JACKSON, Wyo. — There aren’t many people that have moved to Jackson Hole to accept a professional position in the music industry. Amanda Flosbach did just that in 2005, hired by Grand Teton Music Festival (GTMF) following three seasons of contract work. She would spend a total of ten seasons with GTMF before taking on the Development Director position and wearing many other hats at Dancer’s Workshop. She’s “over the moon” to be back in music as the new Executive Director of Teton Music School and the trajectory wouldn’t have panned out without determination, access to music education, and the occasional kitschy horn record. This conversation took place on day seven of her new position.
BR: You play French horn, correct? What’s your background with the instrument and what doors has it opened for you?
Amanda Flosbach: Yes. I grew up in rural Wisconsin and had the great benefit of being part of a really strong public music program. In the fifth grade my parents let me pick up a garage sale instrument, a military cornet, because that’s what fit the budget. Within two years I found the instrument that called to me and that was French horn. It was constant companion through middle and high school, I majored in music in college [at University of Wisconsin Eau Claire], and I still play now. I had taken some time off before moving here, and joined a chamber ensemble in 2007 and have had various gigs on and off. It’s a group of incredibly diverse people with whom my path would probably not otherwise cross. So for me personally, music really provides connectivity. Any art that you pursue is an invitation to transcend our basic biology and really explore what it means to be human.
Buckrail: Is there an educational moment that stands out in your formative years?
Flosbach: Before I made the decision that I wasn’t going to pursue the performing thing and the hard audition route as my career, I was and still am obsessed with this Hollywood studio horn player Vincent DeRossa. He’s the guy behind the E.T. soundtrack, Superman, so many from the 60s/70s. I once drove across the country in a 1970 Lincoln Town Coupe to get a lesson with him. He was super retired at the time. Private lessons with high end people like that can be $3-$400 and we had never discussed a price. I was bracing myself and had made a big withdrawal from the bank that I brought with me. He says, “You drove an awful long way for this lesson. Is $40 too much?”
Buckrail: When was Teton Music School nonprofit established and what potential do you envision for the school?
Flosbach: It was established in 2019 and really got up and running with its space in the Center for the Arts in September of last year. So it’s a startup and a growing organization. Helping to build the capacity and extend the accessibility of music education more broadly across the community is really exciting for me. Anyone that wants to learn how to make music or wants to make music can come here and do that, and the teaching staff here is equipped to take you on a legitimate trajectory if you’re really achieving and want to learn more. But also if you’ve wanted to pick up the guitar or take a piano lesson, that’s also accessible to anyone that wants to do it. We have scholarship funds to help people afford lessons. There’s such a rich musical tradition in our community and there’s a real opportunity to grow this. With a full roster of over 110 students, we made a quick pivot when COVID hit and get our students and teachers capable of handling virtual lessons. This fall, with an abundance of protocol and precaution, we are offering in-person lessons with plans A, B and C for various levels of COVID concern.
Buckrail: What songs or artists would be in your current listening rotation versus your formative years?
Flosbach: Nirvana was there and then it came back. One of my single greatest regrets of not seeing a person’s live performance is Nina Simone. I do love Tom Waits. I love classical music. I’m currently digging through a stack of Kronos Quartet CDs that were gifted to me. Also, I love Chicago Symphony Orchestra recordings under Fritz Reiner. A lot of Led Zeppelin has been playing in the house lately. VOCES8, an cappella group that sings a lot of sacred music of the renaissance. And I have a collection of the weirdest vinyl—really kind of kitsch stuff that you wouldn’t ever listen to, only because there’s a two-minute amazing horn moment by a particular horn player; cheeseball stuff like Billy May’s Big Fat Brass and Julius Watkins’ album French Horns for My Lady.
For more information about Teton Music School, visit TetonMusicSchool.org.
375 E. SPRUCE DRIVE Jackson
43 RIVER TRAIL CIRCLE Alpine
175 S KING STREET Jackson
167 W CENTER STREET Victor
8840 TIMBER LN Jackson
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