Doctoral Student Documents the Life and Career of Metropolitan Opera Flutist Trudy Kane

By Greg Waxberg

The life story of a notable instrumentalist in the opera world has been documented by a rising musician who learned from her. Trudy Kane served as Principal Flutist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from 1976 to 2008, then taught at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, where she is Associate Professor Emeritus.

One of her students was Emily Dierickx, who recently received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Instrumental Performance. To honor her mentor, Dierickx chose to write her doctoral essay in the form of an oral history of Kane’s career.

“She’s had an amazing career as a performer and a great reputation as a pedagogue. I started researching her, and not much was coming up. There have been some notable interviews, but not much in-depth. I wanted to document her stories,” Dierickx, a member of The National Flute Association’s Archives and Oral History Committeetold OperaWire.

A benefit of Dierickx’s work is that it puts a rare spotlight on a musician from an opera orchestra.

“We usually think about top orchestras like Boston and Berlin. Trudy Kane is one of the best flutists I’ve ever heard and learned from, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is one of the best—they deserve to be written about.”

More than anything, Dierickx emphasizes Kane’s nurturing side.

“I started my college career as a naïve music lover who wanted to be a performer and professor, to have the best of both worlds, but had no clue what it meant to ‘make it’ in the flute world. I had this amazing growth spurt during my time with Trudy.”

She attributes this growth to Kane’s faith in her students and her abilities to unlock potential, remove mental barriers, and develop individual artistry.

“She never gives the impression that life in the music field is easy, but she always encourages us by letting us know that it is possible. She regularly shares that the keys to being successful in the music world are preparation, perseverance, and kindness.”

Dierickx also says that Kane “showed me everything that a professor could be. I love performing, but teaching has always been a passion. Being her student made me want to teach even more because she is so patient, but she pushes us out of our comfort zone in the kindest way.”

When asked about aspects of Kane’s career as a female instrumentalist that have surprised and inspired her, Dierickx pauses. “I was surprised by her stories of being a woman principal and having certain colleagues question why she was there. I thought that was something that had happened earlier in history than the 1970s, and had gone away, but [it was still happening].” For inspiration: never giving up, and sharing accomplishments with her students, such as students premiering her new arrangements for flute choir and performing at conferences she attended.

“My biggest takeaway from knowing Trudy and studying her career is that she has an amazing ability to win people over,” Dierickx says. “She has the most endearing personality.”

Dierickx is planning a second oral history project on Trudy Kane.