We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Strickland and Alex Mack and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura and Alex, why did you pursue a creative career?
We decided to pursue a career in music as a quest to make people whole again The Greeks were among the first to try to explain how music works and believed music was the study of relationships between invisible and internal objects. Music continues to allow us to navigate those big, invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange them so that, even when we can’t speak the words, we can still express what we feel. We recognize that people may walk into our concerts with minds that are confused, hearts that are heavy, and souls that are weary. It is our quest to use our artistry to help them leave feeling whole again. Concerts where our duo is able to speak directly with our audience are most illuminating to us. It’s then that we learn how our music has helped listeners connect with memories, come into harmony with themselves, and leave feeling revitalized. During these conversations, we hear powerful stories individuals have often rediscovered after many years and after listening, they share in great detail memories that have returned to them so vividly, it was as though they were reliving it. For us, using music as a vehicle to connect people to powerful memories is our work. This is why we do what we do, and this is why music matters so deeply.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We are most proud of the growth that we’ve made since we began playing together as a duo. We started with no experience playing in a flute and guitar duo and no music. We explored different types of music and started with what seemed to work at the time. We learned to arrange our own music for the ensemble in order to explore different genres that we were drawn to and thought would work for our ensemble. As we grew as an ensemble, we were able to expand our repertoire and the complexity of our arrangements. It took less and less time to prepare new music. We went from playing mainly background music to being booked as featured artists on concert series. Was it easy? Well, if you consider working hard on something meaningful “easy”, then yes! But it has been a lot of hard work. We have been very fortunate in our musical journey together. We come from different stylistic backgrounds, and certainly, our instruments and how they are played couldn’t be any less alike. Perhaps, that could lead to conflict or frustration, but for us, we’ve found that it brings out the best in both of us. Both of us are striving to turn our personal weaknesses or areas of unfamiliarity into strengths and the more we have worked together, the easier that has become. So much of what we do is unspoken, but by now, we have developed a shared body language in our performance which is something that all musicians strive for. We aren’t perfect and some days are better than others, but the challenges that face us in each performance are what keeps us on our toes and excited for the next opportunity to grow and at the same time delight our audiences. One thing that sets us apart from other classically trained duos and small ensembles is that we have created shows where we explain to audiences the background of the music we are about to play to give them a context. We share details of the composer, what the music was written for, fun facts and more that help listeners develop a deeper understanding of what they’re listening to. This helps them experience the music with new depth and go home with new insights into the music they’ve known for years or just been introduced to. With this format, audience members get to see more of our personalities as well as get breaks between songs, so the concerts don’t feel too long. We have had great success playing a variety of these types of shows including jazz, Broadway Musical/movie music, Celtic music, love songs, and classical music. Additionally, since flute and guitar is a rather uncommon ensemble, there is a lack of music written or arranged for this combination. But, we have been drawn to pursuing this combination because it creates a blend that offers a fullness and dynamism that many more traditional string or wind ensembles cannot replicate. As a less common ensemble, we have worked hard over the last few years to personally arrange almost every piece of music and song we play. By now, we have hundreds of songs and classical works in our repertoire and can comfortably play up to four hours of unrepeated music. Since we do all of our own arrangements, we have created a totally unique repertoire built on our particular strengths as musicians. Our music truly reflects our individual personalities and musicianship. We take great pride in the fact that we have developed such a large, unique repertoire that displays our versatility, experience and our shared musical tastes with our audiences. Another thing that sets us apart from most other instrumental duos is that we have begun writing our own compositions to share with our audiences our complete musical ideas, from the initial conception through performance.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We would like to give a shout out to our fans! They are who inspire us. We have recently recreated a new program featuring our original compositions that is deeply personal to us. Each piece is dedicated to one of our most memorable audience members. In the DNA of each piece are memories and meaning audience members shared with us as well as the growth we have experienced through the opportunity to act as therapists for the soul.
Rachael Koscica, Heather Kadar, Stehanie Wahlig