Humans of the MET: Érik Gratton, Beekeeper Extraordinaire

by Katherine Anderson, violist

Acting Principal Flute Érik Gratton, a native of Montréal, has served as Principal Flute of the Nashville Symphony since 1997. Here, he shares with violist Katherine Anderson his experiences as an employed person in New York City, the challenges of a long-distance marriage, and his many hobbies (such as beekeeping!).

Katherine Anderson: Why were you interested in coming to fill the one year principal flute position in the MET Orchestra?

EG: I have always liked operas, but had actually only played just a few of them before this year. I thought it would be a great experience to discover and learn new repertoire, not to mention working with great musicians and singers.

KA: After mostly playing orchestral repertoire, what has surprised you about playing in an opera orchestra?

EG: What has been surprising and different is that, as a member of an opera orchestra, you are just a minuscule part of a huge production, but even so, everything you do really matters! The MET Orchestra is full of amazing players, but what makes them so great is not how they play as much as how they listen to each other and the singers. That is what brings everything together.

KA: Have you enjoyed being in NYC?

EG: I lived in NYC when I was in school, so it was not unfamiliar, but it is a very different experience to live here when you have a job. I have really enjoyed the city's vibrant art and culture scene and I have appreciated the freedom to discover new places by foot. 

KA: How have you and your wife Erin worked out the commute from Nashville?

Érik and Erin

Érik and Erin

EG: We've been married for 16 years and we knew from the start that this year would not be easy, living apart. Erin is Assistant Concertmaster with the Nashville Symphony and has always been very supportive of me, and she knew, being a musician, that this kind of opportunity is hard to pass on. We have made the best of our time together when she comes to visit. I have learned a lot from her.

KA: I've heard that you have an interesting hobby—beekeeping! Can you tell me how that interest started?

EG: I have always had a sweet tooth and absolutely love honey! Years ago I saw a show on PBS about backyard beekeeping. A couple of weeks later I nonchalantly mentioned to Erin how great it would be to have bees in our yard, not expecting anything from it. Being adventurous, she said, "Sure!" That's how I started. Bees are fascinating creatures. You don't need to be a beekeeper to appreciate everything they do for us.

KA: Is there anything else you'd like to share about your time here at the Met or about other interests outside of music?

EG: In my spare time I also enjoy woodworking as well as cooking and baking with Erin. 

As far as spending this season playing in the MET Orchestra, I have really enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends. I appreciate the time I spent here and how supportive and welcoming everyone has been with me. This is a fantastic organization with great people behind it and it was an honor to be part of the MET Orchestra for a year.

KA: Érik, it's been a pleasure having you here, hearing your beautiful playing and getting to know you. We hope that you and Erin will come back and visit!