Brittany Trotter Artist Interview
Prize-winning flutist Dr. Brittany Trotter leads a diverse career as an educator, soloist, and collaborator. She is the Assistant Professor of Practice in Flute at the University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music in Stockton, CA. Recipient of the NFA’s 2020 Graduate Research Competition for her dissertation entitled, Examining Music Hybridity and Cultural Influences in Valerie Coleman’s Wish Sonatine and Fanmi Imen, Trotter continues to actively study the merging of western classical music, diverse culture, and modern popular music.
Can you give us 5 career highlights?
Having graduated with my DMA in December of 2019, I would say I am just over the starting-line in my career. Given this, I have been blessed with opportunities that has propelled and shaped my career to where it is now.
Top on the list is my recent appointment of Assistant Professor of Practice in Flute at the University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music in beautiful Stockton, CA. Becoming a full-time professor has been a dream of mine since I was a sophomore in college. It is a joy and a privilege to be able to collaborate with such remarkable colleagues and help mentor the next generation of musicians.
Another is being a featured performer at the National Flute Association’s Summer Series Celebration recital program. It was so inspiring to view virtual concerts featuring such amazingly talented Black flutists, and to be amongst them was an honor. Jennifer Grim and the board of NFA did such an amazing job curating this virtual event and it was truly the best thing to have happen in 2020. I was also a winner of the NFA’s Graduate Research competition and presented my dissertation entitled “Examining Musical Hybridity and Cultural Influences in Valerie Coleman’s Wish Sonatine and Fanmi Imén.” Being recognized for my academic writing in addition to my performance was such a monumental catapult for my career.
My other career highlights occurred as I was working as a Teaching Artist and freelancing in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2021, I was chosen as one recipients of the Unisound’s Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence program where I collaborated with Lyn Starr, rapper and R&B singer, on a concert highlighting the fusion of hip-hop and classical music. This concert was a combination of my research and experience working as a teaching artist with Guardians of Sound’s Hip Hop Orchestra Summer Music Camp.
How about 3 pivotal moments that were essential to creating the artist that you've become?
- The moment I first picked up the flute in the sixth grade.
- Crying in my former flute professor’s office during a lesson and him telling me, “I think you will be successful as performing major.”
- Meeting my best friend Justin Massey during my doctoral studies. He was my support system throughout my studies and is a constant help to me from proofreading my cover letters, editing my performance videos, and helping me with technology.
What do you like best about performing?
I truly enjoy the rush of adrenaline and the sense of unbashful freedom of baring my heart and soul into each performance.
This summer I will be working on recording my debut album of electro-acoustic works featuring Black composers. I was inspired to start this project after performing several flute and electronic pieces during my doctoral studies and recently spending the summer reading several Afro-futurism genre books including Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” and Tomi Adeyemi’s “Children of Blood and Bone.”
What does your schedule look like for the next 6 months?
I have several performances and workshops scheduled this summer including being the featured guest artists for the Wyoming Summer Flute Intensive at the University of Wyoming, performing at an all-women production of Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar in Pittsburgh, PA, and three performances at the National Flute Convention in Chicago, IL.
Starting in the fall, I will be assuming the role of Program Director for Woodwinds at the Conservatory of Music. I am exciting to be afforded a leadership role at the university and looking forward to implementing creative projects and program to contribute to the flourishing music culture at the University of the Pacific.
What are your goals personally? Professionally?
My personal goal is to run my first marathon in the fall of 2022. I have spent the majority of the beginning of 2022 training for a half-marathon, and it has improved my physical and mental wellbeing.
Professionally, I aspire to take more orchestral auditions, write a method book, record a CD, and continue to be become more involved in leadership committees at the institution I serve.
What inspires you the most in life?
Watching and collaborating with creative musicians and artists who elevate and transcend their artform. Another inspiration are my students because they inspire me to hone my pedagogical and artistic crafts.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I occasionally struggle with imposter syndrome, an internal experience of believing that I am not as competent as others perceive me to be. Even when receiving this invitation to be interviewed, I initially thought to myself “Oh wow, The Flute View wants to interview me?” Although I believe that aspects of my struggle with imposter syndrome helps to motivate me and push me to continue to achieve, I do recognize over time that I am deserving of my accomplishments.
Who were your music mentors? and what did you learn from them?
My former flute professors have influenced so much in my playing and pedagogy. I am so grateful for their guidance and continued support.
I am so lucky to have met and studied with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra flutist, Jennifer Steele. She is such a delightful person and has really helped me in finding the joy in my sound.
Valerie Coleman has always and will always be just an absolute G.O.A.T to me. I learned how to display grace, poise, energy, and black girl magic in my performances and lectures.
Can you give us 5 quirky, secret, fun, (don't think too much about this) hobbies or passions?
I am addicted to watching TikTok videos, binging tv shows on streaming services, taking photos of my cat, hiking with friends, and I completely obsessed with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What 3 things would you offer as advice for a young flutist?
- Network inside and outside of your community. One of the best ways to break into a new “scene” is to network with people outside of your instrument and discipline.
- Stay persistent. I have received many rejection letters, however, those rejections helped me to hone my skills and push me to where I am now. One of the best advice I ever received was “You don’t have to beat everyone, you just got to outlast them.”
- Enjoy the ride. In this social media world, it so easy for our anxiety to peak especially when we scroll and see the success of our colleagues. Be genuinely supportive of others and keep troughing on your route. Celebrate your small wins as much as your big wins. We are all growing into ourselves -- enjoy the process.