Recendez begged her parents to play the flute. When she was 8, her mother finally took her to a reluctant music teacher who said she was too young for lessons. “He handed me a flute and said, ‘Here you go. Try to make a sound,’” Recendez says. “I made a sound on the first try.” The rest, as they say, is history. By Crystal Hammon. Adapted from Classical Music Indy’s NOTE Magazine.
By Crystal Hammon
You hear about people who were prescient enough to choose their lifelong calling at a tender age. Count Laura Recendez among the lucky few. “When I was 4 years old, my parents and I went to a Saturday market in downtown Los Angeles with lots of street performers,” Recendez says. “One of them was a flute player and I was so mesmerized by the performer that I refused to leave.”
Afterwards, Recendez begged her parents to play the flute. When she was 8, her mother finally took her to a reluctant music teacher who said she was too young for lessons. “He handed me a flute and said, ‘Here you go. Try to make a sound,’” Recendez says. “I made a sound on the first try.” The rest, as they say, is history.
The Long Beach, California native studied music performance at Chapman University and completed an advanced degree at California State University, Northridge. She is one of a dozen or more classical musicians selected for Classical Music Indy’s Music Unites Artists program. The artists travel the city to play for people who wouldn’t otherwise hear live classical performances. Her audiences are elderly people, those with limited incomes and children in after-school programs designed to give kids their first taste of classical music.
Beyond her Music Unites gigs, life is a dizzying regimen. Recendez gives private flute lessons to mostly adult students, plays weddings, holiday parties and special events, and performs with two orchestras—the Anderson Symphony Orchestra and the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra. Recendez is also the music director and conductor for Indy Winds Flute Choir, a 30-person wind orchestra she founded in 2011.
The 33-year-old classical musician juggles two additional roles: new mother to a baby boy born last fall and co-founder of Chickadee Gardens, a local nonprofit that runs an urban farm. Their mission is to make healthy foods affordable in the city’s eastside food deserts and to help people learn about home food production and nutrition.
“If you have an abundance—whether it’s time, money or other resources or skills—the idea is to give back in whatever way you can,” Recendez says. “The appeal of Music Unites and Random Acts of Music is returning something to the community and sharing music with children and seniors in a way that feels very valuable. To use something I love so much to bring joy to other people is really cool.”
With 25 years of experience as a musician, Recendez has spent a significant amount of time on the stages of concert halls and auditoriums, but her most meaningful and unpredictable performances are those for Music Unites. “When we’re doing these concerts in schools and assisted living centers, it’s nothing like a concert hall,” she says. “You’re looking people straight in the eye and you can see the reaction.”
Forget all your ideas about listening to music as a private experience. Recendez says the space between audience and performer is never dead—especially not in intimate places such as these. “If you’re in tune with your audience, you can tell when they are listening, even without visual or auditory clues,” she says. “You can sense when they are locked in.”
She witnesses everything from boredom and grief to joy and engagement. It all depends on where someone is in their life experience and what’s happening to each person at the time of the performance.
In Recendez’s mind, there’s no wrong way to listen. As much as she loves classical music, she is well aware that it isn’t everyone’s favorite, often dismissed as too fancy, too intellectual or too outdated. “Everyone’s journey with classical music is on its own schedule,” she says. “At its core, classical music is about the human experience. When you sit down and listen with that in mind, and relate what you’re hearing to your own life, it allows you to hear so much more than the notes that are being played.”