Classical Reunion – 18th April 2021

The NRSO is featuring two of its own flute players as soloists in the upcoming concert, Classical Reunion.  Here, we find out more about Joanna Sullivan and Noelle McAlister.

1: When did you start playing the flute and what has drawn you to this instrument?  Do you play any other instruments?


Joanna Sullivan

Joanna: I had played the recorder quite seriously since I was about 6 years old, taught by my next-door neighbour.  Her sister was the famous Australian composer and flute player, Anne Boyd.  When I first saw her flute at 11 years of age, I fell in love with it and started playing flute.  Later on, we even played duets together!  I was also very fortunate to go to Blackburn High School in Melbourne which happened to be one of the first schools in the country to introduce the American band system, so I received lessons at school.  I also play piano, well enough to accompany my students to about grade 6 level.

Noelle: I started playing the flute when I was 10 years old.  In fact, I used to be one of Joanna’s students.  I chose the flute because it was shiny!  I also play saxophone and clarinet.

2: The NRSO is very fortunate to have you perform with us regularly.  How were you introduced to the NRSO and when did you join this orchestra?  What do you normally do in your “day job”?

Noelle: I started playing piccolo and 3rd flute with the NRSO since 2006 and became a regular player about 10 years ago.

In my day job, I teach the flute at All Saints Anglican School, The Southport School and privately at my home studio. I also do a lot of musical theatre work, being in demand as a doubler (playing up to 5 instruments in one show).

Joanna: I first played with the NRSO about 20 years ago when I was invited by Rob Phelp, the bass player.  I then re-joined 10 years ago when I was invited back to play 2nd flute.  By day I teach flute at All Saints Anglican School and have a busy private studio.

3: Please tell us about a memorable concert that you’ve performed in and why it was so special?

Joanna: I have been fortunate to play two Mozart concertos with the Gold Coast Philharmonic Orchestra at The Arts Centre Gold Coast.  I also loved the experience of playing the Bach Brandenburg Concerto for Two Flutes with Anna Stoddart and the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Spiros Rantos.

Noelle McAlister

Noelle: The most memorable performance I’ve done was when I was asked to play solo flute on a boat at Sanctuary Cove.  I assumed that ‘boat’ meant ‘luxury yacht’, but upon my arrival I discovered I was to sit in a small wooden rowboat in the middle of a pond and play my flute for two hours.

4: In this concert you are performing together in the Concerto in G minor for Two Flutes by J.J. Quantz.  How long does it take you to prepare for this program and how often do you have to rehearse together?

Noelle: Joanna and I get together and play duets once a week – we have been doing this for about 10 years now.  We have been preparing for this concerto together since the beginning of last year.

Joanna: This concerto was programmed in one of the NRSO concerts in 2020, but then COVID-19 hit.  We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform it at an informal concert at All Saints Anglican school with a small chamber orchestra.