When you're a kid trying to learn how to play guitar, you might have a guitar hero you're trying to emulate, maybe a Jimmy Page or a Jimi Hendrix. Or if you're into classical, maybe you want to be the next Andrés Segovia.
But what if you're a flute player? How many famous flutists are there to pattern yourself after—besides the guy from Jethro Tull.
For Vancouver Symphony principal flutist Christie Reside, it wasn't like she'd spend any time trying to duplicate Ian Anderson's flute licks on "Living in the Past".
"I definitely had teachers and players that I looked up to," says Reside on the phone from her East Van home, "but I think my musical inspirations came more from violin and piano—like I loved listening to old recordings of Isaac Stern and [Arthur] Rubinstein and David Oistrakh. I mean that's really where I found a lot of inspiration."
The Calgary-raised Reside didn't have to look far for further motivation, as both her parents were flute teachers, and her brothers learned to play the instrument as well. She remembers getting a flute for her fifth birthday.
"It came to me really easily," she recalls. "I didn't really struggle with it in the same way that I struggled with piano when I tried to learn that."
Reside's journey to becoming the VSO's top flute player included earning a Bachelor of Music degree at McGill University, where she studied under Timothy Hutchins, who's been the principal flutist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra since 1978.
"I learned so much just from listening to him play in our lessons," she raves. "He's just a phenomenally talented flutist."
Reside won the position of second flute with the VSO when she was only 19, and has been principal flutist since 2004. She's garnered some fond memories along the way, most of which revolve around working with the orchestra's second flute player, Rosanne Wieringa.
"We play really well together," says Reside, "and we're great friends, so any time we play something with great first and second flute parts—like a Beethoven symphony or a Dvorak symphony—those are always my favorite moments in an orchestra. I feel like we have a really special bond."
Another VSO moment that stands out for Reside was the time that its former conductor Bramwell Tovey asked her to play a "beautiful" solo piece by Leonard Bernstein called Halil. She has also performed as a soloist with the symphony orchestras of Montreal, Quebec City, Edmonton, Calgary, and Victoria.
So how does that work, one might ask. Do those other symphonies just call just her up and say: "Hey, we understand you're a smokin'-hot flute player. Can we borrow you for a bit?"
"Yeah, kind of," she replies with a laugh. "For Montreal and Quebec, that was the result of competitions I won when I was younger. And some, like Victoria, they just call you up and say, 'Hey, you want to play with us?' It's great when that happens."
Reside is a member of the Standing Wave Ensemble, a group specializing in commissioning and performing new works by Canadian composers. She also keeps busy as an adjunct professor at UBC and a faculty member at the VSO School of Music. For her, the rewards of teaching are many.
"It's a great way to grow as a musician myself if I'm working through this repertoire with all kinds of different musicians," she points out, before being asked what she thinks is the most important thing to teach a flute player.
"For me I would say it's a combination between building confidence—which is a really difficult skill for many of us who are so focused on critiquing ourselves every day in the practice room—and helping them cultivate a love of music and art that will hopefully last them a lifetime."
Resides own confidence may be put the test somewhat next week when she joins conductor Otto Tausk and the VSO for Beethoven’s Eroica, a program that will see her take the spotlight on Swiss composer Frank Martin's 1939 Ballade for Flute, Strings, and Piano.
"I've played this piece many times before," she says, "but never with orchestra. It's a really common competition piece, so of course it's virtuosic and technically challenging, but what I like about this piece is that it's so dark and intense and furious. It's not your typical pretty flute music.
"For me, the intensity that comes through this piece, I'm sort of interpreting it as almost like a jonesing. You know, Martin was very clear that he chose this title, Ballade, because he really wanted the soloist to tell a story, and to have the opportunity to exercise their musicianship. And for me the underlying theme in this piece is one of like really jonesing for something that is right in front of you, sort of having this almost jittery longing, but holding yourself back. It's almost that kind of intensity."
Christie Reside will be featured with the Vancouver Symphony at the Orpheum Theatre on January 21 and 22 at 8 pm and January 23 at 2 pm.