Home Emotional music Burlington flutist Patricia Julien on how the pandemic changed her – and how she works

Burlington flutist Patricia Julien on how the pandemic changed her – and how she works


Doyle deanBurlington flutist Patricia Julien on how the pandemic changed her – and how she works

We’ve been featuring the music of regional artists during our news programs. You might hear them during Morning Edition, All Things Considered and on Northern Light. The Underscore Project began when venues closed due to the pandemic, it was a way to help bring the music of the region to our listeners. One musician you’ve been hearing is Patricia Julien, she’s a flutist from Burlington. She spoke with me back in April about how the pandemic may have changed her and the way she works.

Inner space, Julien at the mic. Photo: Dave Yandell.

Patricia Julien: I hope that I will come away from all this able to be a little bit more expressive in my day to day life. You know I live to be expressive as a musician and that feels like home to me. That’s a place for me to kind of be emotional. But I’m hoping now that I’ll actually be able to carry that into my real life a little bit more.

Doyle Dean: Take me back to a year ago when when everything (the pandemic) happened.

PJ: Safe. I wasn’t gigging that frequently. But in town, in Burlington, a bit. And I have a quartet, The Patricia Julian Project. We were supposed to record our next album last summer. All of our rehearsals had to stop. So we couldn’t even really continue making progress toward eventually getting in the studio to make our next record. It’s been so strange, because I feel like I’ve been practicing fairly regularly. It’s been a little uneven. I just feel like a different person as a musician. I feel like, you know, I don’t feel like a jazz musician at the moment, which is so sad to me, because I haven’t actually improvised with someone else live, in over a year.

The Patricia Julien Project Live.  Photo: Mike Lawler.

The Patricia Julien Project Live. Photo: Mike Lawler.

DD: So you sent a piece my way that’s a recent collaboration.

PJ: It’s called And Gretel Hansel and my collaborator is Chris Caswell. She is an area actor, writer and artist. It was her concept and it’s kind of brilliant. She took the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, and created visual images from some aspects of the of the story. And she rearranged them sort of, I think it was mostly random. That’s why the title is And Gretel Hansel. She created this beautiful animation which I love. It’s so, I don’t know, I found it so emotional to watch her work. And so we both kind of kept the story in mind and did our creative work separately, and then brought it together with some revisions. And that was really fun, so much fun to work on.

DD: Can you look back at what you performed and what you wrote and think about a takeaway?

PJ: Yeah, that’s a good question. You know I think one thing is that I’m appreciating that there are so many different ways to connect with other people. I miss the physical connections and I miss the face to face connections. But I also feel in some ways, because I’ve been craving some aspects of interaction, it’s kind of helped me reach out in different ways. And that’s been nice to see that that’s possible.

PJ: Can I give a shout out to Bald Mountain Theater? Because they were the ones who put together an evening of short fairy tales. And again, it’s people who are coming up with inventive ways to have projects to do together, even though they’re unusual in many ways. It’s been amazing to me that people have had ideas and have really sort of become super creative in some ways about the medium. And also how to find ways to work with other people and collaborate in these unusual circumstances. It’s been kind of awesome.

PJ: I have a friend who’s a neighbor, she’s a writer, and she’s an actor. She’s just a couple doors away from me. And she created outdoor offices for us. So she brought out some sidewalk chalk, and she drew on the sidewalk, so we would be six feet apart. And so we sometimes still meet in our outdoor office, even though we don’t currently have a project together. It’s so fun. But what’s my point? Oh, yeah, I warned her that I imagine that from now on I’m going to overstay my welcome at every friend’s house.

DD: Why was flute right for you? Going way back.

PJ: Yeah, you know I love that question because I have a really terrible answer. Which is that I didn’t know much about music, there wasn’t a lot of music in my household. And when I was growing up, my parents, for example, aren’t musicians. So I chose flute because the prettiest girl in elementary school was playing flute. You know, so, it’s a terrible reason to choose that instrument. But the truth is, I love flute. I’ve tried other instruments and I’ve played some other instruments a little bit, but nothing really speaks to me the way flute does. So I got lucky. You know, I chose it for a really vain reason but I got lucky because I think it’s really the instrument for me.

DD: Do you think she’s still playing?

PJ: Good question. I don’t know. I hope so.

DD: Thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it. Patricia.

PJ: Thanks Doyle, it’s just so nice to chat with you.

Giant Steps, The Patricia Julien Project.  Photo: Andy Duback.

Giant Steps, The Patricia Julien Project. Photo: Andy Duback.

You can learn more about Patricia Julien here. You can learn more about the Underscore project and podcast here, it’s available as a podcast many places including Spotify. And just a reminder: NCPR is listener supported, it’s never a bad time to contribute to the station.