Musician Behind the Mask: Alexis Evers, flute/piccolo
Portland-based flutist Alexis Evers has been the third flutist and piccoloist of the Rogue Valley Symphony since 2016. She is also the principal flutist of the Eugene Concert Orchestra and second flutist/piccoloist of the Oregon Mozart Players. She has performed with Orchestra NEXT (Eugene Ballet Company), Festival Napa Valley’s Blackburn Music Academy, and the Eugene Symphony Orchestra. An avid performer of new music, she was a 2018 Guest Artist for the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, and was a featured performer at the 2018 SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) national conference. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois, and a Master of Music degree from the University of Oregon.
How has the Covid-19 health crisis affected you as a musician?
I don’t think there is much about my musical life that hasn’t changed under these circumstances, but there are certainly aspects of those changes I’ve found more difficult than others. The first is how much I truly miss performing. I’ve wanted to be a professional musician since I was 13, and so much of my life since that point has been structured around upcoming rehearsals and performances, whether that was with youth orchestra in high school, college ensembles and recitals in undergrad and graduate school, and now as a professional. I really miss being able to share music with an audience in a shared space – the energy of an audience is such a crucial part of the experience of live music. I’ve been working on a solo flute new music project, and I’m really happy to be playing music by some of my composer friends and colleagues, but sharing something on the Internet as a project’s culmination instead of a live performance feels very different, to say the least. I also truly miss the camaraderie on stage. There’s really nothing like being a small part of a huge piece of music going on around you when everyone is putting all of their focus, energy, heart, and soul into it; beyond this, I’m fortunate to have so many colleagues in the orchestra who I also call my friends, and I’ve missed them tremendously.
Are there any aspects of your professional life that are unchanged?
Scales, so many scales! I’ve been trying to really focus on a lot of fundamental aspects of my playing so that I’m in good shape for when I get to play with other people again, and have been revisiting some old favorite exercise books.
What do you think is the role of musicians now?
That’s a big question! I think one of the best things about music is how much it helps us communicate and nourishes something deep within each of us, whether we’re the ones making the music or listening to it. I’ve been amazed at the creativity going on in using the technology we have available to us now to keep bringing new and “live” music experiences to people, even if we’re all experiencing that separately. I also think we’re at a really important moment to talk about better inclusion of underrepresented voices, especially in classical music, as we start looking ahead to what the performing arts may look like in the future.
Have you re-discovered an old hobby/passion while in quarantine?
I’ve been running a lot, which isn’t exactly a re-discovered hobby (I’ve run several full and half-marathon races in the last few years), but it’s helped keep me sane and given me a good reason to get outside during this time (socially-distanced, of course!). I’m not sure doing interpretive dances to the on-hold music of the Oregon Employment Department really counts as a hobby… I’ve also really enjoyed having more time than usual to be in touch with my friends and loved ones, even if we’re spending that time together digitally instead of in-person.
Have you read or watched anything interesting that you’d want to share?
I’m a voracious reader in normal circumstances, so with a lot of extra time on my hands, I’ve been reading even more than usual! Right now, I’m reading Frederik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. I’ve also watched a fair amount of Netflix, and just finished watching Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time – somehow I missed watching it when I was growing up, but I absolutely loved it!
What’s something you’re grateful for today?
I am profoundly grateful, today and always, for my partner, Robert. This situation has, of course, had many stressful moments, but I am beyond fortunate to share my life with someone who is unfailingly kind, patient, and amazingly good at making me laugh – plus he’s very good at baking bread!
I’m also very grateful to have recently started a new day job, and thankful that my family members (my dad and brother are essential workers) have been able to stay healthy.
Also coffee. Always coffee.
What’s something you’re looking forward to?
There are so many things I’m looking forward to but the top of the list is definitely being able to see my friends again in-person and share food – I’ve really missed having friends over for dinner and cooking together. Traveling again is also near the top of the list, as is the simple pleasure of hanging out in a coffee shop.
Next up: Theresa McCoy, Principal Timpani