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Catherine Payne

  • Flute
Continuing Education
  • Flute
Catherine Payne headshot


Courses Taught

Applied Lessons

Flute Class


BM, New England Conservatory

BA, Tufts University


San Francisco Symphony, Solo Piccolo (1996–Present)

Boston Symphony, Acting 2nd Flute (1993–1995)

What an extraordinary musician Payne is -- how sensitive, how subtle, how technically commanding…the tone she produced was cool and bright in the best manner, but it was full- bodied, too, and tinged with a wealth of colors that kept shifting kaleidoscopically. Just to watch Payne's fingers fly across that tiny piece of wood and to hear those exquisitely placed high notes emerge with utmost precision was a thrill in itself.”

— San Francisco Chronicle


What is your hometown?

West Hartford, CT

What is your favorite recording?

Impossible to choose, but I love listening to singers, and right now one of my favorites is Sarah Vaughan Live at Mister Kelly's.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Fiction, food, and the Pacific Ocean.

Who were your major teachers?

Leone Buyse, Lois Schaefer, and Tom Nyfenger.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

"Sing through your instrument. Always be a soloist and sell it to the audience!"

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“Where is this phrase going?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Spending a summer playing with the National Repertory Orchestra in Colorado.

What was a turning point in your career?

When the Boston Symphony called me to work with them after the Personnel Manager had gone through their entire flute sub list and no one else was available.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I'd be trying to make it on Broadway.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Mozart, Shostakovich, and Cole Porter.

What are your most important collaborations?

Michael Tilson Thomas and my amazing colleagues in the San Francisco Symphony.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, San Francisco Symphony (SFS Media)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, San Francisco Symphony (SFS Media)

The Mahler Project, San Francisco Symphony (SFS Media)

What is your unrealized project?

To record the Vivaldi concerti. To sing in a jazz club with my trio (which is imaginary at this point).