Last month, as most of his fellow MIT freshmen were recovering from their first college midterms, flutist Daniel Stein was quietly preparing for another milestone: a solo recital in Carnegie Hall.
The performance, which took place in Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall on Nov. 5, was part of a National Alliance for Excellence award, for which Stein applied after his senior year at Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, Fla. He was chosen by the organization as a winner in both the academic and performing arts categories, and was offered a scholarship and the opportunity to give a 25-minute performance at Weill in a recital shared with two other young musicians.
Stein's Carnegie Hall program consisted of three difficult pieces from the flute repertoire: "Chant de Linos" by Andre Jolivet, "Canzone" by Samuel Barber and "Grand Polonaise" by Theobald Boehm. Of his performance, he said it was a wonderful opportunity to share his music with family and friends, many of whom traveled from across the country to attend. "The most important thing about the performance, or any performance--and this may seem a little simplistic--was that I had fun," he said.
Stein is no stranger to winning competitions. He was named as one of the 20 members of USA Today's 15th annual All-USA High School Academic First Team based on his musical accomplishments. He also won first prize at the National Flute Association High School Soloist Competition last year, and has participated in Boston University Tanglewood Institute's Young Artists Orchestra program for the past four summers. "The reason I've done so many competitions is that I love the challenge of learning a program of music, and [competitions] are often simply the best way to have the opportunity to perform," he said.
A native of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Stein began taking private flute lessons when he was eight and said he tries to practice for at least two hours a day. He now studies with Marianne Gedigian and Linda Toote, both of whom perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In Florida, Stein and his mother drove for more than an hour each way to his weekly flute lessons in Miami.
Stein said he chose to attend MIT because of its strong music program and excellent faculty and because of its location in Boston, which "is wonderful for all of the arts," he noted. "Of course, I've always liked the sciences especially, along with most of the humanities. I love being challenged, for which MIT is rather infamous."
Stein, who is co-principal flutist in the MIT Symphony Orchestra and a member of the MIT Chamber Music Society, said he's interested in pursuing a music degree at MIT and is unsure of what else he might major in. Though he doesn't know if his Carnegie Hall performance will lead to a career in music, he's certain that music will always remain a part of his life.
"I play music because it's endlessly challenging in itself and a beautiful way to directly communicate with others," he said. "No piece is ever finished being learned or personalized, really, and life experiences bring constant revelation to my playing."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 19, 2001.