Stephanie Rea Pushes Classical Boundaries with Unconventional Recital “The Next Best Thing”

by Madonna

Stephanie Rea, an esteemed flutist and Murray State University Professor, is poised to defy classical norms with an unorthodox musical narrative. Her upcoming solo recital, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 26, at MSU’s Performing Arts Hall, promises an evening of flute artistry infused with captivating storytelling, punctuated by an unexpected dose of audacity.

Promoted as a blend of “TED Talk with flute and the f-word,” Rea’s performance is set to divulge her deep-rooted connection to the flute, her appreciation for music theory, and her penchant for storytelling, all while adding a dash of spicy flavor to the proceedings.


Heralded as “a rising star” and “a name to be remembered” by Flutist Quarterly, Dr. Rea doesn’t shy away from forewarning that her presentation contains mature language.


Dubbed “The Next Best Thing,” this solo venture unfurls as a one-woman theatrical odyssey. The narrative’s genesis stems from Rea’s acknowledgment that the traditional exposition of music theory can sometimes fall into the realms of tedium. In response, she opted for a more engaging approach – a five-act structure weaved with autobiographical anecdotes, interwoven flute interludes, and subtle threads of music theory intricately woven into the fabric of her storytelling.


Rea emphasizes, “The stories are the real star of the show.”

Act I catapults the audience into Rea’s pivotal relocation to Murray in 2000, during which her engagement dissolved abruptly. Amidst the emotional whirlwind, she discovered solace in the soothing voices on WKMS-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate. Her auditory refuge on programs like “Beyond the Edge” with Tracy Ross and the mellifluous narrations of Bob Edwards, among others, led her to a profound connection with the radio personalities.

As she ventured deeper into the auditory realm, Rea’s admiration extended to NPR’s “This American Life” and its producer Ira Glass. Glass’s assertion that “Special people with special stories are everywhere” resonated deeply, prompting her to consider her own unique journey through the lens of storytelling.

Rea’s initiative to share her narrative with a wider audience led her to contemplate submitting her tale to “This American Life.” The recital incorporates visual elements, including projected images of Ira Glass and other key figures in her story. Alongside her engaging narrative, Rea masterfully showcases her flute prowess, featuring an eclectic repertoire that includes pieces as charming as the subject of her admiration, Ira Glass.

The musical voyage extends back to Rea’s fourth-grade reminiscences, where bicycle adventures culminated in an experience that set the stage for her lifelong relationship with dentists – a compelling narrative thread that she presents with a blend of ardor and humor.

As her recital unfurls, Rea’s unwavering passion, vivid storytelling, and resonant flute melodies converge to create an unforgettable experience. The presentation pays tribute to WKMS-FM by encouraging the audience to contribute donations, aligning with the NPR affiliate’s Donor Appreciation Month.

In a climactic crescendo, Stephanie Rea’s recital subverts conventions, demonstrating that a classical instrument can harmoniously coexist with audacious storytelling. This fusion of sound, narrative, and unapologetic expression cements Rea’s status as an artist who dares to redefine the boundaries of classical performance.


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