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ON THE 11th HOUR: when the war went quiet
Her big brown eyes sparkle, and her dimples jump off her face as she talks about her life.
And why shouldn’t it?
Rozalind MacPhail is doing what she loves — playing and teaching the flute — in an adopted home, on an island just a tad larger than the one she grew up on.
“I was raised on Toronto Island (home of Billy Bishop Airfield). I attended middle school there and, luckily for me, I met a flute teacher who changed my life,’’ MacPhail said this week as she prepares for an Atlantic Canadian tour where she will teach students the finer intricacies of the flute and play a number of showcases leading into the East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown on May 5.
“Many times in my life I was in the right place at the right time, so to say I lucked out would be an understatement,’’ she added.
Her middle school days were incredible where she said the staff there was nurturing, her flute teacher was an incredible influence on her life.
She moved from there to the city side for high school, the Etobicoke School of the Arts. There were stars in the making there with members of Canadian bands Broken Social Scene and Metric walking the halls.
So she continued to study, practice and head out on the road to perfect her craft.
"I didn’t see myself fitting into a classical box where I would be a soloist in front of an orchestra." — Rozalind MacPhail
But then she turned 30 and experienced a midlife crisis of sorts.
“I thought to myself, what was next? I didn’t see myself fitting into a classical box where I would be a soloist in front of an orchestra,’’ MacPhail said.
“I wanted to write my own songs. So after talking with a violinist (Owen Pallett) at the Osheaga festival in Montreal who was looping, I said I can do that too and that sent me down the road I am on today.’’
So for the next six years, she worked almost entirely out of her car, travelling the West Coast based out of Vancouver initially, and she discovered she is good at bringing people together to collaborate on projects where she could curate and produce musical projects.
“I was able to get a group of filmmakers to collaborate with me on a silent film and live music project called, ‘Painted House,' she said. “I created the music inspired by their visuals and people loved it,” she added noting 'Painted Houses' was inspired by the RPM Challenge and winter in St. John's.
This started a path toward several other audio-visual projects, including a DVD where she invited filmmakers and musical friends to contribute to a surround-sound DVD project titled “Head First.”
MacPhail said there were several films about Canada that came out of this project that she loves performing and, in fact, this led to her first ECMA nomination. Next came an audio-visual project inspired by North Carolina, "From The River to the Ocean." MacPhail received an ECMA award for “From the River to the Ocean" in 2017.
“Audiences loved seeing the films this project provided. 'From The River To The Ocean' has a host of elements — poverty, racism, love and heartbreak — human elements that included longing and nostalgia,’’ she said.
MacPhail still seeks opportunities to create music for film, particularly through live performance synchronized to image.
In addition, she looks forward to performing her original music worldwide and connecting with audiences of all ages. As a music clinician, she has presented workshops in Canada, the United States and Europe in flute performance, live scoring for film, looping through Ableton Live and music career development.
MacPhail is also the first Canadian flutist to be sponsored by Gemeinhardt Musical Instruments, one of the music industry’s largest manufacturers.
In addition, she is adapting the audio-visual project, 'Homeless', a collaboration with New Brunswick artists from Industrial Parks to arrange it for live circus, looped organic electronic music and silent film. Ignite Circus — based in St. John's — and MacPhail are working on it now to showcase in the fall.
MacPhail will also be part of several future events that will include time at the National Flute Convention in Salt Lake City. She will perform and teach in Denmark and Sweden this fall and is excited about being part of the Festival of Small Halls in Prince Edward Island in June.
She also has several dates scheduled for this province, including a Winter Jazz Festival event that had to be postponed due to inclement weather and has been rescheduled for the Stephenville Arts and Culture Centre, where the show will be resurrected on May 7. In addition, she has another performance at the Rotary Arts Centre in Corner Brook on May 31.
In addition to being nominated for the ECMA’s electronic recording of the year, MacPhail was nominated for four MusicNL Awards from 2018, including educator of the year, a nomination she is proud of.
“I am giving back the great lessons that I’ve gotten throughout my career,’’ she said.
“My goal is to inspire others.’’
MacPhail will perform “Flute Loops & Film” in theatres, schools and festivals throughout Atlantic Canada.
Her most recent album, “Love and Let Be” is nominated for ECMA’s Electronic Recording of the Year, the fourth year in a row MacPhail has been nominated for this category.
Composed for alto flute and omnichord, this organic electronic offering was inspired by Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s famous poem, “The Invitation” and MacPhail’s passion for restorative “Yin Yoga.”
In this recording, “Yin Yoga,” electro-acoustic music and poetry dance together to create inner peace and make room for more space in the heart.
She is one of the world’s most buzzed-about flutists. An innovative leader in flute looping and live film scoring, this award-winning and classically trained flutist explores new ways to combine image, inspiration and sound in works that speak honestly of place, person and the human experience.
MacPhail combines live loops with recorded, manipulated sounds as she performs her emotive songs to contemporary silent film through Ableton Live.
She leaves for Nova Scotia on Friday ahead of her first stop at The Townhouse in Antigonish. From there, she will go to North Carolina for a visit with her husband of just over two years in Wilmington, and then head back to P.E.I. for the ECMAs, where she will be on the electronic stage at Fishbones Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill on Victoria Row.