Music Spotlight: Rozalind MacPhail

Music Spotlight: Rozalind MacPhail

Award-winning flutist and world class musician Rozalind MacPhail talks her island love affair and new EP Don’t Let Me Fall Too Far

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Rozalind MacPhail is a self-described island hopper. Growing up on Toronto Island, MacPhail’s life-long connection with music – predominantly that of the flute – has seen her talents stretched across North America and abroad. 

But her baby-steps towards the instrument that would become her calling and life’s work began out of necessity rather than intrigue. 

“When I was younger I was suffering from a pretty bad case of asthma and my parents were trying to find any way to treat my condition more naturally,” MacPhail shared with The Herald.

“My grandmother had read an article about how learning wind instruments helps asthmatics control their breathing better. So we tried it out, and there happened to be a flute player down the street. I started to learn the flute and I immediately took to the instrument. I really loved being able to express myself.”

Island love affair

Classically trained at the Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto – the same institution that produced the likes of Metric’s Emily Haines, Fefe Dobson, and Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew – MacPhail came to the realization that her talents would be best served outside of an orchestral setting. 

“Maybe my sense of being the soloist in front of the orchestra had to look different,” she explains. “So I started the journey of starting to write my own songs when I turned 30 and I just hit the road. I developed my craft through touring and I wanted to document every aspect of my songwriting journey.”

Within six months of building a body of work as a songwriter, MacPhail released her first EP. Six months later, another, followed by a full length album.

From Toronto Island to Vancouver Island to now living on The Rock for 10 years and counting, MacPhail has something of a love affair when it comes to island-living. Her attachment to Newfoundland and Labrador, however, has turned into a full-blown marriage. 

“I love being on islands. Anytime I’m on an island I feel grounded, I feel at peace and I feel inspired to create,” she explains. “The first time I toured through Newfoundland I toured on a Greyhound bus pass and I discovered when I got to North Sydney that the pass was no longer valid. I wanted to go visit a friend in St John’s so I actually hitchhiked with a trucker and got myself to St John’s and loved it so much. I just fell in love with the people and the place. Of course Newfoundland has this way of keeping us a little longer each time we visit. The second time I really didn’t want to leave.”

Laying down roots

By her third tour of the island MacPhail was committed to laying down roots. She loaded up her ’91 Buick Century Station Wagon and routed her tour to end here in the island’s capital, where she would sublet a home on Victoria Street. She’s called Newfoundland home ever since.

“I just thought this is home. This is the place where my heart shines,” she says. “I know I’ll still always be a come from away but Newfoundland is home to me.”

A world class flutist, teacher and film scorer renowned for her use of flute lopping, combining a classically trained repertoire with new and experimental modes of expression, MacPhail again pushes the limits of sound and scope with her new EP Don’t Let Me Fall Too Far, a project in collaboration with New Brunswick’s Arts Collective, Industrial Parks. 

“I would say it’s a departure from where I was last,” she says of the project, giving a nod to her ‘partner in crime’, audio engineer Terry Barrow. “The last two albums I created were more to really help the world become a better place and to help people find the coping skills they needed for that. Both recordings hold a very special place in my heart but I really wanted to go a different direction this time.”

MacPhail will take her show on the road this summer and fall, with dates and clinics in the U.S., Sweden and Denmark. 

“For me travelling is one of my biggest sources of inspiration. All of the work that I create is inspired by people, places and the human experience. If I wasn’t doing all this travelling I’m not sure if I’d be creating new work. And that’s really important to me to always keep things alive and always approach things with a beginner’s mind.”

Broadening her artistic reach on her own terms while helping mold the next wave of flutists, MacPhail’s passion for her craft, much like the talented artisan herself, is undeniable. 

“It’s almost like my voice,” she says proudly. “I feel the flute has always been my voice.”

For more visit MacPhail’s official social medias and website at rozalindmacphail.com

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