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January 08, 2024

Music in My Life: Alistair Howlett, Flute

Tell us about your family. 

I grew up in Sydney, Australia. My family included my dad, mum, and younger sister. Now in Indy, my wife Jen (Principal Oboe) and I have two boys that keep us very busy! Playing music with your spouse definitely has pros and cons. Of course, it’s a wonderful experience because we know each other so well and work well together. It’s also nice to have someone to talk to about what’s going on at the orchestra with the same level of understanding. But the constant need to find childcare each and every Friday and Saturday evening has its challenges, to say the least. 

When did you start playing the flute?  

My mum is a piano teacher, so piano was my first instrument. I did about three years of that but then I apparently brought home a recorder from school and my parents were impressed with how quickly I picked it up. They both loved the flute. My dad had many cassette tapes of James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal, and they decided I should start playing the flute. I auditioned for the school band and they recommended the trumpet, but my mum called the school and put a stop to that!

What do you enjoy about being part of the ISO? 

I love working together with all of my wonderful ISO colleagues! It’s such a joy and I always look forward to each week. Also, the music is pretty great!

What music pieces are you looking forward to playing this season? 

Pretty much everything, but especially Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, La Mer, and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not performing?

I love the outdoors, especially with our boys; it helps get their energy out! I also like traveling and finding fun places to eat or drink. 

Any advice for someone considering a career in the orchestra? 

Practice! Listen to recordings. Practice! Join a youth orchestra. Get private lessons and practice!  

What do you want our audience members to know about the ISO?

The ISO is truly a world-class orchestra. We are made up of high-level musicians from all around the world, and our goal is to bring amazing live music to you. While we might seem serious on stage, we’re all just hyper-focused before and during the concert. Afterwards, there’s always the rush of adrenaline and it’s nice to see familiar faces in the audience. Don’t be shy to come up to the stage and say hi! 

Tell us something people don’t know about you.

I listen to a vast array of music, and I’m always interested in listening to the latest styles and genres or discovering new albums. For example, I enjoy our Yuletide Celebration season very much, but it can be like having too much of a good thing (like chocolate). So to cleanse the palate, I’ll listen to heavy metal on the ride home. My wife doesn’t always approve!