30 pm at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco, 1187 Franklin Street

Sunday, October 17th, 3:00 pm at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Palo Alto, 600 Colorado Avenue

Mark your calendars and invite your friends now, it’s going to be here before you know it!


As a musician, teacher and performer, I promote music: new, old and everything in between. It’s my passion and my life’s work.

I first became invested in classical music engagement when I was in 7th grade and I noticed two problems:

1. All my friends dropped out because it wasn’t “cool” and nobody wanted to do zero period

2. Fellow students didn’t want to come hear us perform. It was really hard to get an audience!

The subject of classical music, its audience and the need for engagement has fueled a fire in me for many years. It finally dawned on me recently that while I love playing, I equally love promoting the art form. I constantly think about it, research it, and talk about it, so it’s about time I use that information for good!

I’ve decided to use my knowledge, experience and passion to help other ensembles and musicians promote themselves through strategic social media planning. While my first project was simply promoting myself, I’ve also helped a variety of other musicians get their social media and marketing plans up and running as well.

I’m extremely excited to announce my PR involvement with wildUp; a new, up and coming contemporary classical ensemble. Under the direction of Christopher Rountree, they are challenging the status quo, engaging the audience and making change. I’m honored to be the PR and social media consultant for this group and am loving every minute of it!

Calisa Hildebrand

Flutist and Social Media Consultant

Tweet Tweet!

August 27, 2010

I really apologize for my recent lack of blogging- so much exciting stuff has been going on that I ran out of time to update my own site! Unforgivable, I know.

I’d like to take a moment to thank WordPress for (finally) adding some awesome sharing options, including Twitter and Facebook buttons. Sweet!

Try it out, and if you’ve got some WordPress action going on, get it on yours as well!

Tweet, Tweet, party people!


Warm Reviews

June 8, 2010

I recently performed at the San Francisco Arts Medallion Luncheon at the Four Seasons Resort. Guitarist Jonathan Mendle I played a variety of repertoire during the reception as guests entered the ballroom and mingled about. We were honored to play for the luncheon and even more honored by the comments we received. Guests even stopped us while we were playing to tell us how much they enjoyed the music!

It’s rare to be able to receive praise after a performance such as this. Usually you walk in, play, and go home wondering if you made a difference to anyone that day. Did people like it? Hate it? You rarely know.

Below is an excerpt from one of the emails that was forwarded to me regarding our performance. It’s so nice to hear back from people about how they felt!

“I wish to thank you for providing the Guitar and Flute duo.  They performed beautifully as well and they were at the entrance to the reception and were the delight of all our guests.  Please convey to Jonathan and Calisa our deepest appreciation for their wonderful music.

[We were] very touched by the young artists from the Conservatory of Music that performed.  It was such a wonderful gesture of the Conservatory… It all worked out perfectly and these musicians were the highlight of the entire event.”

This is one of those emails that makes all those rehearsals worth it!  Thank you so much to everyone who came and took the time to let us know how much you appreciated our performance!


As part of SFCM’s New Music Ensemble, we had the priviledge of attend UC Santa Cruz’s 2010 Pacific Rim Music Festival on Wednesday, April 24th. Along with Nicole Paiement’s “Ensemble Parallèle,” we performed an all Varèse program.

The Mercury News wrote that the Pacific Rim Festival opened with a “special concert of rarely performed music by the influential French-born composer Edgard Varèse. His concept of “organized sound” and his use of new instruments and other non-traditional sound sources greatly influenced the contemporary avant-garde.”

I was involved in the performance of Edgar Varèse’s’ Desèrts, a dark, haunting piece written for chamber orchestra and tape. The first piece ever written to use recorded sounds, it was premiered in 1954 to an audience that called it “the music of the time of the H-Bomb,” and protested it’s performance for several minutes.

Desèrts has not been performed many times since it’s premier in 1954. Even the composer wasn’t entirely happy with the work, as he felt that he was never truly able to create what he envisioned. Nevertheless, it is incredibly important to honor the historical significance of this composer and his contribution to music. He had a huge influence on post World War II composers. Since the premiere of Desèrts, composers have incorporated the use of pre-recorded tape into live performances with increasing frequency and success. For example, one of my favorite composers, Ian Clarke, has written a number of pieces for flute and tape (or now, flute and CD).  I was lucky enough to be the first person in the US to premiere his piece, TRK’s, aside from the composer himself.

Cheers to Varèse for paving the way for using pre-recorded sounds, and cheers to Nicole Paiement, director of the SFCM New Music Ensemble, for having the courage to perform such a historically significant work. It was an honor to play it, and an equally great honor to perform at the Pacific Rim Festival!



April 20, 2010

I am proud to announce that I was chosen to be the principal flutist of the BASOTI Opera this summer. BASOTI is short for the “Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre Institute.” They will be performing Mozart’s opera, “The Magic Flute,” in San Francisco from June 20th-August 1st.

I am so excited to have won this audition. It was my first professional audition that I’ve ever taken, and I’m so very honored! I rushed to the audition while at my first rehearsal for a fantastic chamber group, The New Spectrum Ensemble.  It was a crazy day, but was such a rush! I love getting to  play music all the time like this.

While I would absolutely love to be a part of this incredible opportunity, I will not be able to accept the position due to a previous engagement. I know the production will be beautiful and I truly wish that I could be a part of it. I’m looking forward to seeing the performances and to whatever lies ahead for me next!

Best wishes,


I’m so excited I can barely stay calm enough to write this post!

“A Map of the Imagination,” by Katherine Saxon, commissioned by and written for my flute, viola, piano trio, has arrived! I’m sitting here, looking at it right now!

We will be premiering this piece at the UC Santa Barbara Primavera Festival of Contemporary Arts and Digital Media on April 30th at 7 pm as part of the “Electric Catfish” performance.  I know it will be received well and I’m so looking forward to getting to go back to Santa Barbara, play with my favorite musicians, and work with this extremely talented composer.

The coolest thing about having someone that knows you so well write a piece for you is that I get all things Calisa in it.  Here’s a list of my favorite techniques she included:

-Flutter Tonguing!!!

-LOUD flutter tonguing!

-Multiphonics (playing multiple notes at once)

-Glissandos and note bends

-“Knock on viola body with fists” and “Hit the outside of the piano body”

-“Stomp feet” (um… awesome!)

And that just skims the surface. It’s going to be very cool.

Did I mention how excited I am to get to play with my trio, Major Third, again? Shannon McCue, the violist, and Margaret Halbig, the pianist, are incredible musicians. Combine that with a great piece by a wonderful composer and you have a recipe for something truly amazing.

Thank you, Katie, for all your hard work! We are so thankful for everything you have done!


Recordings to come, I promise!


April 1, 2010

Last week I taught Amanda, my friend’s younger sister, who I haven’t seen for years.  She started playing the flute in the fall and has been struggling a bit since then. The flute is one of the most difficult instruments to learn, since most new flutists can’t even get a sound out. Understandably, this causes a lot of frustration in the beginning.

Amanda was such a joy to work with and by the end of the lesson, she was tootin’ away! We turned that frown upside down and got her moving in the right direction.  She inspired me to be a better musician and a better teacher. It was a truly incredible experience.

I knew when we finished that I wouldn’t see her for another long period of time, so I was wondering how she might continue after our meeting. Would she go back to her initial frustrations, or hopefully continue to find some joy in the flute?

Then I got this email from her family:

“I just wanted to let you know that Amanda is super excited about the flute!  She practiced for an hour yesterday and was sitting up and articulating and having so much fun!  Thank you so much for reinvigorating her interest in music!  We were getting so worried that she would completely lose interest because of her teacher. We had so much fun too! :)”

And that is 150% the reason why I teach. My heart is overjoyed.

Thank you, Amanda, for reminding me why I love what I do so much.



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