AYPO engages highly talented artistic staff with incredibly interesting backgrounds. Learn more about our Flute Ensemble Director, Laura Kaufman.
1. What is your primary instrument and when did you start playing?
I started playing the flute when I was seven years old. Both my older brother and sister played instruments at the time, and being the youngest I naturally needed to do everything they were doing—so I insisted on playing an instrument as soon as possible! I picked the flute specifically because I remember hearing it in an orchestra concert, and thinking it was the most beautiful sound in the orchestra.
2. What is your favorite piece of music to play/conduct?
I have so many favorite pieces of music, it is so hard to choose one! My favorite orchestral piece changes every day depending on my mood, but right now it is Symphony No. 3 by Brahms (Mvt. 3!). My favorite piece to play for solo flute is "East Wind" by Shulamit Ran. I love playing it because it has so much depth and a wide range of extreme emotions in one piece.
3. What drew you to AYPO?
I wanted to create a flute ensemble in the area, and AYPO is a fantastic organization to collaborate with given the level of faculty and students. Even before I moved to Northern Virginia I had heard about AYPO during my undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music—I had a few friends that came from AYP—they absolutely loved playing in the orchestra, and would brag about how great it was!
4. What professional jobs do you have outside of AYPO?
I am very honored to be the flutist in a wind quintet called District5. We specialize in new music and transcriptions and also presenting concerts in innovative formats; we use lighting effects, improvisation, and sometimes even choreography. Outside of playing in the quintet, I enjoy teaching privately and freelancing with local symphonies in the DC area.
5. Did you play in a youth orchestra when you were young and if so, can you please share a bit about that experience?
I played in a youth orchestra in New Jersey called the Northern New Jersey Youth Symphony. It was a really small youth orchestra compared to AYP, but it was my first chance to play amazing orchestral repertoire—definitely one of my inspirations to become a performer.
6. Who are your musical mentors?
My flute teacher at Eastman, Bonita Boyd, made a huge impact on my musical outlook: she helped me develop my own unique musical voice and encouraged me to go after every single opportunity available.
7. What is some of the best advice you have received in your career?
The best advice I have ever received has been to forge my own path and to become a master of as many skills as possible. I absolutely love performing as a soloist and playing in orchestras, but I also enjoy having a lot of different aspects of my career. The projects I enjoy the most are the ones that I have created: District5 (wind quintet), creating innovative concerts, teaching in my private studio, etc. These are things that I have complete artistic control over and are the most rewarding. In today’s world, most successful musicians need to be able to do a little bit of everything in the field of music, not just play solos and orchestral music. Of course they need to be fantastic and dynamic musicians, but they also need to be innovative and masters of various styles, contemporary and baroque music, marketing, networking, recording, and so much more!
8. What are some of your hobbies/activities outside of music?
I love to cook! I absolutely love cooking and baking; I have the most fun going through cookbooks or Pinterest searching for a new amazing recipe. I also enjoy spending time with my husband and our goldendoodle named Bear. Bear follows me around the house most of the day when I’m home, but he is just about the cutest dog in the world and will do anything for a tummy rub!