On the day following her amazing recital with Katherine Chi at Jordan Hall, Paula Robison and I met at the house she shares with her husband, Scott Nickrenz, with its bird’s eye view of Frederick Law Olmsted’s house and garden. In the hour or so we talked we covered a lot of ground: the concert, her preparations for it, and some of the music she played…we talked about Sidney Lanier, the poet, linguist, and self-taught flute virtuoso, who died at 39 of tuberculosis contracted as a Confederate prisoner of war, and Charles T. Griffes, who died at 35 of the same disease, leaving behind a remarkable body of exploratory compositions, Paul Taffanel, the founder of modern flute playing and the teacher of Ms. Robison’s teacher, the great Marcel Moyse. We talked about Isabella Stewart Gardner and her museum, Bernard and Mary Berenson, her brother Logan Pearsall Smith, Marlboro, Marcel Moyse, Rudolf Serkin, and Pablo Casals. We also talked about spirituality, Christianity and Judaism, and the CDs she has made in collaboration with Berkshire artist Jim Schantz, Places of the Spirit, featuring the Berkshires in one album and the Israel in another. And then there was the acoustics of Jordan Hall and Alice Tully Hall—the old one and the new one compared—the Tannery Pond Concerts and their knowledgeable audience, the heritage of her progressively-minded parents…and driving in Boston!
The interview is introduced and concluded with excerpts from Sidney Lanier’s Wind Song, which you can hear in its entirety below.