Bethanne Walker
Photo credit: James McCormick

Baroque flutist Bethanne Walker is one of ABS’s newest members. She first participated in an ABS Academy in 2015, returned in 2016 and 2017, and joined the American Bach Soloists roster at the 2019 Festival, performing in Geminiani’s “The Enchanted Forest.” Since then, she was featured in an ABS Exclusive concert and as the solo flutist in last year’s “A Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera.” Known for her intensity, clarity, and versatility in her performances and repertoire, Bethanne is dedicated to historical performance practice as well as modern and orchestral repertoire. As a Baroque flutist, she has also performed with New York Baroque Incorporated, Mercury Chamber Orchestra, Sonnambula, Ars Antiqua, Cal Performances, and Les Arts Florissants at the Dans le Jardin de William Christie. She is also the principal flutist of the Stockton Symphony, and performs with the San Francisco Symphony among several others.

A native of Eugene, Oregon, and a former Bay Area resident, Bethanne now lives in New York City where she maintains an exclusive private teaching studio, and she has taught baroque flute through the Historical Performance Program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Among her teachers, she has studied with ABS principal flutist Sandra Miller.

Bethanne has kept busy of these last months, and she shares her most recent interests in food, wine, sewing, painting, and music with us today. Get started with her video greeting below!
Q: These days, lots of people are sharing lists of favorite books, movies, etc. that might be enjoyed by others. Do you have any recommendations?

I have been re-watching Anthony Bourdain’s old shows (“Parts Unknown” and “No Reservations”) and would highly recommend them to anyone who likes food and travel shows. Through the unique perspective of a burnt out, highly cynical professional chef, Bourdain reluctantly jumps over occasional hurdles of network-worthy shock value. But underneath it all, Bourdain’s beautiful, personal storytelling reveals a man who is continuously humbled and bewitched by the beauty of peoples’ generosity and kindness from all over the world. 

And for those who don’t know, I have a deep appreciation for wine, and my fiancé happens to be a sommelier! Due to the current situation, it has been a little difficult for us to track down our favorites, but we still have been enjoying plenty of summery wine in this sweltering New York heat. We recommend Vermentino from Colli di Luni, and Vermentino blends from Cinque Terre for white wine lovers; Schiava from Trentino-Alto Adige, and Dolcetto from Dogliani if you prefer reds; and almost any rosé made from Pinot Noir. À votre santé!

Q: So many musical performances have been canceled recently, but have you been able to take on any new musical projects? Have you delved into repertory that you hadn’t had time to work on before?

A couple of years ago, I received a very generous gift of a beautiful flute handcrafted in Strasbourg in the early 1800s, making it roughly 200 years old. Due to the nature of time’s fickle relationship with wood and woodwind instruments, the pitch has gone awry thus making it very difficult to play with other instruments. Thankfully it has preserved a remarkably clear, sweet tone and it makes for an incredibly beautiful instrument for solo music of its time period. I have taken it upon myself to play through some French classical music by Devienne and Hugot.

I perform regularly on Baroque flute, Classical flute, and modern flute and piccolo, and for the first time in a while, I have not felt the necessity to juggle them all in one day, every single day. Even if you do something you wholeheartedly love, somehow it can still feel like work sometimes. Since I currently do not have any imminent musical deadlines, when I choose to play the flute, it is truly for myself. 
pictured at right:
"at the Union Square Farmers Market in NYC with my ABS Academy tote bag!"

Q: Would you tell us something about your pre-ABS life that most of us don’t know?

I began my illustrious career on the alto saxophone. Occasionally I wonder what I would be doing if I didn’t switch to the flute! (Probably not playing the saxophone…)

Q: You have many other strong interests. Have the past months given you a chance to enjoy those other pursuits?

Due to the unexpected down time, I have rekindled some interests, particularly hobbies I thoroughly enjoyed doing as a child. I spent countless hours sitting next to my mom learning how to sew. I unfortunately don’t own a sewing machine (hopefully one day soon!), so I do everything painstakingly by hand, which I have done for years now. I’m on the petite side, so I do my own simple alterations. If I have time to spare and I don’t have anything to mend, I love practicing various stitches. I would say sewing by hand is a very historical practice, no? :)

I have also taken up watercolor painting again. I have a tiny custom palette that fits in the palm of my hand. I’m only working on color theory and values; I’m focusing on really getting to know the basic capabilities of my palette setup and how the paint takes to my current set of paper. I’m nowhere near painting anything interesting yet; I just have a great appreciation for insisting on practicing basic fundamentals. And of course, I have been taking walks around the city with my fiancé when it’s not too hot outside. We love looking at flowers and trees in all stages of growth. And dog spotting — we are experts!
Photo credit: Debbie Anninano

Q: Our audiences love you and your performances. And we’re so happy that you love to be with us at ABS. Are there any standout reasons why you look forward to your future projects with ABS?

I’m always inspired by my fellow musicians with ABS; it’s truly an incredibly talented group of people. I am really looking forward to rejoining everyone and making music with other people again. And most importantly, I look forward to meeting people like you! My favorite part of any concert is seeing those in attendance. I have met some of the most interesting people through ABS. Please don’t be shy, next concert please come up and say hello!
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Sarabande from Partita for Solo Flute in A Minor, BWV 1013
Be well and stay well!
from all of us at ABS
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