"Sure, she can breathe beautiful, delicate melodies through her instrument—but she can also speak into it, sing, hum, or beatbox through it, clatter its keys, bend its pitches, make its melodies vibrate, flutter, shimmer, and soar."
- Maggie Molloy, Second Inversion
Listen to this episode of North West Focus Stories to hear about my background, my relationship to classical music, how I picked the flute despite all odds, how I love and am obsessed with taiko drumming, and how all of this effects the work I do today.
A freelance flutist, improviser, and composer in the Seattle area, Leanna Keith delights in creating sound experiences that make audiences laugh, cry, and say: “I didn’t know the flute could do that!” She actively performs around the country in concert halls, bars, cafes, and classrooms - bringing along a menagerie of flutes that include her bass flute, alto flute, dizi, and shinobue - as well as a variety of electronics. Sometimes she creates soaring melodies, and other times she beatboxes and vocalizes. She also is dedicated to playing music by composers who are still living, and advocates for the usage of music as social activism. She currently performs with the vocal/flute duo Stack Effect with vocalist Kaley Lane Eaton, Keith/Larson Duo with guitarist Zachary Larson, Crows at a Crosswalk with bouzouki player Daniel Husser, Kin of the Moon, and the Japanese drumming ensemble Dekoboko Taiko. She is also the flute instructor for Cornish College of the Arts.
Leanna has been invited to perform as soloist and with chamber ensembles in a wide variety of conferences and festivals including: NW New Works Festival 2019 at On The Boards, the 1st and 2nd Canadian Flute Convention, Omaha Under the Radar in 2014 and 2019, 2015 Oscillations Concert Series, Oh My Ears! Festival in 2016 and 2018, Electronic Music Midwest 2017, 2017 and 2018 National Flute Association Convention, the 2018 World Flute Festival in Mendoza, Argentina, and NUMUS Northwest 2018. In addition to her performance experience, she has presented her research at universities throughout the country and abroad. She also completed a residency at Avaloch Farm Music Institute in 2017.
Leanna is currently a co-director of the chamber music ensemble Kin of the Moon, with violist/improviser Heather Bentley and composer/vocalist Kaley Lane Eaton. Kin of the Moon is an improvisation-centric, technology-friendly chamber music series incubated in Seattle's rich musical scene. The series explores sonic rituals, promotes cross-pollination of genres, emphasizes the communicative power of specific performance locales, and celebrates the creativity that multiplies itself through the collaboration of performers and composers.
In April of 2015, Leanna published Journey to the East, through ALRY Publications, transcribing traditional Chinese bamboo flute music for modern performance. She has presented her research on dizi and Chinese traditional music to colleagues and students at the 1st Canadian Flute Convention, the University of Nebraska, and the University of South Dakota.
In 2016 Ms. Keith earned her Master of Music degree in Flute Performance at the University of Washington in Seattle with Donna Shin. Her undergraduate Bachelor of Music degree in flute performance was under the tutelage of Dr. Christine Erlander Beard at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with whom she had studied since 2008. Her studies in orchestral repertoire continued with Erica Peel of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and with Zart Dombourian-Eby of the Seattle Symphony. In addition to her Western classical flute training, Ms. Keith also studied the Chinese Dizi with flutist Jianxun Xia, and the Japanese Shinobue with flutist Kaoru Watanabe. Leanna was a Teaching Artist with the Seattle Symphony from 2017-2018. She served as webmaster for the Seattle Flute Society from 2016-2018.