Jessica Scott, finalist in the 2018 Sydney Eisteddfod NSW Drs Orchestra Instrumental Scholarship, shares her personal preparation techniques for a performance, some of her favourite performers and more importantly her future plans as a flutist.
What inspired you to start playing the flute?
The first instrument I wanted to play was the harp. It was and still is one of my favourite sounds. In hindsight, I’m glad I chose the flute…it’s much more portable!
It was during instrument tryouts for my school band that I first tried the flute; I was eight years old. I was fascinated by the instrument’s shiny exterior and pure tone, and was determined to make a sound on the head joint. After a few tries, I finally did!
Later that year, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue the flute. My cousin, a cellist, was visiting from Holland at the time and offered to give me a music lesson. Since then, I have developed a great passion for music and couldn't imagine life without it! My favourite combination of instruments are the harp, flute and cello; maybe due to those very first musical impressions.
Can you tell us a bit about the pieces you chose to perform for the final?
Paul Taffanel’s Andante Pastoral and Scherzettino is a nice balance between the flute’s great flexibility of tone and its faster, more technical side. This makes the piece a nice addition to the French flute repertoire. Anton Stamitz’s Caprice No. 1 for flute is a Classical interlude between the Romantic and Modern pieces I am performing, with heavy ornamentation, it has a more playful style. Frank Martin’s Ballade is one of my favourite pieces, the ‘darker’ side of the flute is explored here, and the constantly shifting harmony and colours are both beautiful and scary!
Which other performers do you most like to listen to, and why?
Among my many favourite performers are Emily Beynon and Claire Chase (both flutists) and violinist Janine Jansen. I am lucky to have studied with Emily two summers ago at her Australian flute course and have seen Jansen and Chase live. With all three performers, you don’t hear the limitations of the flute or violin: you forget about the instrument completely and enjoy the music! Seeing Claire Chase perform was one of the highlights of my year: she has this boundless energy, a stage presence that commands your attention from beginning to end.
What have you learnt from your Sydney Eisteddfod experience?
Most importantly, I have learnt that comradery and teamwork are at the core of who we are as musicians. It has been a privilege to perform alongside musicians who are always encouraging each other at the end of a performance, or are ready to jump in and help when an instrument malfunctions.
What would you say to a young musician who was thinking about entering Sydney Eisteddfod?
Above all things, remember that performance is a vessel for communication: my best performances were those where I let my barriers down and shared a part of myself and the music with the audience. Always consider preparation outside of the practical: tone colour and technique are important areas to improve upon, but we can often forget about the conceptual areas of preparation. Try reading the score away from the instrument and see if you have a clear idea of what you want to express musically. In addition to practice performances, close your eyes and mentally take yourself through a ‘perfect’ virtual performance: this helps develop so many aspects of performing, from memorisation to positive thinking.
What do you hope to achieve next?
My next big goal is to study a Masters degree with Leone Buyse in Houston, Texas. When I attended her masterclass on the Poulenc Sonata last year, I found her teaching style very clear and engaging. I’m also looking forward to attending her flute course in Macedon this September! Next year I’m excited to be touring the UK with the Sydney Youth Orchestra and am hoping to stay behind afterwards to learn from some of the great teachers over there. In 2019, I’ll also be auditioning for the SSO Fellowship and Australian Flute Festival competition…so it’s going to be a big year!