This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Questions &Answers

Published: February 10, 2005

Flutist Cheryl Gobbetti Hoffman is adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Music, College of Arts and Sciences.

Why the flute?
The flute and I found each other at a "meet and greet" for band instruments presented by the instrumental music program of the public elementary school I attended. Something about the silvery aspect and vocal tones of the flutes played by a trio of upperclassmen captured my fancy and the relationship simply clicked. Once in hand, that flute proved a good fit viscerally and vocally. We continue together to this day, despite—or perhaps, because of—the more than 30 working years we have spent together.

What do you enjoy most about performing? Teaching?
Center stage has become my safe haven—it is there I feel I communicate most eloquently. I love sharing the realm of heightened awareness and intensely mindful interaction performers visit in search of the miraculous, conspiring to decode old messages, as well as the only just-imagined. Each concert experience challenges audience members and performers alike to open their minds beyond intention and meet in the magical space between, for what may seem only a fleeting moment in the overall scheme of things. Those rare moments, when the "house" finds synchronicity, in this sense reward with an other-worldly quality that has no equal, in my estimation. Addictive, uplifting and—in a wildly weird way—very human.
Teaching allows me to do my small part in keeping the cycle of generations going by reinvesting the energy others have shared with me along my path. I embrace the opportunity to work closely with an individual, gleaning his or her nature and quality. Free to unleash my imagination, as well as my vast repertory of experiences, I work with them to devise a program facilitating goal achievement, as well as productive surprise. It is a joyful community we build together, employing cooperative competition and mutual respect and support.

You've achieved every artist's dream—playing in Carnegie Hall. What was that like?
Reaching for this experience mid-career and enjoying return engagements has kept me dancing at the edge of possibility, continually striving for better personal bests. I can think of no better way to facilitate students' hopes and dreams than by setting one's own bar extremely high and living—to always go for it, despite the odds. Perhaps Emily Dickinson said it best: "...hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul—and sings the tune without the words that never stops at all..." I relish my moments and revisit them whenever the weary spirit demands renewal.

What is whooosh?
Whooosh is a resource fund I have been able to create—with kind assistance from the W & J Larson Family Fund and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which matches the Larsen gifts—and administer through the UB Foundation. It provides the flute studio with a financial conduit for prospective grants and donors, and enhances funding available for curricular, as well as extra-curricular student projects and activities, thereby enriching the possibilities inherent to our program.

Last year you organized Pantasmagoria, one of the few conferences devoted solely to the flute. Was it successful? Will you be hosting another conference this summer?
Pantasmagoria 2004 was extremely successful and, thanks to this success, I will be hosting Pantasmagoria 2005 at UB this summer. Although there are many flute festivals, flute "fairs" and residential seminars or master classes presented throughout the year by the various flute clubs and university groups in existence today, we believe Pantasmagoria occupies a unique niche in educational and performing marketplaces. It is definitely the first annual festival and conference of this sort to be held at UB. With the Creative Associates of earlier days at UB and the ever-exciting and successful June in Buffalo festival as our models, we strive to develop a program that deftly mixes performance and pedagogy. As a result, we offer an intensive course that leaves no time for self-doubt, hesitation or stodginess. Our almost round-the-clock schedule of lessons, workshops and performances infuses the conference with high-spirited camaraderie and some truly mind-blowing accomplishments.

You do a lot of community outreach. Tell me about your work with the Western New York institute for the Arts-in-Education and Young Audiences of Western New York.
In my previous roles as a tenured Buffalo Philharmonic musician and private teacher for aspiring Western New York flute students ages 12-18, I was often invited to reach into the community as a teaching artist. On a personal level, these opportunities added chamber music and self-actualized presentations to my weekly considerations; professionally, they brought me into the schools, as well as face to face with Western New York's music enthusiasts. What better way to keep a finger on the pulse of your audience? Additionally, board service for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as Young Audiences, better informed my understanding of the nuts-and-bolts workings of not-for-profit organizations—an imperative in today's economically dependent artistic world!

Do you enjoy other types of music beside classical? Who are some of your favorite performers?
I enjoy aural exploration, certainly, and find traveling beyond the bounds of so-called "classical" music invigorating as well as interesting. I confess to being most moved by indigenous performers of other cultures—Japanese shakuhachi (bamboo flute), Tuvan throat-singing, the multiphonic singing of Buddhist monks, Indian bansuri (a wind instrument similar to a flute) and Balinese gamelan (a kind of percussion ensemble) are among the exciting other voices I enjoy.

What question do you wish I had asked, and how would you have answered it?
Why UB? When my friend and colleague David Felder, Birge-Cary Chair in Composition and then chair of the Department of Music, queried me about teaching at UB, I was flattered, yet reluctant. In my student days, very clear lines were drawn between performers and "academics"—never were the twain to meet! David's vision for the music department was one of performer-scholars and cutting-edge activities coming together to create a vibrant community of research and realization. I found this vision compelling, and it encouraged me to take the leap and sign on. That jump changed my professional life inexplicably for the better. What a wonderful way to live art, interacting with inspiring colleagues in the music department and throughout the university that welcome and support my ideas and activities as well.