Canvas Rebel Features Carmen Maret

In their latest piece, Canvas Rebel features Carmen Maret, her insights on artistry, owning a small business, and maintaining a creative mission.

She discusses the moment she realized she wanted to pursue being a flutist, her role in the Folias Duo, and the mission that drives her creativity.

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CanvasRebel Magazine

Avatar photoSTORIES & INSIGHTS APRIL 4, 2024

Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Carmen Maret. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.

Hi Carmen, thanks for joining us today. Did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative or artistic career? When did you first know?

I remember the day I participated in the local solo and ensemble festival in Boise, Idaho. At just 12 years old and without a flute teacher, I spent numerous hours practicing and listening to Bizet and Tchaikovsky in my bedroom. During the festival, I performed a solo piece, Bizet’s Minuet. To my surprise, the judge commended my performance, saying it was one of the best he’d ever heard. I was surprised because I didn’t think my performance was anything exceptional. That moment cemented my desire to pursue a professional music career. It felt as if music had chosen me, a sentiment that still resonates with me today in my life as a performer.

Carmen, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?

As an artist, I express my identity through the flute and guitar duo, Folias Duo, a collaboration with my husband and guitarist, Andrew Bergeron.

As musicians and educators, we believe in sharing music to enhance our lives and promote harmony within ourselves and the environment. Our journey has taken us across the United States, Europe, Chile, and Argentina, weaving music into the stories of the land and the people we’ve encountered. It’s been an incredible adventure to live and work together as both artists and a married couple since 2003. Our latest album, “Heartdance,” which celebrates our 20th anniversary, is now available on our own label, Folias Music.

Folias Duo’s story began in the fall of 2002 at Michigan State University, where Andrew and I met as graduate students. Our first meeting was very quiet. We sat together on my futon and listened to Andrew’s compositions. Afterward, we played the tango charts I had brought with me from my years of learning to play and dance the tango in Kansas City, MO, where I did my undergraduate studies.

As we formed our duo, the process was organic from the beginning. Our rehearsals just seemed to work. In our first few years, we had a reciprocal process. We played Andrew’s compositions and songs, learning to adapt them for flute and guitar, and we also played the tango music I wanted to perform for dancers.

Only a few weeks after we met, we landed a gig at a Cuban restaurant in Lansing, MI. Suddenly, we had a reason to keep playing and developing new music every week. Michigan State University was also a welcoming place for new music. We challenged ourselves to learn and perform newly written pieces for graduate composition recitals. We had a lot to chew on back then, but it taught us a lot about imagining what was possible for our instruments.

The Flute and Guitar

The flute and guitar combination is an untapped genre, unlike the string quartet genre, which has volumes of published music. The possibilities for our duo combination are vast and unexplored, which excites us.

In the summer of 2003, we embarked on our first performance tour in the West. We played in small halls, libraries, and churches, camping all the way to Oregon and back. Now, some twenty years later, many want to know how we still manage to book our own tours, write all the music, and camp along the way without killing each other!

We both appreciate being outside and enjoy the challenge of not taking things like temperature-controlled environments, a consistent power source, independent transportation, relative safety, and health for granted. Consciously placing ourselves every night in a tent on the ground in unfamiliar environments helps us see things about ourselves that we wouldn’t see in ordinary (truly privileged) day-to-day reality. Laying our heads on the ground is a gold mine for creativity! It also makes us nicer and more understanding humans.

Eventually, our touring goals became loftier, and we booked tours in Europe, Argentina, and Chile. Our ultimate tour was probably the road trip we took in 2011 when we drove from Michigan to Fairbanks, Alaska, and played concerts all the way through the US and Canada. That’s some crazy mileage. We just laugh now when people ask how we can stand to drive all the way through Nebraska!

Current Album Release – Heartdance (May 2023)

For three years, we’ve had the idea for an album called “Heartdance,” ever since Andrew wrote a set of pieces based on the life cycle of the dragonfly. Upon our first listen to the MIDI realization of the “Dragonfly” pieces, we both knew that they were special, music that would be both appealing and beautiful for an audience to listen to, but also very engaging and challenging for us as players. The four movements, “Aquatic,” “Molting,” “Flying,” and “Heartdance,” are compositions that will age well. We know we can perform, study, and grow with them for years to come, making them a set of dream pieces for classical musicians.

The other compositions on the “Heartdance” album were developed during the 40+ live streams we’ve presented since the pandemic. For two years, we had an urgent deadline to write and present our own music twice a month, an unexpected gift for us as composer performers.

Our music is an anomaly. We don’t play the classics of European music, but we love to combine techniques of tonal and atonal music theory, as I do in my piece “Meadow Dream,” which was inspired by the music of pianist and composer Alexander Scriabin. We aren’t folk musicians; however, most of our music is inspired in some way by folkloric music, as I do with my piece “Looking Glass,” inspired by Argentine music, or the two African flute (tambin) pieces, “Dance of the Foxes” and “Forgotten Peach Blossoms,” which were adventurous undertakings by Andrew, his first compositions for this unique three-holed flute from Guinea. It would be a stretch to call us jazz musicians, but we venture into descriptive, improvisatory music in an odd meter (?) in the piece “Nighthawk,” a piece we wrote together about an experience we had with a pair of nighthawks.

We recorded the Heartdance album at Sono Luminus Studios in Boyce, Virginia, with two other collaborators: producer Dan Merceruio and engineer Daniel Shores. We recorded our previous two Folias Music releases (“Dreaming to Live” and “Delicate Omens”) with Merceruio and Shores, and we’re so grateful as independent artists to have a team we can trust with our music. I would call Daniel Shores and Dan Merceruio a “ninja team,” probably one of the best for classical recording. Their immersive audio/production work with the Iceland Symphony and Icelandic composers is some of the most inspiring and innovative stuff out there for “classical” music right now.

What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?

I recently identified a mission in my creative journey: to continuously improve.

In the fall of 2020, I watched Soviet-born Israeli-American pianist Yefim Bronfman’s live-stream performance for the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo. I have always been astounded by the depth of his understanding and commitment to internalizing piano music, but this time, I was floored by an interview question after the performance. The interviewer asked Bronfman something like, “How does it feel to have accomplished everything you’ve done?” Bronfman, without a smile, simply said, “I don’t think I’ve accomplished very much,” with a long, uncomfortable pause. He continued, “You’ve got to understand, my standards keep going up.”

This moment changed my life! To hear such a deep artist redirect the praise, live and uncut, was so refreshing and inspiring. Since then, my purpose as a musician and my ability to believe in the process of improving my skills went into a new focus.

Are there any books, videos or other content that you feel have meaningfully impacted your thinking?

Since 2016, I’ve enjoyed teaching an Intro to Music Business class at Grand Rapids Community College. It’s been rewarding to learn alongside students who are forging their own paths in the music industry. The two most beneficial books I’ve utilized in this class are Mark Rabideau’s “Creating the Revolutionary Artist: Entrepreneurship for the 21st-Century Musician” and Ari Herstand’s “How To Make It In the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician”. These books offer not only practical advice and real-world tips, but they also provoke deeper questions such as “why do you want to do music?” and “what does making it mean?” Exploring these questions has been instrumental in guiding us towards a productive path and overcoming mindset hurdles.

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