The Flute Player

Amy Rice Blumenthal
Amy Rice Blumenthal

The world-class flutist and successful businesswoman, Amy Rice Blumenthal has devoted her life to supporting the arts.

Every arts and culture enthusiast in Charlotte is familiar with the name Blumenthal, but not many of them can match the name with a face or story. Amy Rice Blumenthal has many stories, before and after the name Blumenthal had any significance in her life.

A huge supporter of the arts in Charlotte, Amy entered this world with humble beginnings. From the start, music was an ever-present force. Growing up in the wild landscape of Cheyenne, Wyoming, she started piano lessons at the young age of five. Just like any other subject you study in school, music in her family then and now was just as important. Her mother was a church organist and taught piano lessons from home. Her father, an insurance salesman, loved to play as well. Encouraged at a young age to pursue her musical interests, she decided to focus on the flute simply because her aunt had an extra one laying around. This gift changed Amy’s life forever.

Amy played the flute throughout her childhood, developing her style and personality on the instrument. Then, when Amy was a junior in high school, she applied and competed for a national scholarship against forty-nine other applicants in Central City, Colorado. She performed excellently, winning the Spence Primrose Scholarship and a full ride to college. However, this was more than a scholarship. This was the pivotal moment when she fully realized her potential; it was the moment she gained the confidence to pursue her passion and turn it into a lucrative career.

Throughout college, Amy worked fervently on perfecting her craft. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, she went on to earn two masters from the University of Michigan in flute performance.

In her professional life, Amy “was an early pioneer in the development of flute choirs, and ensembles, having coordinated chamber music for master-classes with William Bennett, Trevor Wye, and a variety of others. She has presented clinics internationally, has conducted the National High School Flute Choir, the NFA Professional Flute Choir, and numerous reading sessions for the NFA.”

While teaching and leading flute ensembles, Amy noticed there was a lack of new and interesting flute music for her groups, so she started to write her own. This eventually led to her own sheet music company, ALRY Publications, a business that allowed her to share her many arrangements for this genre with the numerous emerging flute ensembles. Being literally the only female in this field, she was not taken seriously at first. This proved to be one of the hardest challenges in her professional life.

“There was an unbelievable amount of prejudice towards women in the sheet music business because it was an all male dominated field. At the time, I was fearless, which still surprises me but it ultimately helped, because I was the only publisher that could play all of the sheet music I printed.”

No matter the challenges, Amy pushed on, overcoming doubters and turning ALRY into a successful publishing house. ALRY published and promoted the woodwind and chamber music of over 400 composers and arrangers, and eventually produced and published over 5,000 musical works.

Amy Rice Blumenthal
Amy Rice Blumenthal

 

During this time she also traveled the world performing in ensemble groups for thousands of people. This was an environment in which she absolutely thrived. She attributes her touring success to her love of performing in front of  people, something that many touring musicians find difficult. Although she relished in the memories of a huge stage, bright lights, and roaring applause, Amy still prefers a small venue for entertaining.

“My favorite venue is the living room.  In a big concert hall you can not see anyone. You can’t focus and watch people or their expressions to see how they are responding to you.  In a smaller venue, it becomes a very personal conversation with your audience.” This conversation with her audience is very important to Amy. “You are not on stage to play music for yourself. You have an obligation to your audience. These people have paid to hear you play and they need to be entertained.”

In between her travels, Amy was invited to teach a workshop at the beautiful Wildacres, a conference center retreat located in the mountains of North Carolina. Wildacres was set up to support and educate people in music, art, science, religion, lapidary, craft and writing.  While on the Wildacres campus, Amy fell in love with both the stunning scenery and the many goals of Wildacres. But that was not all she fell in love with. Here, she met her husband, Philip Blumenthal.  

The day she made Charlotte her home was the day she began to work tirelessly to support the arts in Charlotte, not just music, but all arts. It is no secret that Amy is blessed with a strong will and determination that can fulfill most goals she puts her mind to.  She has been on too many boards to count and has pretty much mastered the art of raising money for worthy causes. Though she realizes how important raising money is for these local groups, she believes it is not the most important resource she can offer.

“What I really want to do is effect procedural change. I want people to really think about who they are, what they do and why and how they can be better.  I don’t always just want to raise money.  The biggest challenge groups have is to understand how they can be better.  If you are not getting better and striving for the best, then you aren’t working hard enough.”

Amy Rice Blumenthal
Amy Rice Blumenthal

 

Amy still loves to perform and play the flute. In the most recent years, her favorite event she participates in is with the Choir School at St. Peter’s. Every Christmas, over one hundred kids perform for the public in several different choirs. It is Amy’s favorite event for many reasons but primarily she loves the enthusiasm that the kids bring to the concerts.

“They love being there. They sing their souls out and their enthusiasm is contagious. Everyone is charmed with these concerts and there is never an empty seat.”

Amy Blumenthal’s passion for the arts has lasted the test of time and shows no sign of slowing down. Her sheet music business that she founded and ran for 32 years, was sold three years ago, giving her more time to focus on her charitable pursuits. There are many things that are important to Amy Blumenthal and throughout the years she has managed to pursue her dream, start and sell a business, break the glass ceiling, fall in love, raise a family, and help her community. So when looking to the future she understands that we live in a different world and with these differences there need to be changes for the arts to thrive in these changing times. Luckily we have people like Amy Blumenthal to pave the way with these new ideas.

“We have a certain responsibility as requested to share information and experiences to teach and educate in any way we can.”

For more information on Amy Blumenthal and Wildacres visit www.wildacres.org.