Maynard, Massachusetts, March 28, 2011
For Immediate Release
Astronaut, Colonel Catherine "Cady" Coleman, had to limit the number of personal items she could bring aboard the International Space Station in 2011. One of the items she brought was her new, Powell Handmade Conservatory flute. The previous autumn she selected Powell to make a flute for her journey to outer space on the recommendation of flutist, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, who owns several Powell instruments.
During an interview with NPR, Colonel Coleman said: "One of the things that I think is important to do is to try to share how amazing it is up here. I relate to flute players and I just wanted them to understand what a cool place it was and how many possibilities there were to play music up here on the space station." Colonel Coleman is the first musician to bring a wind instrument on to the Space Station - other astronauts have taken guitars and keyboards.
Coleman and her Powell flute left for their mission on December 15, 2010 aboard the Soyuz TMA-20, as part of Expedition 26 and 27 to the International Space Station. (Click here to watch a video of the launch!) She has many responsibilities aboard the station, including the operation of the robotic arm and various experiments. With all the requirements of her position, she is still making time to practice her flute. If Colonel Coleman can practice her flute in space, it is needless to say that flute students around the world no longer have an excuse not to practice!
At Powell's Maynard, Massachusetts workshop Colonel Coleman worked with Rebecca Eckles to find the instrument that suited her best. Eckles, a former military musician, played flute and piccolo in United States Marine Corps field bands.
Rebecca says, "Not knowing what to expect, I was a bit nervous about meeting Col. Cady Coleman. However, It was immediately evident that Cady knew exactly what she was looking for, and she was fantastic to work with. Her passion for music and space is infectious. I look forward to listening to her experiences and sharing them with anyone who will listen!"
Recently, in an Earth-to-space interview, All Things Considered host Melissa Block asked what it's like to play a flute and experience weightlessness.
"It's just really different," Coleman says. "I've been having the nicest time up in our Cupola - it's a module that has windows all the way around. I just float around in there and play with my eyes closed. What's really funny to me is that I'll suddenly run into something that [I] had no idea was so close. It's neat to float around and not know quite where you are, but still be creating your own little world with music."
Based on Col. Coleman's comment about "bumping into things" while playing the flute, Powell expects to see this new flute back at our shop for some quick repairs once she returns.
The headjoint that Col. Coleman is playing on the International Space Station will be returned to Powell once she returns from her mission. It will be engraved to signify the long trip it has taken and will be on display at the National Flute Association Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in August 2011.