by Michelle Hoffman
After more than 18 years of leading MYSO’s flute choirs, Lenee Stevens retired from her position of Music Director of our Chamber Flute Ensemble and Flute Chorale this spring.
We reached out to several of the more than 400 flutists she has taught at MYSO. We are delighted to share some of their memories with you. We discovered that encouraging, inspirational, and enthusiastic are how these alumni fondly remember Ms. Stevens.
Freelance musician/educator Olivia Dobbs (2011) recalls, “laughter and camaraderie were at the core of Ms. Stevens’ work. Her lively disposition made every meeting a festive occasion.”
Anne Daley (2012), who just finished a Master’s degree in flute from Indiana University, describes Lenee as “…one of the most enthusiastic pedagogues I have encountered; making music becomes an incredibly dynamic experience under her direction.”
Freelance flutist Tatiana Pearson (2009), who has earned Bachelors and Master’s degrees in music performance from UW-Milwaukee recalls, “Lenee always brought positive energy and plenty of jokes to rehearsal…always accompanied by her boundless musical wisdom.”
Her ability to make every individual feel important, while at the same time creating a cohesive team, stands out with these musicians. Dobbs said, “She made each flutist feel they were essential to the group’s success. In doing this, she encouraged both fine playing and esprit de corps in a group of varying backgrounds and experience.”
All the flutists we spoke to agree that she has shaped lives. Sarah Neuman, Ph.D. (2007) is a research scientist at UW-Madison. “Lenee has an incredible ability to inspire confidence, bringing out the best in young flutists…the poise I developed under her baton still impact me today on my new ‘stage’ when I present my research to a roomful of scientists.”
Alexis Wendling (2014) was an eight-year flute choir member. She is now a senior in flute performance at Indiana University. She recalls Lenee’s skill of motivating musicians. “Her enthusiasm and love of music inspired me to continue and to even try conducting…I am ever so thankful to have been under her direction.”
Sarah Gierach Kesler (2009), an elementary music teacher, says, “Ms. Stevens instilled a love of music in me. I’m thankful to her for encouraging me to pursue music education in college.”
Kristen Alberty (2013), currently pursuing a career in the U.S. Navy Fleet bands, fondly remembers Lenee’s mantra which encourages her to this day: Flute is not a wimpy instrument! “It comes back to me…and like magic, I always play more confidently!”
Ms. Stevens will miss “the wonderful kids who taught her so much about kindness, friendship, teamwork, and interdependence.” She will also miss the amazing parents who have raised creative and hard-working children and will always remember their unwavering support.
We wish the best to Ms. Stevens as she enters this new phase!