Sonatas on the Baroque Flute

Courtney Westcott was a Centrum Creative Resident in both 2006 and 2007. Her main focus is the baroque flute, the precursor to the silver flute. The baroque flute was the flute of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe: a continent caught between the old monarchies and the new, revolutionary ideas of science Courtney_westcott_photo_3and liberty. Unlike the silver flute, the baroque flute is made of wood, and has a “gorgeous, sensual, vocal sound,” says Westcott, who fell in love with the instrument while a student at Oberlin in the early nineteen-seventies. “It has a lot of colors and dimensions,” she says. “The way it plays when you play the Bach sonata, for example, has a greater subtlety of articulation than does the silver flute.” 

The study of early music and musical instruments has now become mainstream, but as recently as 1975, places to study baroque instruments were scarce. Courtney Westcott went to The Hague, which was at that time a central location for studying early music. She stayed for five years, teaching in a music school to support herself—in that way becoming fluent in Dutch. She later became the first woman to receive a Soloist Diploma on the baroque flute from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.

Courtney_westcott_cd_2  Westcott currently makes her home in Seattle, and plays the flute both as a soloist and in orchestras. She is a founding member of Zephyrus, a group devoted to late eighteenth-century repertoire. Together with flutemaker Peter Noy, she collaborates on the research and development of flutes based on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century originals.