Alice K. Dade is Professor of Flute at the University of Missouri School of Music. Alice can be seen as a guest star of “Now Hear This," a new tv series about classical music to air on PBS and internationally. A Powell Artist, Alice’s Solo CD Living Music was released on Naxos in February 2018.
What are your favorite pieces to perform and why?
Poulenc Sonata. That slow movement is to die for. There’s a little humor, some tragedy, some unanswered questions. I will never tire of it.
Nielsen Concerto. In my opinion, the best concerto we have.
Joan Tower Rising. I have only performed it once but what a memorable experience. I worked with fantastic string players and can’t wait to play it again.
Debussy Sonate for flute, viola, and harp. This music is so nostalgic for me! I immediately remember performing it in New York, Miami, Medellín, San Luis Obispo. Also an opportunity to try and sound like a viola and blend with harp. So much fun.
Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances. Very difficult music but it has everything. Reminds me of one of the first concerts I played with the Swedish Radio Orchestra.
All trashy flashy music. Böhm Grand Polonaise, Genin Carnival of Venice, Borne Carmen Fantasy…I love the style and somehow relate especially well. Hmmm...
What are some of your most recent projects?
I have always wanted to combine comedy and music. I recently performed a recital at The University of Missouri in a Cabaret format. I introduced pieces with a vamped and light hearted piano tune, had special guest stars like a blackbird for Messiaen’s Le Merle Noir, and sang a song about cheese to the melody of Gaubert’s Romance. I’m now writing new scripts and feel more like myself than before! I also love engaging with an audience. I want to give them information about what I’m playing but it doesn’t have to be a lecture! Leading up to this, I’ve taken online classes through Second City and went to The Improv Retreat in Wisconsin last summer. I can’t wait to debut more comedy in music projects…(wink)
I am also a guest star of Now Hear This, a new tv series about classical music to premiere on PBS in September 2019. As the premier episode of next season’s Great Performances, Now Hear This will be the first classical music tv series to air on primetime in over fifty years! My husband, Scott Yoo, is the host of the series. In the first season, I appear in the second and third episodes. What I like most about the show is that it’s not a lecture. It is a travel show following a different composer in each episode. Imagine the late Anthony Bourdain’s series but instead of focusing on food, it’s about classical music. The director, Harry Lynch, is a muggle but he knows a lot about classical music. It’s the perfect balance of fun, information, travel, and comedy.
What do you like most about your professorship at the University of Missouri?
I have such cool students!. They all have different goals and most of them have a second major in addition to music. I learn so much in our lessons together. For example, I have to figure out if a student is someone who needs questions answered, if they are goal oriented, or if they need outside accountability. Once I have that figured out, I know what motivates them. It challenges me to have many ways of explaining things or if demonstration is key. It’s definitely a lot of responsibility! I want to make sure they are all aware of the opportunities available to them and what they need to accomplish to be accepted to grad school, etc. But they really are daily inspiration.
What do you like best about performing?
I love bringing out the characters composers have written or at least my interpretation of them. For example, the Nielsen Concerto has so many characters in the first three minutes! It’s a proclamation followed by tongue in cheek banter, some kind of nostalgic melody that turns angry, a little tantrum…so many things! I want to tell the audience about what I’ve discovered in Nielsen’s music without saying anything. I think it’s so amazing that we can do that, that we have a vehicle that makes it possible. We are so lucky.
My first solo CD, Living Music, was released on Naxos in February 2018. My next recording project will take place this summer! I will make the premiere recording of Michael Fine’s Quintet for flute and string quartet. The rest of the album, also premieres, will feature oboe, english horn, clarinet, and bassoon, also with string quartet. Michael Fine also wrote Skipping Stones for flute and string quintet, the second track of Living Music. Exciting bonus: I will act as associate producer alongside the composer.
What does your schedule look like for the next 6 months?
Let’s see…My students and I are so excited to have the second annual Mizzou Flute Fest with Guest Artist Melissa Keeling in April! Also in April, I’m performing the Poulenc Sonata and the Rota Trio for flute, violin, and piano at Colorado College for their Intermezzo Series. In June, July, and August I am Artist Faculty at Colorado College Music Festival and as Principal Flute at Festival Mozaic. Directly after Mozaic is the Michael Fine recording I mentioned as well as a brief vacation somewhere on the west coast. I’m also making plans to record another solo CD, this time with orchestra! So I suppose grant writing and lots of organizational/details are in store. Throughout this time, I will film more one minute videos for my Instagram account @dadealice (so much fun). In addition, a couple of concerto performances in preparation for the recording! Including Hanson Serenade and Foote A Night Piece, two of my favorites.
What are your goals personally? Professionally?
I want to be happy. If I keep that in mind, I will spend time with interesting, nice people and choose projects that are compelling to me. I think If I keep those things in mind, I will reach my goals. #relishinginsimplicity
What inspires you the most in life?
Laughter—whether it is because something is funny or it is a reaction to stress, accomplishment, or general happiness. I love to laugh!
What has been your greatest challenge?
How is this for irony…to not take myself too seriously, ha! I always want to push my limits and make things better. Meanwhile, I get stressed out and lose my sense of humor. As long as I keep my sense of humor intact, everything is better.
Can you give us 5 quirky, secret, fun, (don't think too much about this) hobbies or passions?
1. Miniatures. I’m obsessed with these instagram accounts of artists who build dollhouses and paint tiny food, furniture, etc. I imagine it’s therapeutic! I’m contemplating making this a hobby but, being an extremist, I bet I would start building dollhouses and learning all sorts of painting techniques. Not sure I have the time right now.
2. I love my cats Rammy and Leem. When I come home from teaching, they help me stay present because they don’t care if I've had a long day or I’m tired. They still need to eat, get brushed, and be loved! My husband and I adore them.
3. Topics I have read too much about because I find them very interesting: the Amish, North Korea, how to apply smoky eye shadow, Marie Antoinette’s life at Versailles, and Wallace Simpson.
4. I really enjoy cooking, especially Japanese food. My kitchen has all the staples including rice vinegar, sake, mirin, sesame oil, bonito flakes, panko, kombu, and tofu.
5. I love handwriting and calligraphy. I am terrible in visual art but (not to brag) have gotten compliments on my handwriting.
What 4 things would you offer as advice for a young flutist?
Practice slowly and bring up the tempo gradually.
Tension holds back many things. Be aware of any tension you have while playing and do all you can to get rid of it.
There are three things to think about when you have a bad tone day: air pressure, air angle, and support. Experiment.
If you get frustrated in a practice session, take a break. This always seems to help.