Rhonda Larson says she was born wanting to play the flute—where that desire came from remains a mystery to her. It was finally at age 10 that Rhonda first picked up a flute, a journey that has taken her to the farthest reaches of the world. Her ‘practice room’ was a high mountain ridge outside her family home in Bozeman, Montana, where the sky is endless and the breathtaking mountains cut through your soul. It is not difficult, then, to understand that the depths of Rhonda’s music comes from a place in her heart that celebrates the beauty of the human spirit, found most alive in nature.
In addition to learning from stellar teachers in Montana, Rhonda gathered further education from live Public Radio broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic, which she could only listen to from one small corner of her parents’ bedroom–the only location in her entire house where the FM broadcast could be audibly tuned in. There she sat, huddled up, listening to the most beautiful music she had yet heard.Rhonda has always been one to follow her own path, that road less traveled–it is perhaps an expected course from any progeny of the wild west. An early indication of Rhonda’s unorthodox trail was her declining the invitation to attend Juilliard. Instead, she chose to remain in the inspirational, natural surroundings of the west and study at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.
In her final year there, she won the prestigious National Flute Association’s Young Artist Competition, which included a Carnegie Hall recital debut. Not only is she to date the youngest winner in the history of the competition, but the year she won, the second place winner happened to be a student from Juilliard. Everyone said of Rhonda, “Who is this girl? Where did she come from?”
Devouring the classical flute repertoire, Rhonda was always in search of new musical challenges. In a New York Flute Club interview, she said, “I began to see that music has a larger role for humanity: that it can truly speak to the shared expressions of our human souls.” This evolving philosophical foundation of her music was about to be played out in the next step of her musical journey….
In her final month of university in Moscow, Idaho, Rhonda was discovered by Paul Winter, who immediately invited her to join the Paul Winter Consort. Ironically, her first tour with them was to Moscow, Russia. Rhonda launched on a non-stop touring and recording career with this innovative group.
After eight years with the Consort and a newly-won Grammy Award, Rhonda set out on her own to put to work the breadth of learning from her time with the Consort. She knew only one thing for sure: her music could no longer be confined to only one genre. She began composing tailor-made music suited to her technical prowess, and learning ethnic flutes from around the world while immersing herself in the archives of indigenous folk music.
Rhonda formed her band, Ventus, established her own music publishing company, Wood Nymph Music, and continues performing and teaching masterclasses across the globe. She conducts a weeklong masterclass every two years near her second home in Italy. Rhonda performed in South Africa’s Parliament of the World’s Religionswhere she shared the stage with such luminaries as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously—she performed with the same gusto at NBC’s finale broadcast of Survivor at Madison Square Garden, as seen by over 40 million viewers.
Rhonda has a discography of over 19 commercial recordings from label/distributors such as Windham Hill and American Gramaphone, among others. She has recorded a variety of flute music for the CBS television series, “Survivor” and “The Restaurant”, including the Live CBS finale episode of “Survivor” from Madison Square Garden’s, seen by over 40 million viewers. Her most recent engagements include performances in Minsk, Belarus with her band, Ventus, with teaching engagements and a solo performance at the Music Conservatory in Mogilev, followed by one week throughout Latvia, offering her expertise to professional woodwind instructors and students alike. In 2014, Rhonda Larson & Ventus performed throughout China for 33 concerts over a period of nine weeks.
Rhonda has two solo recordings, Free as a Bird, and Distant Mirrors. The latter is an eclectic musical reflection on world cultures and ancient traditions, and was listed in the top ten of the “25 Essential CD’s” nationally syndicated Public Radio program, Echoes. Rhonda is featured in “Flute Stories–101 Inspirational Stories from the World’s Best Flute Players”, Windplayers publication. Ms. Larson has served on the Board of Directors for the National Flute Association, and is a frequent writing contributor to The Instrumentalist/Flute Talk magazine. Rhonda currently serves on the Board of Directors for the World Flute Society.
Rhonda’s unique music studio is in an octagonal 3-story tower in their home in Southwestern Connecticut. They also live part-time at their second home in the Lazio region of Italy.