Orchestral work, auditions in europe, solo piccolo recordings
What is your job title? Can you tell us a bit about the orchestra?
I’m the principal piccolo player with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. Our orchestra is based in Antwerp and is one of the two major symphony orchestras in the country. Our chief conductor is Edo de Waart and our principal conductor is Philippe Herreweghe.
Who were your teachers and influences as a flautist?
After finishing my studies at the Brussels Conservatory I went to Paris to study with Ida Ribera. I also learned a lot by attending master classes with Geoffrey Gilbert, Trevor Wye and William Bennett.
Have you always particularly enjoyed and excelled playing piccolo?
I never had a piccolo teacher! My first piccolo was a plastic model I used for playing in a wind band. My early orchestral audition experiences proved to be more successful when piccolo playing was involved and so piccolo playing gave me the opportunity to do a lot of freelance playing. I always enjoyed playing piccolo – I think that has to do with my personality. I like the innocent joyfulness and exuberance that can be found in a lot of the piccolo orchestral excerpts and I try to prove that the piccolo can be a fragile and cantabile instrument, too. When I started learning the flute at the age of 9, I had to work very hard to learn to form my embouchure. It was a frustrating process, but I think it has given me the advantage of being able to switch to other flutes easily. I wouldn’t call this excellence, but I discovered that I could play passages on piccolo with the same ease as I could do it on flute.
What is your favourite repertoire to perform?
As an orchestral piccolo player, my top 4 composers are Shostakovich, Mahler, Ravel and Stravinsky. I always enjoy performing the Shostakovich symphonies the most. I used to think the piccolo repertoire was limited to the polka’s from the ‘Golden Age’. Thanks to the American piccolo players like Jan Gippo, Zart Dombourian-Eby, Sarah Jackson, Cynthia Ellis, Lois Herbine and Christie Beard I have found a lot of interesting works. I have also started a project with Flemish composers in which I’ve premiered and recorded some really fine new works for piccolo and piano. As a result of this combined work by some very courageous piccolo enthusiasts like the Italian Nicola Mazzanti, Matjaz Debeljak from Slovenia, Lior Eitan from Israël and of course Jean-Louis Beaumadier, I think there is now much more interesting piccolo repertoire than some people expect. I regret that there are only a few really good piccolo concerti and hope to help change that in the future too. In fact – just last season I commissioned a concerto for piccolo and wind band by Robert Groslot and recorded it with the Royal Symphonic Band of the Belgian Guides.