To Stillman, education is important and helped her forge a unique path as an artist and musician. The daughter of two professors, she grew up in an environment where learning was valued.
An early exposure to music led her to learn to play the recorder at the age of 5 and the flute at the age of 6. She described loving the sound of the flute and wanting that instrument to become her musical voice.
Her musical journey would see her acceptance as the youngest wind player ever admitted to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, where she would go on to become the youngest wind player to win the Young Concert Artists award.
“Acceptance to Curtis at such a young age was a surprise and took my life in a new direction,” Stillman said.
Stillman has appeared as a soloist and with a range of orchestras, including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, and Hilton Head Orchestra.
She has also performed as a recitalist and chamber musician at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Brooklyn’s Roulette, Verbier Festival in Switzerland, Bard College, La Jolla Chamber Music Festival, and Kol HaMusica in Israel.
Stillman, a Yamaha Performing Artist, has earned a master of arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also pursuing a Ph.D. in history, a degree that influences her approach to embodying the music and essence of composers.
She advises young musicians to learn about everything — including literature, art, and history — that touches what they’re doing, to create a deeper connection to classical and orchestral music.
The New York Times has called Stillman “a consummate and charismatic performer,” and Philadelphia Magazine has dubbed her “the coolest flute player.”
What does it mean to be “the coolest flute player”? For Stillman, it means having a blast as a performer.
“Cool means hip and fun,” she said. “When performers have fun, it’s infectious.”
“Cool” is also about finding your own path as a musician and as an artist. “Classical music can be a difficult field,” Stillman said. “It requires utter passion and dedication to make a successful career.”
This is a lesson she hopes to impart to the young musicians she will be working with during master classes at Virginia Tech and Blacksburg Middle School. A master class on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Squires Recital Salon will be free and open to the public.
Tickets for Stillman’s performance are $15 for general admission, $12 for seniors, and $7 for students. Tickets can be purchased online, at the Squires Ticket Office, or by calling 540-231-5615 during ticket hours.
The Squires Student Center is located at 290 College Ave. Parking is available in the Squires lot located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street and the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Limited street parking is also available.
If you are an individual with a disability and desire accommodation, please contact Susan Sanders at 540-231-5200 or email email@example.com during regular business hours at least eight business days prior to the event.
Written by Willie Caldwell, a graduate student studying arts leadership and higher education at Virginia Tech