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CP: Possible Moonshot Career Change for an Old Flute Maker
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Author:  Casey Burns [ Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:44 am ]
Post subject:  CP: Possible Moonshot Career Change for an Old Flute Maker

Just some news about my upcoming schedule. Am going in for knee replacement surgery - this time for my left knee - November 7th. I will be avoiding my workshop entirely until the 2nd week of January. I am about to stop promising Folk Flutes before my surgery, and the new expected delivery date will be in February or March even. Other flutes are getting scheduled into next year already.

In 2021 or sooner I hope to cease Folk Flute production entirely - and hopefully find a young flute maker - preferably a woman as they are better students and are woefully underrepresented in the Irish flute making world - to perhaps take over this line, with some sort of royalty agreement etc. At that point I will stop taking orders for all flutes, and will make flutes to sell to a want list, or on spec. I'll be done with the pressure to deliver, deposits, etc.

In the meantime I've decided to take more seriously another aspect of my musical life that has lain dormant for decades. I have always considered myself a composer longer than I've been a flute maker. In the late 1970s however, the pursuit of this meant assured poverty and so I pursued instrument making which had the possibility of providing me with a few pennies to spend. After 1985 my composing pretty much went dormant. It arose again in the 1990s with the advent of Finale, a music composition software package. It went dormant again after 9/11, and I only started thinking about this again 3-4 years ago.

Two years ago I was treated to a fantastic performance of The Magic Flute featuring the fantastic baritone Craig Verm as Papageno. One thing led to another and he actually gave me an opera singing lesson, stimulating my desire to pursue the idea of composing Opera seriously. Since then I have been working on several ideas and have strayed down several paths and plot lines. One of the latest ideas seemed viable until I got stuck with plot and character development issues. I still plan to do that one.

Then something jelled about a week ago and since Friday until this afternoon I have been furiously working on a new story, with my wife Nancy's help in plot and character development, as well as editing and proofreading. Today we finished the first draft of a libretto for an opera featuring well known Pacific Northwest stories and characters. The music is in my head for most of the opera. We love the story, which we are still improving here and there. We have others helping us and I am trying to arrange a meeting with a Dramaturg, to go over what works and what might be too impossible staging-wise.

By the end of winter I hope to have something ready to pitch to opera companies. This is the Moonshot part. In Show Business success can be sudden but failure is common. At least I get to deduct opera-related and composing-related expenses including opera tickets (as research) from my self-employment income so it will have a small benefit (my accountant said to keep it as part of my wind instrument business as an Opera is kind of a big wind instrument really).

All I need is one opera company to take it on. I have more confidence now than I did in the 1970s. Also much more experience in all sorts of musical arenas, as well as how to promote something! The Opera world is also changed and is aiming for newer compositions and shorter durations, etc. not to mention availing itself of modern technology. The possibilities are exploding it seems.

Should I all of a sudden find myself wrapped up in the Opera Production world, I'll probably cease my flute making for general production, and only make the wind instruments that I want to make. Frankly it is wearing out my body to make 100-150 flutes a year. In addition to knee replacements, I am wondering if hips, rotators and finger joints will need to be replaced as well! 40 years is a long time to work with one's hands, despite the romantic appeal that some might ascribe to it! The reality is a dusty life in a shop that definitely doesn't look like it is fresh out of a glossy Taunton Press book.

In the meantime this opera project may slow me down a bit in terms of getting flutes out to people. I fully planned to spend last week and this weekend in the shop since I'll be at DjangoFest Friday. Instead I spent it in Microsoft Word. Given the choice of going out to a cold, poorly insulated workshop on a dark rainy Seattle winter day, or staying inside and tightening up the score while my radiant floor and woodstove keep me cozy, its likely that my flute delivery estimates might suffer. Sorry! But the flute making will have to play Second Flute to Composition.

So wish me luck on this opera project. If there is a woman flute maker interested in eventually becoming the maker of my Folk Flute designs, contact me. Details on the opera itself will eventually emerge.



Author:  Terry McGee [ Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: CP: Possible Moonshot Career Change for an Old Flute Mak

Wow, Casey. People reckon being a flute maker is a weird job description, imagine being an opera composer! But yeah, go for it and the very best of fortune!

And remember: Old flute makers never die. They just aspire to sing the high note in the Queen of the Night's aria....

Author:  kmag [ Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: CP: Possible Moonshot Career Change for an Old Flute Mak

I hope you get all the pleasure and success from your new direction that you deserve. I also hope you can find a new person to take over for you as well. You have created a much needed niche, for years, for aspiring musicians.

Author:  Casey Burns [ Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CP: Possible Moonshot Career Change for an Old Flute Mak

Someone came forth already as far as the eventual Folk Flute person and she sounds exactly what I am looking for - with exactly the experience needed. This is exciting!

As far as the opera - I found I have about 10 more minutes of music to write to fit it into a perfect 75-80 minute piece. I wrote over 2700 sung words since Friday morning. Tomorrow the cousins are coming over for dinner, as well as the band Gangspil (!!!!!) from Denmark who we just saw the other night. Then Friday I am off to DjangoFest for the day and night only. I'll get my flute making done tomorrow morning, Thursday and over the weekend. In the meantime, I am living a charmed life!


Author:  Tunborough [ Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: CP: Possible Moonshot Career Change for an Old Flute Mak

Terry McGee wrote:
Old flute makers never die. They just aspire to sing the high note in the Queen of the Night's aria....
Sorry, but a flute is never likely to be the best instrument for that. This is what you need:

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: CP: Possible Moonshot Career Change for an Old Flute Mak

Tunborough wrote:

Class! :)

On quite another note (?), while folk tend to mean Der Hölle Rache when they simply say 'the Queen of the Night's aria', I have a soft spot for O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn (her other one). It might have just the one top F instead of four, but it's so tellingly placed after a more extended and inexorable build up.

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