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Paula Robison

Sometimes known as "the first lady of the flute," Paula Robison has been an energetic and visible ambassador for her instrument as well as a gifted performer. She was born in Nashville but moved to California when she was young. Her first instrument was the piano, but she took up the flute at age 11 and eight years later entered the Juilliard School. While still at Juilliard she performed with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein and made her New York recital debut. She graduated in 1963 and went on to study with the legendary Marcel Moyse at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont. After becoming the first American to win the top prize at Switzerland's Geneva International Competition in 1966, she performed in recital and with major orchestras in the U.S. and internationally. Her repertoire is broad, and her collaborators have ranged from Baroque-oriented groups like I Solisti Veneti to New York's Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra to the New World Symphony, with whom she has often performed Berio's Sequenza I. She has also commissioned and premiered works by Leon Kirchner, Robert Beaser, Toru Takemitsu, and Oliver Knussen. One of those rare performers with a gift for organizational leadership, Robison became a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1969 and held the title of artist-member there for 20 years. She and her husband, violist Scott Nickrenz, became co-artistic directors of chamber music at the Spoleto Festival of Two World in Spoleto, Italy, and Charleston, SC, in 1977 and later at the festival's Melbourne, Australia, branch. Achieving a degree of visibility uncommon among classical musicians, Robison has been profiled on CBS television's Sunday Morning and PBS' Live from Lincoln Center. She has been the subject of feature articles in such varied publications as The New York Times, Esquire, People, Women Who Rock, Musical America (where she was named "Musician of the Month"), and Ovation. Active as a teacher at the New England Conservatory and other institutions in recent years, Robison has also undertaken several innovative recording projects in middle age. She has cultivated a strong interest in Brazilian music of all kinds, touring with Brazilian classical musicians, forming an ensemble called Brasileirinho that was devoted to the popular chôro dance genre, and, in the 2003-2004 season, performing her own transcriptions of Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos for flute, strings, guitar, harpsichord organ, and Brazilian percussion. She is also the author of several books.
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