Let's 'Talk Story' with Claire Starz Butin


In the "Talk Story" series, flutist Andrea Murano interviews Hawaii's flutists to get a closer look at their lives and playing.

Flutist Claire Starz Butin

Flutist Claire Starz Butin

The Oahu flute scene knows Claire Starz Butin well. She has been an important member of the community since she joined the Hawaii Symphony as Associate Principal Flute and began teaching here over ten years ago.

AM: Who were some of your flute teachers and what are some important music/life lessons you learned from them?
CSB: One of my most influential teachers was Dr. Kimberly Walter Clark. I studied with her my last two years of high school. She was fun and inspiring, and she completely opened up my sound and fixed a lot of bad habits I had developed.  Another was William Bennett. I first played for "Wibb" at his summer course. He was harder on me than any teacher ever had been before! So, of course, I wanted to go study with him. Indiana University had an exchange program with the Royal Academy of music in London, so I got to go study with both Wibb and Sebastian Bell for one year. When I first got there, he made me play through all of the Moyse little melodic studies before he would "knight me" and let me play all the technically difficult things I wanted to play. I think we spent an entire month on number one, which was a blow to my ego but did give me all the tools I needed to play the more difficult things well. He inspired me to be more daring in terms of interpretation and dynamic contrast, and he guided my career. When I told him I was planning on a Master's degree, he said after a pause, "just go play somewhere!" So, when I won the Honolulu Symphony audition when I was halfway through my Master's at Rice University, I jumped at the chance and never looked back.

AM: What would be your advice for flutists looking to pursue an orchestral career?
CSB: I would advise students who are interested in an orchestral career to play for many different people and to perform often. Knowing the piece of music well and playing along to the orchestra inside of your head is the best for orchestral excerpts.

AM: What is a memorable musical moment/performance from your career and why?
CSB: One of my most memorable musical moments was playing pictures at an exhibition with the Texas All-State orchestra back when I was a junior in high school. I had this moment of "oh THIS is what it is like to play in an orchestra!!" There was just no comparison to my school orchestra and it was eye-opening.

AM: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
CSB: If I could have dinner with one person living or dead, it would be Julia Child. She seemed like a lot of fun and I know the good would be awesome.

Mahalo to Claire for sharing with us! Stay tuned for more from our "Talk Story" Series!