An interview with a professional musician

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What was the highlight of your music education?

Well, earning a degree from Stony Brook University was a highpoint. Likewise, earning my Master's of Music from Five Towns College.

But I must say the highest point was in 1997. My wife (flutist, Michelle LaPorte) and I make up the flute and guitar ensemble, Serenade Duo. In late 1996 we played for a panel of judges and we won the Special Presentation in Chamber Music award from Artists International. We won the opportunity to debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

What we did with that opportunity was the real highlight. Long before the days of social media websites, we created an invitation letter to celebrate our achievement, much like a wedding invitation. We sent out the letter to our family, friends, and students and we sold out the house in less than 6 weeks.

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“I believe the greatest lesson I learned - make the most of every opportunity”

Our concert was very well received; Leo Ruiz, the late Director of Artists International called our performance “one of the best chamber performances he had ever seen in 25 years of presentations...”. He awarded us a 2nd presentation that evening backstage after our debut. Our career was officially up and running!

We played 4 more sold out concerts at Weill Hall and Merkin Concert Hall at Lincoln Center presented by Artists International and have not looked back since. I believe the greatest lesson I learned - make the most of every opportunity.

What is the best thing about being a musician for a living?

The joy of musical expression. In my case it is double the rewards as most of it is with my wife, so our tour dates are half work and half vacation! 

There is one specific joyful moment I’d like to mention. In 2003, we were honoured once again to play at Carnegie Hall. What we did with this award was create a fundraiser via the ticket sales. We collaborated with the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County, an organization located in the county where Michelle and I live.

Our sold out concert event raised over USD$10,000 for victims of domestic violence. Of all the musical highlights of our career, this was a very special event concert. We learned the true power of music that night.  

Your ensemble, Serenade Duo sounds fantastic. Would you like to plug that and tell our readers where they can listen to you?

Michelle and I founded our duo in 1988 while we were both students at Stony Brook University.

I thought she was the best player (and the best looking!) member of our class. We have always focused on being an ensemble, rather than two soloists coming together for a concert. Our music is contemporary, built with tonal themes and popular sensibilities. We tend to explore world cultures through composed musical works. Our 2012 summer international tour dates took us to London, and included recitals at St. Lawrence Jewry at Guild Hall Yard and St. Johns Church in Stratford, the official welcome center of the 2012 Summer Olympics. In November we played the American Church in Paris for a 3rd engagement. This spring we will be performing at St. Ann’s Church in Dublin, Ireland.

For more detailed information about us, please check out our website at: www.serenadeduo.com  

You can also visit our youtube channel: Serenadeduo

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