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Meet Alex Mack and Laura Strickland of SoSco Flute and Guitar Duo in Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Mack and Laura Strickland.

After earning music degrees at several world-renowned music schools, we met while teaching private music lessons at a south Scottsdale studio. On a whim, Laura suggested we try out some music to see if the flute and guitar would blend. Needless to say, after over four years, hundreds of performances, two consecutive “Best of the Valley” awards, a nomination for the Governor’s Arts Award and countless satisfied audience members and clients; that “whim” has worked itself into one of Arizona’s most unique and successful musical ensembles.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We have been very fortunate in our musical journey together. We come from different stylistic backgrounds, and certainly, our instruments and how they are played couldn’t be any less alike. Perhaps, that could lead to conflict or frustration, but for us, we’ve found that it brings out the best in both of us. Both of us are striving to turn our personal weaknesses or areas of unfamiliarity into strengths and the more we have worked together, the easier that has become. So much of what we do is unspoken, but by now, we have developed a shared body language in our performance which is something that all musicians strive for. We aren’t perfect and some days are better than others, but the challenges that face us in each performance are what keeps us on our toes and excited for the next opportunity to grow and at the same time delight our audiences.

SoSco Flute and Guitar Duo – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We specialize in creating sophisticated and masterful musical performances whether they are for concerts, weddings, background music or parties or other special events.

One thing that sets us apart from other classically trained duos and small ensembles is that we have created shows where we explain to audiences the background of the music we are about to play to give them a context. We share details of the composer, what the music was written for, fun facts and more that help listeners develop a deeper understanding of what they’re listening to. This helps them experience the music with new depth and go home with new insights into the music they’ve known for years or just been introduced to.

With this format, audience members get to see more of our personalities as well as get breaks between songs, so the concerts don’t feel too long. We have had great success playing a variety of these types of shows including jazz, Broadway tunes/movie music, Celtic music, love songs, and classical music. Additionally, since flute and guitar is a rather uncommon ensemble, there is a lack of music written or arranged for this combination. But, we have been drawn to pursuing this combination because it creates a blend that offers a fullness and dynamism that many more traditional string or wind ensembles cannot replicate. As a less common ensemble, we have worked hard over the last few years to personally arrange almost every piece of music and song we play.

By now, we have hundreds of songs and classical works in our repertoire and can comfortably play up to four hours of unrepeated music. Since we do all of our own arrangements, we have created a totally unique repertoire built on our particular strengths as musicians. Our music truly reflects our individual personalities and musicianship. We take great pride in the fact that we have developed such a large, unique repertoire that displays our versatility, experience and our shared musical tastes with our audiences.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
We measure success in the connection we have with audiences. What is most gratifying is hearing from an audience member that a particular song helped to improve what was otherwise a bad day, brought back fond memories because it was a personal favorite or that they never imagined flute and guitar sounding so good together. We often hear comments like, “We can feel the music coming from your hearts” and “It’s like we hear the words coming out of your instruments.”

As a musician, these are the kinds of comments that tell us we’re reaching our audiences at the kind of level we’re striving for. Another measure of success is where we’re being asked to play and how frequently. After playing in our duo for only a few years, we’re already booking repeat performances at some of the Valley’s and state’s finest venues and institutions including Arizona Biltmore, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Desert Botanical Gardens, Troon North Golf Club, Mayo Clinic, Tempe Center for the Arts, Verde River Golf & Social Club at Trilogy at Verde River, Westin Kierland, Wigwam Resort and many more. Of course, as professional musicians, good pay and awards are nice, but most importantly, we do this because we love to perform with each other and for an audience that appreciates what we offer.

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Image Credit:

Katrina Amburgey, Rachael Koscica, Heather Kadar, Richard Simonsen, Lindsay McLean, Kayla Fisher

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