MEET OUR MUSICIANS - Susan Greenberg (FLUTE)

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At what age and how did you choose your instrument?

I started the piano at 7 and the flute at 8. I was given a flute at school. The teacher gave my friend the violin because he thought her fingers were good for the violin, and he gave me a flute.  I played both through high school, although the conductor of the Northern California High School Honor Orchestra told me “pianists are a dime a dozen; you should concentrate on the flute.” Therefore, in 11th grade I changed to a wonderful teacher in the San Francisco Symphony and my playing really improved. 

What is your full-time profession and how do you balance it with other commitments?

My full-time profession has been music my whole life, whether playing or teaching. I received a B.A. and M.A. in Music History from UCLA so I could teach college. After playing a 2-flute concerto at UCLA my first year with my teacher , who was the first flutist in the LA Philharmonic, and getting a great review in the LA Times, I thought “wow, maybe I could actually be a performer for a living!” Then I got a full scholarship to the Music Academy of the West after my freshman year, and I realized I was serious and devoted to becoming a professional flutist. 


I was offered my first professional job after that, opening the Music Center with the Roger Wagner Chorale and Orchestra, and playing in the flute section with two of the best flutists in town. I was only a teenager at that time when I joined the Musicians Union Local 47, and toured around the world with Roger Wagner, began to play extra flute under Zubin Mehta with the Los Angeles Phil for 7 years , and joined the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 1975. I played 2nd flute and piccolo for 36 years with them and premiered two concertos written for me - one by Bruce Broughton for piccolo and the other by Gernot Wolfgang for flute, alto flute and piccolo. I also performed with the Los Angeles Opera, NY City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater, for many shows, and played background music for 500 movies from On Golden Pond, to Fantasia, the Notebook, Lion King, Tiny Toons, the Simpsons and many other TV shows. 


I presently teach at Pepperdine University and Santa Monica College and I play Principal flute with the Santa Monica Symphony. I’ve been married for 46 years, and we have 2 kids (both attorneys) and 4 grandkids.  

What does chamber music mean to you?

I LOVE playing chamber music. I am the Co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Palisades, which is going on its 23rd Season. Next season, I have many recitals with various chamber music combinations including a flute, harp and string quintet; a flute, guitar and tenor trio; a flute and piano duo, and a flute and harp duo. 

What motivated you to join the VCO?

My good friend, George Goldberg,  who plays violin with the VCO, told me about Zain and this new “labor of love” chamber orchestra. Having been retired from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, where I played 2nd flute and piccolo, I thought what a perfect opportunity to play in a chamber orchestra, 1st flute and close to home. And when I met and spoke to Zain, I was hooked. 

Do you have any advice for young musicians?

Never practice faster than it is perfect. All you do is imprint the mistakes, and then it takes much longer to “unlearn” the mistake and re-practice the passage. Try singing your phrases before you play them once you know the notes and listen to the connection between the notes to make beautiful phrases. Listen to all musicians from singers to string players. Keep practicing and look for as many opportunities as possible to make music with others. 

 

Updated September 2019