Noemi Gyori, flautist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I started to play the flute because I was enchanted by the instrument that I saw in the hands of my good friend, a dear neighbour, who was only a few years older than me. The sound of the flute was magical to me and it remains the same today. It is a terrific feeling to make music with the breath; I find it truly personal and uplifting. I clearly remember when I produced the first sounds and then played the first songs on my own instrument. I was just eight years old but knew instantly that this was ‘it’ for me.

I was extremely lucky to have one outstanding teacher after the other, and I have met and worked with so many extraordinary musicians over the past decades. But my most important influence is definitely my husband, Gergely Madaras. Apart from being an absolutely amazing partner and father to our children, Gergely is the most expressive, inspirational and versatile conductor and musician. He is full of positivity, drive, enthusiasm and is never shy to work hard. He also has the craziest perfect-pitch hearing that I have ever encountered – it’s a phenomenal gift. Having him as my life-partner is an endless source of motivation.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Interestingly, I have been asked this question many times before in interviews. I used to pinpoint various long-lasting difficulties I experienced that have prevented me from proceeding with my career the way I had hoped it would, but today I would say that life in general is full of challenges. These range from health problems to family issues, career to financial hardships, global pandemics to so much more. There are only short periods in my experience when everything is just the way it ‘should be’. Part of growing up in my eyes means to embrace this fact and prove that the desire to make music and the positive powers of music-making can overcome all obstacles.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I really put all my heart into every performance and recording, so it is hard to pinpoint one or two that I am most proud of. I certainly am extremely excited about my upcoming new release, an album of music by the brothers Franz and Karl Doppler, as well as Friedrich Kuhlau – which I recorded for Rubicon Classics with pianist Alexander Ullman and my husband (this time playing the flute and not conducting!). Making music with Gergely and Alex made me feel very much at home, and I’m really proud of the result: I feel we created an album that bursts with energy, is full of colours and intuitive chamber music playing that enabled us to go for the extremes. We were able to highlight every corner of these romantic pieces that are so full of humour and emotions and are also supremely virtuosic. I cannot wait to share the results with all of you – the album is out in April!

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

I am an absolute musical omnivore. I guess that is inevitable as a flautist: you must be able to master all types of repertoire in order to lead a successful, international concert career with this instrument. However, I recently finished my doctorate in flute performance practice at the Royal Academy of Music, and as part of my artistic and research project, I have been working in close detail on pieces by Viennese classical composers. In general I feel very connected to the style and music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven at the moment.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

I spend time with my children and enjoy going to galleries as well as to dance shows and theatre. It is obvious to me that quality art in any form is a great source of inspiration. However, I never expected that my children would inspire me so deeply and make me aware of so much detail in the world around us. Their curiosity, the way they question everything and gain their knowledge every moment of the day, motivates me endlessly. I feel they help me see the world and therefore each piece of music with fresh eyes, to experience life with a genuine lustiness, alertness and joy.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I am always curious to present new pieces, new discoveries or well-known repertoire, but in a new context. Therefore I love to read and research extensively about different composers, compositions and performers from the past. I usually go with the flow of my discoveries and build my season around them. I am also a very quick learner, so I am often asked to jump in for things– these occasions add the extra spice to my musical menu for the year.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Although I only played there once, I found it a particularly beautiful experience to play in the Salle de Musique de Chambre at the Philharmonie Luxembourg. I felt that the arching ceiling was projecting the sound of the flute very naturally and I loved the colours and modern geometrical shapes of the architecture. Apart from this beautiful place, my all-time favourites are Carnegie Hall, the Mozart Saal in Vienna’s Konzerthaus and the Great Hall of the Liszt Academy in Budapest.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?

I guess each of us, practising performing artists, has a responsibility to make sure we connect to and nurture our audiences. Apart from bringing quality music-making to the stage, the way we pay attention to our listeners both in concert and in our everyday lives has a great impact on their motivation to come to live concerts, especially under current circumstances.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

The reason why I enjoy being a musician is because I am able to live through so many memorable moments both on and off stage. Apart from these beautiful moments, it would be amusing to make a list of all the unusual experiences I have had before and during concerts – stories of broken and lost instruments, concerts with a replacement tooth, missed flights, playing while being pregnant or performing while having sick children, malfunctioning lights, collapsing stages, snowstorms and a lot more besides. I am sure the list of places one ends up practising or rehearsing would also prove entertaining. These range from attics to basements, riding-halls to castles, meadows to car seats or train coaches – the list goes on and on….

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

If I am able to convey my most profound interpretation of a piece in my performance and I feel that the audience is moved by it. This grows from the right energy exchange, which also plays a fundamental part in successful collaboration on stage with other musicians.

What is your most treasured possession?

My knowledge and my resilience. As my grandmother used to say, these are the things you work hard to own and that can never be taken away from you.

What is your present state of mind?

I just spent two weeks at home in quarantine with my two daughters – we contracted Covid after managing to avoid it for two years. It was another tough experience, a first for me to take care of two ill little ones, while being ill myself, with no chance to ask for any help from others. So in this moment I just feel extremely grateful for being able to take a walk outside, to play again, to see people – experiences like this make us so aware of how beautiful life is and how grateful we can be for what we have.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Living life as a musician requires a certain openness to learning new things and excellent stamina for being able to work for huge amounts time and with great focus. I think once you are able to savour and embrace the beauty of these two principles, you will always feel rewarded and will enjoy the flow the combination of the two creates. Beware, though: you may never grow old!

Noemi Gyori’s latest release of flute duos, recorded with her husband Gergely Madaras, trains the spotlight on flute virtuoso compositions by the Doppler brothers, Franz and Karl, and celebrates the bicentenary of Franz Doppler’s birth. Released on 22 April 2022 on the Rubicon Classics label.

Noémi Győri is quickly establishing a name as one of the most outstanding flautists of her generation. She is currently the only emerging artist of the Miyazawa Flutes in Europe and is the only Hungarian musician on the artist roster of the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation, which supports emerging artists of exceptional talent.

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