Jennifer Grim Artist Interview

Hailed as "a deft, smooth flute soloist" by the New York Times, Jennifer Grim's remarkable depth and breadth as a performer of solo and chamber repertoire has gained broad national acclaim. She has performed with such renowned ensembles as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble and is the flutist of the award-winning Zéphyros Winds and the New York Chamber Soloists. She also serves as Principal Flute of the Mozart Orchestra of New York and the Santo Domingo Festival Orchestra and has given solo and chamber performances throughout the United States and in China, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Ms. Grim has performed as a soloist with the Lviv Philharmonic, Boca Raton Symphonia, Frost Wind Ensemble, UNLV Symphony Orchestra, Henderson Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Summer Music Festival, among others. As a guest artist, she has performed with the Boston Chamber Music Society, Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival, and the American String Quartet with harpist Nancy Allen. With Zéphyros Winds, Ms. Grim recently performed the American premiere of the Wolfgang Rihm Wind Quintet in New York City at the Music in Midtown Chamber Music Series. The ensemble has also held residencies at the Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, Stanford University, Yale School of Music, San Francisco State University, Brigham Young University, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Skidmore College, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Brandeis University.

An avid baroque flutist, Ms. Grim studied with renowned artists in New York, Boston, and Amsterdam and is a member of Cosmopolitan Baroque. The ensemble has been in residence at UNLV and Dixie State College. In 2017, Ms. Grim was honored with the Teacher of the Year Award from the UNLV College of Fine Arts. In demand as a clinician, she has given masterclasses across the country, specializing in both solo and chamber music. 

A passionate advocate of diversity initiatives in the field of classical music, Ms. Grim has programmed a series of concerts featuring African American, Latin American, and Latino composers, leading to solo performances of works by Diego Vega, David Sanford, and Valerie Coleman, among others. She has also worked with the YOLA National Festival, which invites students from El Sistema inspired programs across the United States to perform in a national youth orchestra performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California.

Ms. Grim is currently Associate Professor at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. She previously served on the faculty of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for twelve years. A native of Berkeley, California, Ms. Grim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Yale University. Ms. Grim currently serves on the Board of Directors of Chamber Music America and the National Flute Association. 

Can you share with us 5 career highlights?

1. Winning the flute position with Zéphyros Winds, an ensemble that I have been with for almost 20 years.

2. Founding the UNLV Chamber Music Society in 2012. I programmed each of the concerts which involved faculty and guest artists.

3. Being asked to be the Program Chair for the 2020 NFA Convention.

4. Winning the flute job at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

5. Performing the Liebermann Flute Concerto with the Frost Wind Ensemble.

How about 3 pivotal moments that were essential to creating the artist that you've become?

The first was being a member of the San Francisco Youth Symphony while I was an undergrad at Stanford University. While I was not a music major, I was constantly surrounded by colleagues who lived and breathed it. I looked forward to every Saturday where I could be inspired and motivated by musicians my same age who had much more experience. Their enthusiasm and support eventually allowed me to take the leap into pursuing music as a career. They helped me believe that I could do it, and I am forever grateful.

The second was getting accepted to the Yale School of Music. I had taken a year off of school after getting my undergraduate degree and tried to prepare for graduate school auditions. I wanted to go to school in another part of the country and had no idea how unprepared I was. When I found out that I got accepted into Yale, I felt that it was a second chance for me and my pursuit of music.

More recently, I started teaching at a summer festival hosted by the LA Phil. This festival, now known as the YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles) National Festival, brings together students from El Sistema programs from across the country. Many of these students are African American and Latinx and come from underrepresented areas that do not have the same resources that other students have. During the first year of this festival, I realized that many of these students had not seen or interacted with a professional musician that looked like them, and I did not realize how powerful this can be for a young person (or anyone, really). I realized that I need to be as visible and present as I can for younger students of color. I did not have any role models that looked like me growing up, and I suddenly found out that I served that purpose to others. I don’t necessarily feel like I earned that title, but I know by just being present and visible, it can show others that it’s possible.

What do you like best about teaching?

I enjoy watching my students develop into unique and expressive beings. Teaching at the university level, I work with students from ages 17 to around 30, which is such a pivotal point in one’s development. It’s fascinating to watch the students enter college as kids and leave as mature professionals. I also enjoy learning from them and trying to adapt my teaching based on their experiences.

What do you like best about performing?

I feel that I am better able to express myself through music than in I do in everyday life, so I enjoy the opportunity to “break out of my shell.”

CD releases?

Not yet, hopefully some day!

What does your schedule look like for the next 6 months?

NFA (I am the Program Chair for the 2020 convention in Dallas)



And more NFA

Plus a couple of recital tours with my pianist, Katie Leung and my wind quintet, Zéphyros Winds.

What are your goals personally?  Professionally?

I really want to make a solo recording. I haven’t had the finances or the resources to make any kind of recordings until now. I hope to finally be able to make a recording of works by Black composers for flute and piano.

What inspires you the most in life?

The faculty at the Frost School of Music are pretty amazing. Having colleagues that continually inspire you (i.e. Valerie Coleman!) is very motivational.

I am also inspired by my chamber music colleagues. My wind quintet members are some of the best chamber musicians I have ever worked with. Each performance is an opportunity for me to try to match their artistry. I hear something magical in every phrase they play, and it inspires me to do the same. I am also humbly inspired by string players who have a rich history of repertoire and pedagogy from which to draw. They think about every note and articulation, and how different fingerings bring about a variety of colors. I try to bring as much of this practice into my own playing.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Feelings of imposter syndrome. Getting a late start in music has always been my Achilles heel, which affects my confidence. It is still difficult for me to be confident on stage, but I have to remember that I am my harshest critic. No one is going to care as much about my performance as I do, so I should not beat myself up over it.

What can you tell us about Artists for Social Change?

A lot of people are feeling uneasy about what’s going on in the world right now. While I can’t do much, I do feel that it is my DUTY to do what I can, and for me it is to help provide access to music education to everyone and increasing awareness of music by women, POC (people of color), LGTBQ communities. We can all do something, whether it is programming a piece by a female, POC, LGTBQ composer on a recital, or incorporating this repertoire into our curriculum. The more that this music gets performed, the more likely that it will eventually become standardized into our repertoire. We should also be thinking about redefining quality. Why aren’t more female or POC composers being programmed at symphony concerts or taught in music programs? I spent twelve years in Las Vegas, where mariachi music was taught in the public schools. I now live in Miami, where Latin music is everywhere. Should salsa music be a part of the regular curriculum of my flute students at the University of Miami? Maybe so.

Who were your music mentors?  and what did you learn from them?

My teacher at Stanford University, Alexandra Hawley. She was a wonderful mentor and inspiration to me as I switched majors and started studying music with an aim towards graduate school. She instilled a lot of the practice habits that I share with my own students.

My teacher at Yale, Ransom Wilson who saw potential in me that I didn’t even see. Our lessons were so informative and motivating, and he was a very serious teacher, which I needed. I knew that he took a chance on me and I tried my best not to disappoint him. I owe everything that I have achieved in my career to him.

My colleagues in my quintet Zéphyros Winds, both past and present. These were some of the best chamber musicians I have ever worked with, and I still learn from them at each concert.

Can you give us 5 quirky, secret, fun, (don't think too much about this) hobbies or passions?

I am a runner. I ran the New York City Marathon 10 years ago and want to try to do it again, but it gets more difficult every year (getting older is no fun).

My mom took me to ballet classes from when I was 4 until I left for college. I’d like to take some dance classes again, but it might need to wait until after NFA 2020.

I need more hobbies…

What 3 things would you offer as advice for a young flutist?

1. It’s OK to feel insecure. Most of us feel that way a lot of the time. I find that most of the time it is because I am not as prepared as I should which is great reminder of the work I still have to do!

2. Build relationships with your peers at school. You will find that the music world is small, and many of your future colleagues are people in your current school program.

3. Believe in yourself!

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