Paula Robison burst onto the international music scene in 1966 when she won First Prize at the Geneva Competition, the first American ever to receive this honor. She joined the roster of the newly-formed Young Concert Artists and embarked on a groundbreaking, world-traveling career as a flute soloist, a career which continues to be vibrant to this day. She has commissioned works for flute and orchestra by Leon Kirchner, Toru Takemitsu, Oliver Knussen, Robert Beaser, and Kenneth Frazelle, premiered music written for her by Lowell Liebermann and Michael Tilson Thomas, performed Leonard Bernstein’s “Hålil” in Vienna and Carl Nielsen’s Concerto in Copenhagen, and presented a rich spectrum of music from Mozart Concerti to Brazilian Samba in her many appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Paula Robison was a founding Artist Member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing with them for twenty seasons. During the same time she was co-director with Scott Nickrenz of the famed Noontime Concerts at the Spoleto Festivals, presenting many great artists early in their careers. For her contributions to American and Italian cultural life she was awarded the Adelaide Ristori Prize, the Premio Pegaso, and Honorary Citizen for Life: Charleston, South Carolina.
Paula Robison has recorded for Vanguard Classics, Sony Classical, CBS Masterworks, Mode (the complete Berio Sequenzas, awarded the Premio del Disco Amadeus 2008, and Lei Liang’s “In Praise of Shadows”), New World Records, King Records, Musical Heritage Society, and Bridge Recordings (her Marlboro Festival performance of Schubert’s Introduction and Variations with Rudolf Serkin, named American Record Guide’s Best Recording of the Year). Her books on the art of flute playing are published by Universal Edition, Schott, European-American Music, G. Schirmer, and Theodore Presser. In 2006 she founded Pergola Recordings, an independent label. Recently released, a critically acclaimed album of live performances including the World Premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s Sonata with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Prokofiev Sonata with pianist Yefim Bronfman.
One of Paula Robison’s favorite continuing projects is “With Art”: collaborations with visual artists in unusual spaces. In the fall of 2005, Ms. Robison–as Artist-in-Residence at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum–initiated “Variations on a Theme”, a collaborative project with conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, curator Pieranna Cavalchini, and the music of Mozart. Other “With Art” projects have included Luciano Berio’s “Sequenza I” with Italian Art from the 1950s at PS 1 in New York, “Places of the Spirit” with painter Jim Schantz, Toru Takemitsu’s “Itinerant” at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Impressionist music in the Renoir Gallery of the Clark Museum, Vivaldi in the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and a battle with Tim Hawkinson’s “ÜberOrgan” at MASS MoCA.
Although Ms Robison was thrown out of her high school drama club for breaking character and clowning in the middle of a gothic tragedy, through the years her love of theater never left her, especially Commedia dell’Arte and specifically Arnold Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire”. In 2007 she made a new English performance version of the “Pierrot” texts, using both the original Albert Giraud poems and Otto Erich Hartleben’s translations, and took the speaking part for two performances at the Barge in New York City. On December 31st 2009, in celebration of the full moon, the New Year, and a lunar project by Gardner Museum Artist-in-Residence Taro Shinoda, she was again the “Sprecherin” in a special midnight performance of Schoenberg’s expressionist masterpiece. Critically acclaimed 2012 Sprechstimme performances have included performances at Calderwood Hall in Boston, MA, with The New World Symphony at the New World Center, and with counter)induction in New York. In November-December of 2012 she joins Argento New Music Project for a two week celebration of the 100th Anniversary of “Pierrot Lunaire” at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York City.
Paula Robison has taught at the Juilliard School and given classes all over the world. She now occupies the Donna Hieken Flute Chair at New England Conservatory and is happy to be defining her own distinctive style of teaching as she passes on the great legacies of her teachers, flutists Marcel Moyse and Julius Baker.