Artist Spotlight: Austin Symphony's Rachel Lopez —
November 18, 2019

Artist Spotlight: Austin Symphony’s Rachel Lopez

By Rachel Santorelli

This March 22-23, the Austin Symphony Orchestra will present “Creative Expressions: Celebrating Women Composers” on the stage of Dell Hall at the Long Center. Celebrating the treasures composed by women through the ages, the concert begins with “Overture in C Major” by Fanny Mendelssohn and continues with expressive works by “Lili” Boulanger, Clara Schumann, Vítězslava Kaprálová and award-winning American composer Jennifer Higdon. The Symphony will be joined by the famed group Time for Three and prominent pianist Michelle Schumann.

A proud member of the Austin Symphony since 2006, Rachel Lopez will be joining the special all-women concert on the flute. Besides her classical music virtues, Rachel is a true Austinite with a passion for yoga and rock music. Here’s what she had to share about the upcoming concert and herself.

What’s your background with the Austin Symphony Orchestra?
“I won the 2nd flute position in 2006. I’ve been fortunate to have played principal on many occasions and also enjoy playing the piccolo.”

What is your music life outside of the Symphony?
I teach some private students during the day. I have been a regular yoga practitioner for about a decade, which helps with my posture and alignment, as well as other holistic benefits for hectic musician lifestyles.

What does this all-women composer concert means to you?
Female composers are generally underrepresented on orchestra programs, so it’s nice to explore some of their contributions. There have been a growing number of female composers in flute music as well, including many works by Jennifer Higdon.

Any one piece in this program that you are particularly excited about or exited to play?
We just played the Boulanger for youth concerts recently, which I really enjoyed because it reminds me of other French composers of the time, like Ravel & Debussy. I’m looking forward to the Higdon because it sounds like it will be fun, since it explores different musical genres like rock & jazz.

Explain a little bit about being a woman in today’s music scene.
It’s interesting to note that even as recently as the 80s and 90s, there were mostly men in orchestras. It’s nice to see that women are evenly represented in today’s orchestras, as well as having more presence in other genres like rock music. I even picked up a bass guitar in college and played in some rock bands because it looked like so much fun!

Was music part of your life growing up?
I was always playing music and singing on my own, but I didn’t have any relatives that were professionals. I had a cousin who was in school band (she played a brass instrument), and that influenced me to want to join band. Otherwise, I was mostly self-taught and enjoyed exploring multiple instruments.

Please share anything that is unique/special to you that readers may find interesting.
I love playing classical music, but people are often intrigued that I’m a huge rock music fanatic! I think it’s because the fan bases of rock and classical music are so drastically different. I’m just as comfortable playing a symphony in the Long Center as I am going to a local rock concert around 6th street (sometimes in the same night). I’ve also contributed vocals to a noise rock band called Echodrone on the albums Five (2015) and Past, Preset & Future (2018).

More information at AustinSymphony.org

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