of the Arts Award Winner Kat Epple
month I wrote about the YOUNG ARTIST'S AWARDS and the ANGEL OF THE
ARTS AWARDS and I felt that I should get to know some of these award
winners. I have not formally met Kat Epple, but I have
seen her name in print many times and I have heard her performances
at various art openings, etc. I feel that she probably has
a very impressive background....
RDW: What was your reaction to receiving the ANGEL OF THE ARTS AWARD for
Performance Artist of the year last March?
KE: It was an honor to receive the award, especially since the judges were all
arts professionals. I salute The Alliance for the Arts for creating this award
to acknowledge artists and those in the arts community for their contributions.
RDW: At what age did you realize or someone else realize that you had such
KE: I always wanted to play the flute, even as a pre-schooler. I started
playing flute when I was 9 years old, and am mostly self-taught. I started improvising
and composing my own music early on. I also loved the tradition and mythology
of the flute....from Krishna to the Pied Piper, flutists are the bringers of
spirituality and magic.
RDW: Do you feel you inherited this ability from any members of your family? Do
you have a family here? Husband? Children? If so, do they have
the same musical abilites that you do? (I combined this question with another,
hope that's OK)
KE: My brother and sister-in-law live in SWFL, and I have friends here whom
I consider family. I am not married. My immediate family members are not/were
not musicians. In fact, my mother urged me not to become a professional musician.
She was worried that it would be such a difficult way to make a living. Well,
she was correct, but I can't think of a more exciting and rewarding life than
playing music for a living. It has taken me around the world, and allowed me
to meet incredible people.
RDW: Duffey loved classical music from a very early age. We
kept the classical music playing in his room while he was still in the crib. He
would rather listen to PETER AND THE WOLF performed by a Symphony orchestra and
narrated by Peter Ustinov rather than listen to Disney's version. As he
got older his musical tastes started to include the popular music of the
day. His mom and I didn't care for the contemporary music he
listened to, but thought as long as he still liked the classics it was all right. Are
you into any of the contemporary sounds? Musical theatre?
KE: I think it is healthy for him to be open to many styles of music. There
is a lot of serious music that is not "classical."
I enjoy Electronica, Techno, Hip Hop, Alternative, World and Jazz. When I go
to New York City, which I often do, I seek out clubs and other venues where innovative
live music is being played. I like to listen to music with an edge, to hear something
I've never heard before. It's inspiring to listen to and to play with those musicians
who are driven to create something brand new and totally original.
RDW: Fill me in on your various jobs.
KE: I have been making my living as a musician for many years. The way I accomplish
that difficult task, is to have many irons in the fire at all times.
First of all, I compose, produce, and record music for film, websites, and television.
In fact, have won eight Emmy Awards for my music for television. I have a digital
recording studio in my home and serve as my own recording engineer. I compose
and produce the music on digital keyboards which can create almost any sound....
from an entire orchestra, to an African drum, to waves lapping up on the beach
as needed. Some of
the television shows I have created music for include: National Geographic,
Nova, CNN, Carl Sagan Documentaries, Another World, The Guiding Light (soap
operas), The Travel Channel, Turner Broadcasting System, The History Channel,
HGN, and NASA among others. Also, I have studied the music of the Native Calusa,
and compose "Calusa Inspired" music for documentaries about these mysterious
Live performance would be another of my "irons in the fire". I perform in concert
here in the US, and around the world. I usually perform as a solo flautist, where
I play my various flutes from around the world. Sometimes I perform with keyboardist,
Chuck Grinnell, as a duet. At other times, I play with my band, which includes
Nathan Dyke on world drums, percussion and didjeridoo, Miko Amore on bass, and
Chuck on keyboard. That music is a world music style utilizing many unusual instruments
and textures. When I perform in New York City, I often play with cellist Lawrence
Zoernig. We play more of a classical/jazz style. I have also recently recorded
with guitarist Ted Myerson and drummer Darrell Nutt. Each different ensemble
is a unique sound and fun to play with.
Some of the more interesting places I have played include: solo performances
at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, with Symphony
Orchestras, The National Gallery, Washington DC, Whitney Museum in NYC, Palazzo Dei Diamanti,
Ferrara, Italy, concerts at the Hollywood Palace,
L.A., a concert tour of Russia, with Modern Dance Troupes, and for many art
openings. Last September 11th, I was invited by Mayor Bloomberg's Office to
perform at Ground Zero in New York City.
Another of my "irons
in the fire" would include my record company. I don't manufacture the actual CDs
themselves, but I do record them, promote them, contact DJs, program directors,
distributors, and music reviewers around the world. I also keep track of
inventory, send invoices, pack the CDs up, ship them out, and market them. I
have released 14 albums under various record labels and band names, including
Emerald Web, White Crow, and my latest, Kat Epple and Chuck Grinnell. My
"Catspaw" album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1986, It was originally
released on Passport Records, but I have since then, re-attained the rights to
release it on my own record label. In addition to selling the CDs, the music
is available on many of the digital download sites such as iTunes and Napster.
As you can imagine, much of my time is spent on the business of music. I think
that is one of the reasons I have been able to make a living as a musician, I
am also a pretty good business person.
I also lead workshops and speak to audiences on several topics including music
and healing, flutes which I have collected from all over the world (I have over
two hundred of them so far), and I also have a short program I present to children.
I am working on creating an artist/musician community for Americans interested
in building a home in Costa Rica. (Just another of my many projects)
RDW: How long have you been in the Ft Myers area?
KE: Sixteen years. Before that I lived for many years in San Francisco.
RDW: Do you give private lessons in our area? If so, do you
have many promising students?
KE: I do not give private lessons, per se, but I do try to encourage any aspiring
musician to go for it. I think that you are never too young, nor too old to begin
to learn a new instrument. If you love music, do it!
RDW: If you were not into the music scene, what occupation do you feel
you would have found rewarding?
KE: A doctor with Doctors Without Borders
RDW: What occupation would you absolutely have hated?
KE: Coal miner!!!!!!!
RDW: I remember seeing your name in the credits for the movie CAPTIVA ISLAND
that was filmed here a few years back. Did you compose the music for that
film? My son worked on that film also.
KE: I was Music Director on that film which starred Ernest Borgnine, Bill Cobbs
and Norma Miller. It was directed by my friend, John Biffar.
RDW - I often see your photo in various publications with world renowned artist,
Robert Rauschenberg. Can you tell us a little about your friendship?
KE - He is a very dear friend, and an inspiration. Just knowing him, and having
the opportunity to travel with him, and talk to him about art has been very enriching.
He often invites me to play music for his art openings, and that is always a
wonderful adventure!! For instance, I
was the first American musician to play at the Bilbao, Spain, Guggenheim Museum.
RDW: What has been the most rewarding part of your career at this point
in your life?
to the far reaches of the globe including China, Africa, Russia, The Amazon,
Europe, Peru, Mexico, Japan, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean, to learn of the
people, natural environment, and the music of other cultures. I use music in my
work toward environmental and humanitarian awareness. When I travel, I strive to
meet local musicians and flute makers, to play music with them and to find new
flutes for my collection, which I feature in my original compositions and
RDW- Besides music, what else do you enjoy doing?
A -As I mentioned before, I LOVE to travel
I also love nature - camping and hiking. I love to dance.
RDW: I know you have mentioned a few of the up and coming events you are
looking forward to...including a CD and a performance in Washington, DC. Can
you tell us about these exciting future programs?
KE: My latest CD, "Azure Pieces of Life" is getting great reviews and is selling
well, especially in Europe (Belarus, Italy and Spain). The music is performed
and spontaneously composed by me and my long-time friend, keyboardist Chuck Grinnell,
and is inspired by the natural beauty of Southwest Florida where we both reside.
Some of the song titles are: "Soaring Osprey", "Captiva Sail", "Peace River" and "Calusa
Shadow". The music is all original, all instrumental, and performed on flute
I am currently recording three new albums. One is solo flute, and features various
flutes from my collection. The second is a recording with my World Band. The
third album I am working on is an Ambient, electronic sound.
In May I play at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, and in June, I plan
to go to Nice, France for Bob Rauschenberg's opening at the MAMAC Museum.
RDW: You mentioned to me something about Axel Javier's upcoming Masquerade
Ball Charity event. You said that you were not really involved with this, but
let's give Axel a bit of publicity about this. What can you tell me? And
what is the Charity?
KE: Yes, I am involved with that event, but am not an official spokesperson.
It is the Grand Masquerade Ball at Harborside on June 18, 2005. This Rennaissance
masquerade ball and silent art auction promises to be quite unique and spectacular!
The fundraiser benefits local AIDS organizations. For more info on that, contact
Axel Javier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I lend my support to many charitable foundations
by donating my live music performance, my time, and lots of energy. Some of those
charities are: Alliance for the Arts, The Arts for ACT Auction, Florida Repertory
Theater, Big brothers Big Sisters, Make a Wish, Humane Society, Island Coast
AIDS network, AIDS Resource Center, Nature Conservancy, Children's Hospital,
Children of the Guatemala City Dump, Randell Research Center, Adonis Center,
FGCU, Florida Arts, and many more.
In fact, I will be playing flute again for the Arts for ACT Auction at Harborside
on August 20th.
RDW: I am sorry to keep bringing up my son, but I can relate musically
to you through him. Duffey attended Interlochen Arts Academy as a high
school Junior and Senior. Have you ever been to Interlochen? It is
for me "a heaven on earth" for talented young men and women. Duff then
went to Eastman School of Music. However, after graduation he packed up
his car and went to Hollywood to be an actor. (I never knew that he wanted
to be an actor) Any suggestions how I can get him back into his musical
field? Don't mean to put you on a spot.
KE: I have never been to Interlochen. It sounds wonderful, though.
I would encourage Duffy to give acting a try- Maybe it will work out for him!!!
If not, at least he won't regret having never tried to do it. Perhaps he might
eventually like to compose music soundtracks for the film industry, thus combining
RDW: Kat, thank you for giving me the time to talk to you. The next
time I attend an event where you are performing, I will be sure to stop by and
say 'hello!' Everyone who reads this, please do the same...but not in the
middle of a piece!
KE: Well, since I perform only original music, I guess I can end the piece at
any time, including in the middle! ;-) So stop by and say hello anytime!!
RDW: What a very impressive career.
Ms Kat Epple was definitely worthy and she is an ANGEL OF THE ARTS in Lee County.
For more info about Kat's
music, visit katepple.com