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Musician fosters interest in historic flutes

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Historical flute player Mika Putterman shows off some of her collection. (Heather Solomon photo)

The silver flute no longer held any allure for Mika Putterman, after she experienced the warm, storied sounds of the wooden variety.

“I played one note and could feel the vibration under my fingers. The whole instrument resonated,” she says of her first baroque flute experience in the 1990s. “I thought, ‘This is my instrument.’ And I never touched the other flute again.”

As her relationship with antique flutes developed through her studies at McGill University and the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Belgium, she accumulated a collection, the oldest of which was made in 1780. Growing along with her collection was her desire to play music as it sounded in its era.

“It’s a niche and a passion of mine,” she says of her penchant for period sounds.

She formed a concert series called Autour de la flute, which features classical music played with historic instruments, in order to give the pieces a more authentic sound. During the concerts, the flutist fascinates audiences with descriptions of how the flute developed over time.

Autour de la flute is celebrating its 15 season this year.

Putterman did not let having four children, two of them twins, get in the way of her music. Rather, she got them involved, too.

Aged eight to 13, they are enrolled in a musically focused Waldorf school in Montreal and all enjoy “jamming” together on flute, violin and cello. Putterman’s husband, Julien Saulgrain, is adept at the piano and for the first time will accompany his wife on an Érard fortepiano at their Dec. 6 concert at Salle Bourgie. Putterman will be playing a Tulou flute, with series co-ordinator Aleks Schürmer on a Boehm flute.

For the first time, Putterman has added concerts in private residences to the season
line-up. The next one, on Nov. 16  will see baroque oboist Christopher Palameta joining the flutist.

“I want to bring classical music to people in a much more intimate way, so that they feel a part of it and hear it close up,” says Putterman, who aims to introduce and maintain music in people’s lives.

Another in-home concert follows on Feb. 5, featuring guest artists Les Voix Humaines with Putterman on baroque flute and Susie Napper and Margaret Little on viola da gamba.

The season’s two final concerts are March 31 and May 6 at the much larger Espace Knox in NDG, both featuring Putterman on ivory flute and Gili Loftus on pianoforte.

“Fewer people may listen to classical music because the CBC decided to cut it from their programming, governments are cutting funding and many schools have cut their music programs. Now the medium is YouTube and videos,” says Putterman.

Not to be left behind, she has made nine videos for Noncerto, a cultural music video channel. The videos are accessible through her website, autourdelaflute.com.

Some are set outdoors, like the meditative and relaxing music video showing the flutist accompanied by a guitarist, while wandering a charming ruelle that is adorned with a seashell fountain and a wishing well.

READ: PIANIST PLAYS HIGH AND LOW NOTES OF HER MOTHER’S LIFE

She’s also recorded as a soloist with other ensembles for early-music.com and ATMA Classique.

Analekta, the largest classical label in Canada, will release Putterman’s newest album of Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn pieces played how they would have been in Mendelssohn’s time.

“I specialize in historically informed performance and there’s an acronym for that: HIP,” says Putterman, who has certainly made it hip to hear music as it sounded in its era. 

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