We had the good fortune of connecting with Leslie Etzel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Leslie, what inspires you?

I am inspired by the feeling of satisfaction I get by making people happy through music. As a flute player since age 10, I’ve always loved bringing joy to audiences. When I purchased and started playing my 10-foot long contrabass flute 18 years ago, there were not many opportunities to play such a low, soft sounding instrument in any group except flute choirs. So I joined as many of those as I could. While the concerts were fun and audiences loved the contrabass, it was just not as satisfying as I envisioned. That’s when I invited 6 friends to form the Central Arizona Flute Ensemble (CAFE Flutes). Since 2014, we’ve performed over 145 concerts in the Phoenix area. I feel inspired when after a concert, people want to take selfies with my contrabass and rave about the joy and memories that the concert music brought.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

The decision for CAFE to become a 501c3 charitable organization in 2021was difficult because it was venturing into unknown territory, but it was necessary to take the group to the next level. It allows us to apply for grants, and to accept tax deductible donations in order to fulfill our mission: to enrich, enlighten, and inspire central Arizona residents by presenting interactive concerts and educational programs that showcase the diverse instruments in the flute family. Our community outreach focuses on bringing CAFE music to seniors. The challenge of navigating a the nonprofit world as a creative person was daunting, so I asked for help. CAFE’s board of directors is proceeding diligently and so far, our new website with video and music samples has inspired lots of views. www.cafeflutes.com  Sign up for our quarterly newsletter! The idea of bringing the joy of flute choir music to others, particularly during the time of social distancing, inspires me. There’s nothing like the “high” I feel after really connecting with an audience.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). Top of the list, Do not miss.

Lobster Rolls – where ever you can get one! Some excellent versions are on food trucks.

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?

I want to give a shoutout to the amazing music community in metro Phoenix for their dedication to nurturing excellence in our craft. Even during the tough times during Covid, we worked together to find new ways to deliver quality performances.

Website: http://www.cafeflutes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CAFE-Flutes-325023157676476

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmZjZXR3Fz4&t=5s

Image Credits
Lane Davidson

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.