The worlds of classical and electronic music, while sharing many traits, are often seen as being at the opposite end of the musical spectrum. On some occasions, though, they can be combined to create unique and original artistry. Such is the work of Music Advancement Program (MAP) faculty member Nathalie Joachim (MAP ’96; Pre-College ’01; B.M. ’05, flute) whose two-flute electronic music ensemble, Flutronix, will release its second album next month.
Like many musicians, Joachim began playing the flute through a school music program. When she was growing up, in West Orange, N.J., every fourth grader had to either play an instrument or sing in the choir; Joachim and her group of friends decided to learn flute together. Perhaps having studied the piano since the age of 4 contributed to her aptitude for the flute, for it was only three months after she started that her band teacher, a flutist, suggested that she audition for MAP. This Saturday-morning program had been created at Juilliard in 1991 to educate musically inclined students from groups that are typically underrepresented in the performing arts. The 8- to 14-year-olds in the program study music theory and ear training along with having private lessons.
Of her own acceptance so soon after she took up the flute, Joachim told The Journal, “kids have to have more experience now than they did then.” But she thrived in the program and, was soon was accepted into the Pre-College Division—where she began what she calls a “practice pre-professional experience”—and subsequently the College Division.
Six years ago, Joachim tapped her loves for electronic music and playing flute to form Flutronix with Allison Loggins-Hull. The Wall Street Journal described the group last year as having “a unique blend of classical music, hip-hop, electronic programming and soulful vocals reminiscent of neo-R&B stars like Erykah Badu.” The duo maintains an active schedule, writing, recording, and publishing their music as well as giving performances and master classes.
And then Joachim was offered a chance to return to MAP as a teacher this past fall. While she finds value in having participated in MAP herself, she tries not to let her own experience color her teaching. “I want to aid the students in living up to the standards of these programs,” she said. “It’s important to get to know the kids as they grow and help them move forward and lead them to what’s important for them.”
Joachim is one of only a couple people who have successfully completed the MAP, Pre-College, and College Division programs. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see someone you knew as a young student grow and flourish in the profession, and then return home to give back to the program which gave her the access and opportunity to thrive in classical music,” Joan Warren, Juilliard’s vice president for enrollment management and student development, told The Journal. She added that Joachim’s story “is testimony to the fact that MAP contributes to the diversity, range, and excellence of the future performing-arts community.”
Joachim feels a sense of pride and accomplishment about having been such a complete product of Juilliard but said even her teachers could see that she wasn’t headed down a “straight-arrow path,” unlike many of her fellow woodwind players. Still, she spent her Juilliard years focused and dedicated, creating key connections with her teachers while not being afraid to wholeheartedly apply herself to actualizing her ideas. And she hopes to continue honing those traits while running her business and teaching at Juilliard for a long time to come—likely inspiring others to follow their own paths of successful hard work and innovation.
To find out more about Flutronix, go to flutronix.com. To find out more about MAP, go to juilliard.edu/MAP.