Genevieve Pastor-Cohen, flute, piccolo, et al.
“Clarinet, saxophone, pennywhistle, pan pipes, sopranino recorder, soprano recorder, alto recorder, tenor recorder, piccolo, C-flute and alto flute. Whew! That’s 11 instruments that Genevieve plays. How did this happen!? “
Well, when I was little, my brother was taking clarinet lessons and I would play along with his rhythms”— on a typewriter! A musician was born. Genevieve then played piano and, in school, asked to play trombone or tuba. “The music teacher looked at me and said, ‘Here’s a flute. Try that.’ My parents hated it so I decided to keep on playing!”
Genevieve played flute in junior and high school orchestras. With the help of an All-City Orchestra scholarship, she was able to take flute lessons. The summer after she graduated from Lowell High School in San Francisco, the school orchestra went on a trip to Japan. “I played percussion since I wasn’t really in the orchestra anymore.” Okay, make that 12 instruments.
Over the years, Genevieve studied flute with Patricia Fawcett of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and both Paul Renzi and Lloyd Gowan, both with the San Francisco Symphony. In college, Genevieve first was a music major, then switched to business “for practical reasons.” She didn’t play for a year, but soon picked it up again, mainly playing in chamber orchestras. In fact, she met her husband, Josh Cohen, at a chamber music workshop. “He plays violin and everything with a string on it.” She credits chamber experiences with teaching a lot about ensemble, unity and intonation. With Josh, she then also played with Bay Area musical theaters, which led to the wide array of instruments she now plays.
Genevieve’s current job is Emergency Services Manager for the City of Richmond Fire Department, where she does disaster planning, training and exercises for City staff and community. Intense work. “Music is my avocation. Music gives me balance. I feel like I’m on a mental vacation when I play.”
She now plays (flutes) with Holy Names Orchestra, gigs with smaller ensembles and chamber groups and, of course, with Prometheus. “I enjoy the innovative selections that really challenge us. We really go beyond the standards and I enjoy that.” We can’t wait to play something with a pennywhistle!
~ Joyce Vollmer