Grantee Highlight: Oboist Stephanie Carlson

It’s time for another Grantee Highlight!

One of our values at The Arts Partnership is supporting local art and the artists who make it, and one of the main ways we live that value is by awarding grants to artists in our community. Last fall, we announced our 2017-2018 Individual Arts Partnership (IAP) and Jade Presents Arts Partnership (JPAP) grantees. Every month since November, we’ve been highlighting each grantee so our readers can learn more about them and their artistic process. The featured grantee for May is oboist Stephanie Carlson!

Stephanie Carlson is Instructor of Oboe at Concordia College where she teaches oboe, music history, and Women in Music.  She currently performs with the Concordia Wind Quintet and as second oboist with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony.  Her Jade Presents Arts Partnership grant project is to create a recording of the oboe music of Ruth Gipps, a lesser-known but fascinating British composer.

We asked Stephanie a few questions to get to know her and her process!

TAP: What is your daily creative work schedule?

SC: My schedule varies from day-to-day, but it generally involves teaching at Concordia during the day followed by my personal practice/reed-making time in the late afternoon and early evening while most of my students are in rehearsals.  The later evening hours are then spent in FM Symphony rehearsals (if it’s a Symphony week), teaching studio classes, coaching student chamber music, attending student concerts, grading, catching up on emails, or prepping for the next day.  I enjoy the variety in my schedule, but it can be a challenge to find protected time for my own work. Sometimes, I just try to squeeze in that personal practice time whenever I possibly can in the day.  It helps that my “day job” is as an oboe teacher, so I’m pretty steeped in oboe all day no matter what I’m doing.

TAP: How do you approach the beginning of a project?

SC: The first thing I like to do is to establish a clear direction with some very concrete goals.  Then, I do a lot of research and exploration.  I’m intensely curious by nature, so I “Google” everything I can.  For example, I stumbled across Ruth Gipps when I sent the words oboe, composer, and she through Google.  I also like to talk the project over with people I trust.  I’m very fortunate that I have such great colleagues at Concordia who can offer guidance and insight along the way.  If it’s a recital, I program music that I feel genuinely passionate about.  I especially love programs that have some sort of common thread or interesting story behind the pieces because I believe that helps to engage the audience (and me).  Finally, I deliberately try to think outside the box and attempt to come up with projects that others haven’t done yet.

TAP: What would you be if you couldn’t be an artist?

SC: I sometimes joke that my back-up career is to go become a “real” doctor.  I’m fascinated by the medical field, especially ophthalmology or optometry.  I also find psychology very interesting.  I feel a little too old to consider med school or another doctoral program, but if something were to happen to me where I could no longer physically play oboe, perhaps a career as a Physician Assistant would be a good fit.

TAP: What was the most encouraging feedback you ever got?

SC: I can’t think of a single instance or comment, but I am always heartened when a current or former student tells me that I made some sort of positive impact on them.  My best teachers were the ones who possessed a contagious passion for music, so that’s what I strive to do.  When a student tells me that I helped inspire them, it makes me really happy.

Oboist Stephanie Carlson. Photo courtesy of the artist.

That’s fabulous, Stephanie! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and help our audiences learn more about you. We’re excited to see what comes of your project grant from Jade Presents and The Arts Partnership.

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