As a diva is to singing, so is Stephanie Jutt to playing the flute: a top-flight artist, an active, vibrant personality, and -- in the good sense -- something of a character. A member of the UW School of Music faculty and principal flutist in the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Jutt is also a mainstay partner, with pianist Jeffrey Sykes, in the highly successful chamber-music group, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. But in the near term, there are big changes on the docket for Jutt, both personally and professionally. She has countless current projects and planned activities churning around in her head at any one time, with the result that even sitting down she's moving faster than some people run.
I managed to corral her long enough last week to find out what's ahead, as though all her music projects and being the mother of two young kids didn't already take up every available second. "Well, on Sunday I'm getting married [to Charles Bentley, an attorney from Durham, NC] -- wait till you see the hat I'm going to wear -- and as you know, I'll be taking a leave of absence from the Music School and the MSO for the coming season. I'm hoping to come back, but that's still an open issue at this point; I have until December to let them know our final decision." It's hard to convey the excitement and obvious anticipation in Jutt's speech, which like everything she does, moves along at a very rapid clip, punctuated by smiles, laughter, and many parentheses within parentheses. She is a first-rate storyteller.
I asked about this summer's BDDS concerts and about rumored plans for the expansion of BDDS. The group has always included a varied number of additional players, and this year's pair of programs is no different in that respect. As in earlier years, the group will play each program at Taliesin in Spring Green a week before bringing it to the Isthmus Playhouse at the Civic Center in Madison. But for the first time, the Madison concerts will feature two performances of each program, rather than one, the first program on July 22 and 23, the second on July 28 and 29 (Mondays and Tuesdays). So expansion is already more than a rumor. "We've gotten this far primarily on grants and on volunteer organizing effort," Jutt explains, "but now we're hoping to attract additional funding so we can put things on a more solid footing. Jeffrey has a genius for administration, but there's only so much we can do without funds for a paid coordinator position." Beyond that, Jutt envisions the BDDS having a real home, a place to work and prepare their concerts, to serve as a base for an extensive educational and outreach program the group envisions. "Those things take money, of course, so we're looking for sponsors, dance partners, so to speak."
Jutt is also determined to expand personally as a musician. "Although I am always stressed on the outside, inside my true self I am calm and steady," she says. "I'm moving to North Carolina, where I'd like to get busy on making one or two solo CDs and learning to play the Baroque flute. The year I spent with Sotavento, which was so stimulating, made me want to deepen my experience with Latin music. I like being `at the edge,' working with others who are keen on getting as much out of the music as they can."
Madison is close to her heart. "I'm incredibly grateful to Madison," she says. "The place has been so supportive. The UW has been great. Laura Barron, who will replace me with the MSO in the coming season, is a really good player. But I am also hopeful everything will work out so that I can be back here before long."
Whatever the eventual outcome of this incredibly dynamic musician's life, she is a near limitless source of energy and inspiration for everyone around her. In my opinion, our community will be very lucky if fate conspires to return her to the local scene.
Isthmus, June, 1996
Copyright 1996 Jess Anderson