This May, Sarah Thompson will make her debut at Carnegie Hall. For six months, she has spent what precious spare time she has had between classes, band gigs, teaching and working, practicing for the moment of a lifetime. Truly though, Thompson has been working towards this for 12 years – ever since she started playing the flute.
“I chose the flute because I liked the way it fit in my hands, and I liked the way the vibrations are made through the tube,” she says. “I grew up as a landscaper and irrigator with my parents, and I would always blow across the couplings because they were all different sizes that made different sounds. I believe I picked the flute because of that.”
Thompson has always excelled in music. She made the Oklahoma All-State Orchestra in high school, was principal in the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute Orchestra in 2012 and was principal for The Tulsa Youth Symphony her junior and senior year. She is now a flute performance major at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, where she won their 2016 Concerto Competition. She also performs in a funk band called the Quahlity Vibes and plays for the Oklahoma National Guard Band.
Last year, Thompson put those skills to the test by entering the American Protégé International Woodwinds and Brass Competition. The contest invites musicians from around the world to submit an audition via video or audio for a chance to play in the prestigious New York City theater.
“A private teacher once told me six years ago that if I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than performing, then I was in the right place,” Thompson says. “I keep this in mind, stay calm, and I have yet to lose the passion for conveying music in any way I can. I continue to feel the music pass through me to the audience. I have moved from just loving flute and orchestra to undertaking all types of music and their varied audiences. I feel overwhelmed with joy and excitement when I think of how I will always, no matter what it takes, be an ever-evolving musician.”
She will be playing an unaccompanied piece by Eugene Bozza, a French contemporary composer.
“I had friends and loved ones take a listen and observed their reaction to the works,” Thompson says of the selection process. “After a short while, ‘Image’ was the obvious decision. I loved that it was contemporary, and when I play through the piece, it feels so natural and fun! I have never lost passion for playing ‘Image’, and I knew I wouldn’t when I met the piece.”
Thompson’s upcoming trip is certain to be a memorable one.
“I have never been to New York before, and I get to go with my mother, Shelly, and [fiancé] Tucker,” she says. “We have had so much help with tickets and places to stay, so the load is light enough for us to spend our four days having as much of an experience as possible – not to mention the height of my musical career happening at 1 p.m., May 1 at Carnegie Hall!”