Road Warriors: Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith is the Principal Flutist for the Cleveland Orchestra.

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KAI RYSSDAL: Our series "Road Warriors" that's been running this summer has focused mostly on the soundtracks that business travelers use to get them through all the depressing parts of life away from home. Today, from producer Michael Raphael, what someone who's work travel is music listens to.


JOSHUA SMITH: I'm Joshua Smith. I'm the principal flutist of the Cleveland Orchestra, and when I'm traveling either with the orchestra or on my own I find myself plugging into my iPod to listen to "Nature," a 1987 field recording by Bernie Krause.

I will -- if I have to -- spend some time on an iPod studying pieces that I'm about to play. I do a lot of work that way. But I think because of that I feel a need to escape from music in general in order to relax.

You sort of start out with the sensation that you're sitting in the middle of a field. You hear birds chirping, crickets churring, pods lapping, and there's a gradual flow towards a rain storm starting. You hear thunder in the background. You hear a dog barking, rooster crowing.

Actually it has an arc that is essentially very musical. But what I like about it the most is that I don't necessarily feel like I have to pay attention to it. I can just kind of check out and hear it in the background and that's kind of what I'm looking for.

We're on tour I think a total of 15 or 16 weeks a year, playing either in Europe ... this fall we're going to Asia. And if I'm not in the orchestra I can be also traveling for chamber music or also solo appearances. So there's a pretty good chunk of the year where I'm on the road.

The entire orchestra can be on a plane and -- we don't necessarily have to choose to travel with the group but we often do -- and I know a lot of these people really well and many of them are great friends, and so there are really great things about that, but there are also times when you don't want to hear the person behind you talking about what he had for breakfast, or the person next to you talking about how uncomfortable the seat is. Because, yeah it is; it's uncomfortable for me to.

There is sort of an aspect of needing to escape, because essentially we're around each other pretty constantly. We work together. We play together. We travel together. So having little moments where you can escape is important I think.

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