What areas of research creativity do you specialize in?
What is the best thing about being principal flutist, a chamber musician, and a recitalist?
There are so many ‘best parts’ that it is hard to narrow this down. I absolutely love performing in orchestra, am over-the-moon about being able to play flute and piano repertoire with my husband (Peter Allen, piano professor at the Fountain School), love chamber music. I love the variety, learning new pieces, revisiting learnt ones but with a different perspective. But I suppose what I could narrow it down to if I had to is how playing music makes me feel deep inside. It makes my heart grow – it’s this inexplainable feeling that is the very reason why I started trying to master a musical instrument in the first place, that swelling of the heart.
Patricia Creighton with composer Pēteris Vasks at Scotia Festival of Music (2018), rehearsing his Landscape with Birds. Photo credit: Kathy MacCulloch.
What have you been working on during the pandemic, which professionally has been such a difficult time for performing musicians?
My time since mid-March has been an interesting one creatively.
I took part in a recording of the Overture to W. A. Mozart’s The Magic Flute for the LOVE PROJECT 2020, an international orchestra comprised of over 1000 musicians. This was challenging and very rewarding and it was so nice to be a part of something happening globally. In this YouTube video, I’m on the mid-far right occasionally, and am wearing a white crocheted hat.
Screenshot from LOVE PROJECT 2020 Magic Flute overture video.
I have been video-recording some solo flute works for my YouTube channel, including a piece called Arietta di Cordova, by Leonardo Schiavo, one of a few composers who have contacted me in the last six months. It is always a joy to work with a living composer and bring into existence a work that has not been recorded or performed before.
I also pursued other creative projects that I normally wouldn’t have any time to partake in.
I sewed some excellent masks out of a torn bed sheet and batting; I mailed many of them to family members. They are comfortable and pass the lighter test, ie. if one wears one and lights a lighter right in front of the face, the flame can’t be blown out because the mask offers enough protection. I painted our grape vine arbor curtains with a pastoral scene including a few sunflowers, and was surprised when bees would land on the painted flowers looking for nectar – a sign that they thought them to be real! And then there is crocheting and needlepoint. I have a great pattern I use for hooking washcloths, and also made my own pattern for fingerless gloves and have been using up spare yarn making sets of those.
Photo credits: Patricia Creighton
I also have spent some time indulging myself in photography, a great love of mine. I love this picture I took at Crystal Crescent Beach which truly captures the power of the ocean in this wave.
Photo credit: Patricia Creighton
What do you like best about living in the city of Halifax?
That in 10 minutes, I can be at my most divine swimming location where there isn’t a building in sight, and swim to my heart’s content in fresh water. There is absolutely nothing like the smell of the air an inch above a healthy fresh-water lake. If one could bottle that, one could make a fortune. Nature is accessible here and I personally find it a great inspiration when I play flute. I often draw on my inner memories of really beautiful places in nature to conjure authentic interpretations of the music I play. Halifax is an amazing place to experience a large variety of nature and weather.
Photo credit: Patricia Creighton
What advice can you offer any students interested in the performing arts?
Become diversified. Have back-up skills in other professions so that you can make money while you are pursuing your dream. I worked in factories (an electronics factory and in a plastics factory), at an architect’s as a secretary, in various bars as a cocktail waitress, a lifeguard, a waterski instructor at a camp, in a university Registrar’s Office, at an accounting firm, as a furniture refinisher (not necessarily in that order) etc., and then I became Principal Flautist of Symphony Nova Scotia.
Where can we see or hear some of your work?
On my YouTube channel, which can be found on my website: www.patriciacreighton.com
Layout and editing by Jennifer Bain.