Flute: Interview and demonstration with principal Jeffrey Khaner

Video transcript

(energetic music) (music become tranquil) Jeffrey The flute is made of gold, this particular one is made of gold, they're most often made in silver, but people use wood flutes now, again, as they used to many years ago. Of course, it's a "woodwind" instrument. But this one is 14 carat gold. This particular instrument was made for me specifically by the Yamaha company. It's my own scale, and a specially designed head joint. The scale is the placement of the holes in the tube, and I've found some of the commercially available scales were not exactly the way I would like them myself as a player in the orchestra. So I modified it somewhat to make it more suitable for me. (delicate music) One controls the sound tremendously the way you blow, and I think the way you blow is how you create the tone, really, in the same way that... It's not just the action of blowing that creates the tone, in the same way that on a stringed instrument just drawing a bow across the string isn't what creates the tone. It's the way the violinist fingers it, bows it, it's a combination, how one plays. It's the same thing with a wind instrument, it's how you blow, it's the instrument, it's everything. And everyone has their own tone, everyone develops their own. Every tone is a personality, and the tone is a reflection of the player. I change the way I blow to make different types of sounds and to make different characters for different composers, or even for different characters within one composition. But that being said, I never think actually about what I do. I practice to make different sorts of sounds, and then when it's appropriate I just make those sounds. I don't actually analyze too much how I do it. I practice to have a whole repertoire of sounds, and then I just do them automatically. (serene music) I will approach very differently the different composers. Ravel, for example, the Daphnis and Chloé suite, which has a huge flute solo, I'm going to think of that completely differently from the way I'm going to play in a Beethoven symphony or a Dvořák symphony, or even the Shostakovich symphony. Each one of those composers has a different language and a different character, and I'm certainly going to think differently when I do it. It's probably mostly for me, but the hope is that it translates to the audience, and that they understand the difference in playing. I mean, one should hear a Beethoven symphony very differently from the way one should hear a Brahms symphony. And the players have to reflect that, that's part of our job as interpreters, to show those differences. (sombre music) I started the flute in high school band, in grade seven, and I'm often asked why I chose the flute. I'll be perfectly honest, I don't remember. But I remember that I specifically wanted the flute, and that I rather deviously made sure that I got the flute. My older brother was a cellist, so there was music in the family, but it's not a family of musicians. But I was never told to practice, I was never forced to practice, it's just something that I enjoyed doing. Once I started playing, I just never had any interest in anything else. It was the one thing that I did. I got fairly good fairly early, and of course success makes one want to continue, it's so encouraging, and I just love doing it. (peaceful music) I found that the summer, for me, was the time to always look for the things that I wasn't getting during the year. So even when I was in college, I always went to summer festivals that could offer me something that I wasn't getting in school. Mostly I craved orchestral experience, so I always tried to go to those festivals where I could play as much as possible in orchestras. String players and pianists have the luxury of having great repertoire for themselves. Pianists can play the wonderful, wonderful music, and can make a life out of playing great music all by themselves. And they also play the whole part. And string players have wonderful repertoire, and they can play chamber music by Brahms, by Beethoven, by Mozart. But wind players and brass players don't have that luxury. The music that we have, first of all, is only one line, and there's not that much repertoire written for purely solo instruments. So to play the whole piece, we have to collaborate. To be a great artist on an instrument, you have to play great music. And to play great music, you have to play in the orchestra. Even the same repertoire over and over again with different conductors, different interpretations. This is the most joyful thing I could imagine. To be able to do that for a living is really something very special. (serene music)