“I’ve been left a legacy by my best friend that’s changed my life”
SHE’d always had a burning ambition to combine the loves in her life on a smallholding where she could teach recorder to adults, run music therapy sessions for children and share her passions for gardening and growing food.
When Rosanna Whitton’s best friend died last year she was left a large amount of money and is now able to make the dream she imagined in retirement come true in her thirties.
As the founder of Flautino (Italian for ‘little recorder’) Rosanna can be hired to perform at weddings, funerals or any other atmospheric occasion as well as teaching an instrument she is quick to defend.
“The recorder has a bad reputation in the UK, mainly, I think, due to its use as an instrument of torture in primary schools. Personally I don’t think the recorder is a good instrument on which to teach small children the rudiments of music – the piano and ukele do it much better,” she said.
“It’s tricky to cover the holes when you have little fingers and the breath control is hard to master. However, from teenage years onwards – of course with some exceptions, there are child geniuses out there – it holds so much potential.”
But Rosanna’s deep relationship with music was on mute during her darkest episodes of bipolar disorder, a mental health condition that affects moods that can swing from one extreme to another.
“There were a lot of years when I was very poorly and I was in and out of hospital. When I was really ill and I was drugged up I couldn’t play as music is such an emotional connection,” she explained.
“Now though I am on really good medication, I’ve just become a foster mum and I’m making all my music dreams happen,” explained Rosanna who also teaches piano to children from the age of three.
“All my life I’ve had “what you play recorder?” and at first I was really sensitive about it but then I thought ‘I’m going to show them”.”
Rosanna studied the iconic instrument at the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Music before playing classic compositions with musicians across Europe. She particularly admires Jacob van Eyck, a blind, Dutch recorder player from the 17th century, Telemann, Bach and a few contemporary Japanese composers who write for the recorder as though it were a shakuhachi or a bamboo flute.
One of her biggest fans was her best friend, Muriel Cavaille – they clicked over their mutual love of mountain walking yet when the Frenchwoman was diagnosed with bowel cancer the end of their friendship came all too quickly and she died almost a year ago aged 40.
“I didn’t know until afterwards that Muriel hadn’t left a will but she’d had this notebook. Her parents were over in England the whole time she was ill and the day after she died her dad showed it to me. When I saw the amount of money she had left me I couldn’t believe it,” recalled the 34-year-old from Lanchester, County Durham.
“Muriel was so supportive and came to every gig I did, I still feel her presence every time I play. When I’m centre stage it’s almost like an alter ego, I’m a more confident version of myself.”
Rosanna is looking forward to two exciting shows this summer, the first is on Sunday, July 10 at featuring a concert at Blanchland Abbey followed by a four-course baroque feast at Lord Crewe Arms nearby.
Then on Sunday, July 24, there will be drinks in the picture gallery at Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, before a short concert of baroque music performed in period costume.
More performances are planned at the smallholding Rosanna intends to buy in Weardale within the next few years, just as Muriel would have wanted.
Rosanna already has an allotment, five hens and a dog but has a long-held vision for a tranquil place offering music therapy, where children can come and learn where their food comes from with a barn transformed into a concert venue.
She added: “Muriel was a wonderful person – super-creative, independent, kind and generous. I miss her every day.
“What she has done for me has totally blown me away and I am determined to use every penny in a creative, wise way in her memory.”
Sunday, July 10, drinks at the Lord Crew Arms, Blanchland, before a concert at Blanchland Abbey and then a four-course baroque feast back at the Lord Crewe Arms. Tickets costing £40 are available by emailing email@example.com
Sunday, July 24, drinks in the picture gallery at Bowes Museum, before a short concert of baroque music in stunning period costume.
Tickets £12 adults, £6 children can be purchased from www.flautinoatbowes.bpt.me