Humans of the MET: From Snowy Winters to Frost

by Katherine Anderson, violist

Joining the MET Orchestra as second flute in 1976, Trudy Kane subsequently served as Principal Flute until 2008. At that point, she decided to focus her efforts on training the next generation of flutists, and joined he University of Miami Frost School of Music as Associate Professor of Flute. In the latest installment of Humans of the MET, Katherine Anderson discussed Trudy’s musical upbringing, her experiences at the Met, and the transition into full-time teaching.

Master class at the Boston Flute Academy

Master class at the Boston Flute Academy

Katherine Anderson: Who were your earliest mentors and teachers?

Trudy Kane: Both of my parents were music teachers, and my dad was my first piano and flute teacher. He was a big inspiration - his love for music was contagious. Apparently, I announced in kindergarten that I wanted to go into music!

KA: Do you have any other favorite memories from your childhood?

TK: Oh, yes! Every Saturday until I was 12 years old, I attended the Hartford Conservatory - it was my favorite day of the week. Then we moved to Long Island and my parents drove me into NYC every other week to study with Harold Bennett, who had just retired as principal flute of the MET Orchestra. Harold was my hero and a fabulous teacher!

KA: Is that when you started to fall in love with opera?

TK: Actually, that happened later. I spent a few summers during my college years playing at the Spoleto Festival, in Italy, and at the Lake George Opera. That's when I fell in love with opera. 

KA: Was the Met your first full-time job?

TK: No. My first full-time job was playing Treemonisha on Broadway. I also worked as a substitute with the New York Philharmonic. I had been the runner-up in an audition, and Pierre Boulez, who was the Music Director at the time, put me at the top of the sub list. For two years, I played in every position in the orchestra. In 1976, when I was 25, I started at the Met in the second flute position. Shortly after I started the job, the Principal Flutist, Jimmy Politis, became very ill, and I began playing principal. At the end of the season I officially auditioned and won the principal job.

At the 2013 National Flute Convention

At the 2013 National Flute Convention

KA: What are some of your fondest memories of your years at the Met?

TK: The first thing that comes to mind is how wonderful it was to go to work and make music on such a high level, and, over the years, to watch the orchestra grow and get better and better. The level of playing is extraordinary! It was also such a pleasure to be able to hear amazing singers such as Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland, and Plácido Domingo, just to name a few, and to work with some great conductors.

KA: How did you make the decision to retire?

TK: Very truthfully, I was tired, and the physical demands of the job were getting to be too much. 

KA: And why did you choose Miami? (Aside from the obvious difference in climate!)

TK: I was asked to give a master class at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. I enjoyed it immensely and applied for the position.

KA: Is teaching something you've always enjoyed?

TK: Oh, yes. I've been teaching since I was in the seventh grade! Also, the Frost School of Music is a very special, warm and supportive place. We're like a family, both the faculty and the students. My role here is different from when I did only private teaching...I am also an advisor and a mentor.

KA: And, speaking of teaching, I heard that the Frost School recently presented you with an award for excellence in teaching. Congratulations!

TK: Thank you! It was quite an honor.

KA: What inspired you to begin transcribing opera music for flute ensembles?

With students after a Frost Flute Ensemble concert

With students after a Frost Flute Ensemble concert

TK: They always say, “Write what you know.” I'd already transcribed some opera music for flute quartets years ago. Somehow it came to me that the second act of La bohème would be wonderful for a flute ensemble because there are so many different styles of making music throughout the act. It was fabulous to hear them play! If I'm going to share what I know, this is a great way to do it. My most recent arrangement is of the Prologue from Pagliacci, for baritone and flute ensemble. The wonderful bass-baritone Kevin Short, who is on our faculty, will be performing with the ensemble.

KA: Are you able to find time to perform?

TK: Yes! I regularly give recitals and concerts, sometimes performing with my students. Last year, the Frost School commissioned a flute concerto for me. The composer I chose was Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and she wrote an incredible piece, Concerto Elegia, which I performed with the Frost Symphony Orchestra last April. We recorded it as well.

KA: One last question: Where did you and your husband, Ed, meet?

TK: We met online, on Ed said he loved the New York Times, books, and Bach preludes and fugues...I loved that! He has a great sense of humor and he loved music and opera long before we were together. He's also a fabulous amateur pianist and photographer.

KA: That's wonderful, Trudy! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and a big thank you to Ed for his beautiful pictures of you.