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Suzanne Kirton, Principal Flute

Suzanne Kirton, began music studies as a child on piano, but when she was a high school sophomore she became enchanted by the flute's sound and decided to make that her instrument. Upon graduation she was accepted at the Juilliard School and studied with Sam Baron her freshman year.

Kirton earned a B.M. degree from Florida State University, her M.M. degree from the Boston Conservatory and a Professional Studies Diploma from the Juilliard School. She has taken master classes and studied privately with a number of great teachers, including Sir James Galway, Julius Baker, Robert Stallman, Leone Buyse and Geoffrey Gilbert.

Prior to Naples, Kirton was principal flutist for the Symphonia Virtuosi and the Rome Festival Orchestra. In 1994, Kirton was a finalist in the International Flute Competition in Budapest, Hungary.

As a soloist with the Naples Philharmonic, Kirton performed the Vivaldi Flute Concerto in D with Keith Lockhart conducting (1994). She performed it again in 2007 at Festival Miami. In 2000, she performed the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto, along with principal harpist Dickie Fleisher. She has also soloed with the Philharmonic Baroque Ensemble, performing the Bach Suite No. 2 in B Minor in 1995, 1996 and 2002.

Kirton has been an adjunct professor at Florida International University for several years, has freelanced extensively in the Miami area and maintains a private studio in Naples. She may be heard on CD in Music Minus One's Bolling Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio.

Kirton and her husband are proud parents of a daughter Giszelle and son Iain. They also have three loquacious African Grey Parrots, two dogs and a cat. Kirton has been principal flutist of the Naples Philharmonic since 1993.

Suzanne Kirton is underwritten by The Martin Foundation, Inc.

Name: Suzanne Kirton

Instrument: Flute

Hometown: Miami, FL

At what age did you begin playing your instrument? I began piano at 6 and flute at 15.

Who have been your greatest musical influences? This is a tough question to answer – there are so many, and they are so varied. I loved to listen to Maria Callas' arias, as well as other singers. I love to listen to great jazz artists, mostly woodwind players, also. I admire James Galway's flute playing as well as so many other flutists: Rampal, Julius Baker, Hubert Laws – the list is too long to type and read.

Who are your favorite composers? Beethoven, Debussy, Bach, Ravel.

What career path would you have taken had you not chosen music? Something science- or health-related.

What's currently playing on your iPod or CD player? Tito Puente, Dave Valentin, Jacques Zoon, James Galway.

Your hobbies and interests: Since I have two small children these would have to be listed as hobbies/interests. I used to keep a large saltwater reef tank – very difficult but beautiful, as well as study astrology in depth.

Some little-known, yet interesting facts about you: I once wanted to become a forest ranger and decided it was too difficult a degree to pursue, plus I couldn't stop playing the flute.

Funniest concert moment: Probably when our principal oboist gave the tuning note and for some reason I decided to play a note other than A. I even got a laugh from the concertmaster. Or maybe when I decided to try an alternate fingering in a concert to improve the pitch of a note, giving a delicate passage a new microtonal interpretation.

Daily practice rituals: When I practice, I must get to the difficult parts and work those out so I would say I search through the music for the unplayable and try to make it playable. Other than that, I would play the melodies and try to understand the emotion behind the music.

The question you're asked most often about your instrument (and your answer): I guess it is a question about whether a person blows into the flute like a recorder: "How does the flute make its sound?" My answer: "Have you ever blown across a soda bottle and gotten a sound? Then you can play the flute."

Your favorite part about playing in the Naples Philharmonic: The relaxed atmosphere – really un-pressured and positive for the most part, as well as the beautiful hall that we are so lucky to rehearse and perform in. Also, the variety of music. We do a little of the ballet repertoire, a little of the opera repertoire as well as our symphonic repertoire.

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