Laila’s Bio

It appears that the flute is my destiny. If I think back I can see that the ‘tractor beam’ of the flute first grabbed hold of me at age 7 after hearing a recording of Prokoviev’s “Peter and the Wolf” at one of my dreaded visits to the chiropractors. With just one hearing, I became annoyingly insistent on learning to play the flute. My mother enrolled me in a string of musical aptitude tests at the local conservatorium to gauge my future potential. Luckily I passed with flying crotchets… I mean colours. By the end of my 7th year I was given my first flute. I was also hoping for Father Christmas to bring me some front teeth. However my lack of central incisors proved to be a blessing in disguise and after only a few frustrating seconds I was able to produce a sound.

During primary school, music rehearsals replaced religion (literally, orchestra rehearsals conveniently coincided with scripture) which may have contributed to the reverence I feel towards the power of music.

By the age of 16 with an insatiable hunger to discover as much as possible about my interests, I had become very curious about the technical aspects of flute construction and approached the school careers advisor about possible work experience options to learn more about flute making. He suggested a course in blacksmithing. I decided that maybe it was time to change schools.

In 1997 I began studying with Alison Mitchell (now principal flautist of the Scottisch ChamberOrchestra) and enrolled in the Sydney Conservatorium High School a few months later. With 30 students in each year it was a great environment where music nerds were in abundance and soon I felt right at home and spent the next 6 years there first to finish off high school and following on with a Bachelor of Music degree.

During this study period I was exposed to many new ideas and experiences. I was a member of the SBS radio and television orchestra and toured to Italy. The Italy tour was a tough slog with 15 performances in 17 days but I was hooked on performing as my career. Travelling is one of the great joys of being a musician and since that first trip musical engagements have taken me on tours to Turkey, Malaysia and twice to Russia.

Although life as a musician is a struggle at times, I was awarded a number of scholarships and prizes throughout my study. This gave me the validation to persevere. Having a steady stream of goals that result in meeting and working intensely with other fabulous musicians has constantly propelled me forward. Some of these meetings include attending National music camp, performing as a member of the Sydney Sinfonia and performing at the Townsville International Chamber music festival.

After graduating from the conservatorium I did a year of freelancing and ran a private instrumental studio but I felt something was missing. I was convinced I needed a more disciplined approach to life and took up a position as flautist in the Royal Australian Air Force Band. Upon my return from the compulsory 10 week stint at basic training which involved crawling through mud, endless marching routines and learning to master the correct rifle trills (whoops drills). I happily returned from recruit training with better posture and a more tenacious outlook on life.

A few months after “rookies” my playing schedule had resumed and I recorded a programme for the ABC Young Australia series. Since then I have appeared on numerous broadcasts as a chamber musician and soloist on ABC, 2MBS-FM, 3MBS-FM and Eastside radio.

A life changing experiences occurred when I saw flautist Felix Renggli perform in Sydney in 2004. I had taken a group of my students to the concert to give them a little inspiration before their exams and left convinced that I must follow him to Switzerland for lessons. Well, that’s exactly what I did. I travelled to Switzerland to attend the Ticino Musica summer course. After the course in an attempt to do something non-flute related I thought it might be a good idea to cycle across the country solo. I crashed my bicycle on the first day, narrowly escaped major knee surgery and was forced to spend the remainder of my trip in a full-length leg brace. Clearly the universe was trying to tell me something.

With every intention of going back to Basel to keep studying with professor Renngli I enrolled in a Master of Music degree at the University of Melbourne to get back into study mode and until the audition period. Again the planets aligned to conspire against me because these two events caused meet to meet Leigh and Julia and I haven’t looked back since.