Louis Papachristos Artist Interview

Canadian Flutist, Louis Papachristos, has performed internationally as a soloist and chamber musician, having had the privilege to collaborate and perform with some of the world’s finest conductors and artists including Sir Andrew Davis, James De Preist, Jose Luis Garcia, The Amici Ensemble, and The St. Lawrence String Quartet. Louis is frequently heard on standard/satellite radio broadcasts and online streaming platforms as a result of live performances and diverse musical CD projects that have reached gold record certification status. As an advocate for the next generation of flutists and music lovers, Louis continues to be a guest adjudicator for The Glenn Gould School & The Taylor Academy at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, a faculty member at The Creating Resonance Retreat in New York, and a passionate educator for the Toronto District School Board working with students of all ages.

Can you give us 5 career highlights?

The things I consider my career highlights are:

  • Stepping on stage to perform at world class halls, such as Avery Fisher Hall in New York City or Place Des Arts in Montreal for the first time.
  • Hearing a radio broadcast of one of my recitals for the first time on public radio
  • Having one of the recording projects I have been involved with receive a gold record
  • Working with world class artists and engineers in different recording studios
  • Helping students get to the next level professionally and in life

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

  • Hearing Sir James Galway perform live for the first time with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra when I was 10 years old. I turned to my parents and the family friend who invited us to the concert and said, “I want to do what that guy is doing”.......I had no idea who “that guy” was!!
  • My very first lesson with Mr. Julius Baker at his home in Brewster, New York when I was 16 years old, two years before I got accepted to study with him at Juilliard. It was a full day lesson that I will never forget as he and his wife Ruth made me feel so welcome. Mrs. Baker picked me up from the train station in Brewster and brought me back to the house. Mr. Baker had this wonderful little studio away from the main house and the things that he taught me that day still stick with me today. The impact of hearing him right in front of me for the first time can’t be put into words. The lesson and the stories he shared with me that day were life changing and I still remember the pictures of him with so many world class artists hanging on the walls.
  • Recognizing that it was time to take a break from playing the flute. Little did I know that it would be an almost 15 year break. Things never take a simple path in life but I truly believe they do happen for a reason!

What do you like best about performing?

I love the mindful preparation leading up to a performance and the diverse experience it provides you with each time you step on stage. For me it's about getting a program to the point where I am so well prepared that I am able to be present and actually listen to myself making different musical decisions during the performance. I have found that as a result, I begin to experience an energy created in the moment by being both the performer and, in some way, a member of the audience, hopefully being emotionally moved. I can’t get enough of it!

CD releases?

I have been blessed to have been a part of many diverse recording projects over the years with some amazing musicians who are wonderful people. Some of the releases have even become gold records…..they have been in all styles including classical, jazz, big band, rock, easy listening, aromatherapy, children’s lullabies, holiday albums…..name a style and I think I’ve recorded it somewhere!

I was recently part of a Nashville release by Lucid Artists called “A Great & Mighty Wonder” produced by Steve Wingfield who is a dear friend of mine. It currently holds the #1 spot on the US Parable National Retail Chart.

In addition, I am about to release a solo crossover album called “Twelve”. The album is based on 12 cover pop tunes that have a special meaning in my life. Each tune will be released monthly along with a story. Stay tuned for more information regarding the release dates!!

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

Obviously the current Covid pandemic has brought on many changes and challenges for anyone in the arts. Like many others, I needed to switch my focus from having opportunities to perform live to focusing my energy on studio work, teaching virtually both privately and at online festivals. I have been very fortunate enough to have a recording studio at home which was built about 10 years ago and this made it a little easier to keep on working over the past two years. So, as we now hopefully begin to come out of this pandemic, my schedule for the next 6 months is still primarily full of studio projects and recordings that I have agreed to be a part of both as a flutist and producer, in addition to in person teaching, and some live performances.

What are your goals personally?  Professionally?

I tend to think or work on one goal at a time these days.

My personal goal at this time is to be more present in the moment at home in order to assist and encourage my children to achieve their goals in life and to enjoy every moment that I am able to spend with my entire family. Reminding myself to not take things for granted!

My professional goal at this time is to always be open to learning as much as possible from others in any given situation in order to be able to continue to develop as an artist, collaborator, and educator. By doing so, hopefully I am able to continue to help others to do the same. I really do think it comes down to valuing and respecting the relationships we build on a daily basis.

What inspires you the most in life?

Our youth inspires me the most these days and they make me want to get up and work each morning! I look at what they have been through in the last two years during this pandemic and I am absolutely amazed at how resilient and motivated they have continued to be during these challenging times. I applaud and thank them.

What have been your professional and personal greatest challenges?

My greatest challenge has always been and continues to be the same in both my professional and personal life and it's all connected…..it's finding balance. It’s about being honest with myself by doing everything in moderation and recognizing and accepting my limits. I continue to work at this daily in order to ease my anxiety and better my mental health.

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

I have had the privilege to learn so many wonderful things from many great flutists, musicians, and people over the last 50 years. However the ones that come to mind immediately when asked this question are:

  • My father, Danny Papachristos, who is a retired music teacher. He gave me my love for music and taught me the value of hard work and to always believe in myself.
  • Douglas Stewart, who is the principal flutist of the Canadian Opera Company and my very first advanced flute teacher. He is a wonderful musician and teacher who was able to explain and demonstrate things to me in a way that I found so easy to understand and implement. Not to mention he had a way of being brutally honest whenever it was needed. He taught me how to use my body properly in order to produce the sound I heard in my head and to this day I still go and play for him before any performance whenever it's possible.
  • Samuel Baron, who was part of the flute faculty at Juilliard, a founding member of the New York Woodwind Quintet, and one of my woodwind quintet coaches during my time in New York. Mr. Baron was a wonderful kind man who taught me how to be a more unselfish chamber music partner and to really listen and appreciate everyone else in the ensemble during a time when I thought nothing but my flute sound mattered!
  • Professor David Zafer, who was the chair of the violin faculty at the University of Toronto, and Jose Luis Garcia, who was the concertmaster of the English Chamber Orchestra. These two gentlemen taught me many things about music that had absolutely nothing to do with playing the flute. To this date I am still grateful for being allowed to attend and even play at the famous Friday night masterclasses that I know a lot of my violin friends dreaded.
  • Geoff Nuttall, who is the first violinist and founding member of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, was my roommate in New York during our time at Juilliard and a dear friend from Toronto. He owns the largest collection of vinyl that I have ever seen which includes seriously diverse musical genres. He would tell me that I did not listen to enough music and it showed in my playing. So from Geoff, I developed a love for vinyl, which I have passed on to my children, not to mention a love for many different styles of music!!

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

My hobbies, which I am absolutely crazy about, are golfing, biking, and coffee! I can’t get enough of all three of them!! My passions, which started way back in the 1970’s when my dad owned a recording studio, are studio engineering and finding vintage analog recording equipment which drives my wife nuts when I purchase something I have found online!!

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

Here is the advice I offer my students:

  • Always be open to learning from everyone you meet no matter who they are or what they do, you will learn something.
  • Find your passion in this musical world by asking yourself what you want to do and, more importantly, what you don’t want to do. There is enough room for all of us to find where we fit in if we know what we want and then do everything possible to explore it to the fullest by being open to different opportunities.
  • Learn how to play in front of a microphone properly in a studio setting and take the time to explore how you would like to sound when you are recorded. In this age of advanced technology everyone has some sort of home studio setup and should take the time to find their “recorded sound” using the simple hardware and software tools that are available to everyone these days. This is just as important as practicing your scales and it will be appreciated if you are ever in a studio situation!

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