Flutist Lara Deutsch performs regularly with the NAC Orchestra and with orchestras across the country. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Grand Prize of the 2014 National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition, and is an alumna of the NAC’s Young Artists Program. Lara shares with us the role the NAC has played in her music education and career.
You grew up in Ottawa. Could you tell us about your early experiences of the NAC?
My exposure to the arts began when I was really young. My three older brothers all played the piano and my mom often brought me to the NAC Orchestra’s performances for children. The NAC has always had great programming for kids!
What was your first experience as a musician at the NAC?
It was with my high school band for MusicFest. One of the highlights was when Christopher Millard, principal bassoon of the NAC Orchestra, gave a workshop on wind playing. I remember being amazed when he asked a student to punch him in the stomach while he was playing! He wanted to show us how important it was to develop a strong core to play wind instruments, which inspired me to think about music in a more physical, athletic way.
How have NAC music training programs helped you in your career?
NAC programs have helped me two-fold in my career. Proceeds from winning several of the prizes at the NAC Orchestra Bursary competitions helped offset the financial costs of my undergraduate degree from McGill, and gave me important feedback every year, which contributed to my artistic growth.
The Young Artists Program gave me invaluable five-on-five coaching with NACO’s principal winds, free of charge. There, I also made connections with other wind players and musicians from across Canada and around the world, many with whom I have since had the privilege of collaborating.
The NAC Orchestra just celebrated its 50th anniversary. You performed during a noon-hour public performance with other alumni of the NAC Orchestra Bursary Competition and YAP. How was that performance special to you?
It was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and express my gratitude for the role that the NAC has played in my artistic development. It was a small, intimate experience—we performed at the foot of the Glass Thorsteinson Staircase—and I enjoyed the no borders experience with the audience, which is different from performing in a larger space like Southam Hall. I love that these concerts allow for direct connection with the public. It was also such an honour to speak with the audience afterwards as part of a panel alongside one of my mentors, Pace Sturdevant, who was the NAC Orchestra’s Principal Trumpet for 23 years and someone who has wholeheartedly supported me throughout my career.
Do you have any words of advice for other aspiring young musicians?
As a musician, it is imperative to hone your mental skills. Learning to be flexible, adaptable and resilient is just as significant as practicing your instrument. I have also learned that it is important to find your own definition of success, and to be open to non-traditional career paths.
What would you like to say to NAC Foundation donors who support the NAC’s music education programs?
I am so grateful to every donor who gives to music education, which is often the first discipline affected by budget cuts. Music programs are a crucial part of education—they teach perseverance, dedication, and community, and they help us to understand ourselves better by encouraging self-expression.
Throughout my career, it has been so motivating to know that I am being supported by people who don’t even know me because they believe in the power of music and its value to society. Thank you!