Alumni News: Paula Gudmundson Awarded $25,000 McKnight Fellowship

School of Music Alumna Paula Gudmundson poses with her flute in front of a bridge

The School of Music is honored to announce that alumna Paula Gudmundson has been named a 2022-23 recipient of the prestigious $25,000 McKnight Fellowship. The fellowship is supported by the McKnight Foundation and administered by the MacPhail Center for Music

In addition to serving as Associate Professor of Flute and Music Department Head at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Gudmundson has performed at numerous music festivals and events, including conferences of the College Music Society, National Flute Association conventions, the International Flute Festival of Costa Rica, La Côte Flûte Festival, and was selected as a Minnesota Public Radio Class Notes Artist. Recordings include La Flauta of Buenos Aires (2012), Breaking Waves (2019), and Melodies of the Forest (2022). 

Gudmundson graduated with a flute performance DMA in 2012. She was a member of Immanuel Davis’ studio. 

This is the 26th year that MacPhail Center for Music has administered the McKnight Fellowship for Musicians, a component of the McKnight Artists Fellowships Program. Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive, the McKnight Foundation’s arts and culture program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Gudmundson was selected as one of the four fellowship recipients out of a pool of 82 applicants. 

“I am so honored to be selected for this award. I was in complete shock when they called to tell me I had won, the tears kind of just flowed, because really I performed pieces that were so important to me and this journey,” Gudmundson reflected. “As a Black Latina with Icelandic heritage my work focuses on centering around collaboration, community engagement and bringing voice to the absent narratives in the arts. This includes creating recordings, editions, commissions, and collaborations which push our field beyond the concert stage. I also want to celebrate every connection I can create through my programs.”

The audition program Gudmundson selected included works from Icelandic composer Berglind Tómasdóttir, the co-premier of Valerie Coleman's Amazonia in her most recent CD Melodies of the Forest (2022), and video and audio recording works by Black composers made possible by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Gudmundson credits her studies with Immanuel Davis as a success factor in her career. “As Department Head and Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Minnesota Duluth I am so thankful for my time at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and my study with Immanuel Davis who is an amazing mentor and friend,” she said. “He really inspired me to do the things that are important to me and really made me curious about so many things. This instilled curiosity is what I am most thankful for during my time at the University of Minnesota.”

Davis remembers Gudmunson as an outstanding student. "When Paula came to the U for her DMA, she was already a full-fledged professional flutist, but was still seeking to deepen her knowledge of flute performance and pedagogy and was eager to explore everything I had to offer,” Davis remarked. “Since the completion of her DMA, Paula has demonstrated that she is a complete artist/scholar, and fast becoming a leader in the field. She is doing everything a young artist should be doing today: recording, finding new repertoire, collaborating, teaching, and now Director of the Music Department at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. I am so happy that Paula's work has been recognized by the McKnight Foundation and am excited to see all that Paula will continue to accomplish in her future."

One of Gudmundson’s favorite artistic inspirations is a quote from flutist Nicole Mitchell: 

It's our ability to imagine new worlds that we want to live in that will get humanity closer to manifesting positive change. Music and art are key to sparking inspiration in human consciousness. 

Gudmundson explained why the quote touched her when applying for the fellowship. “They asked me about this quote,which I put in my artist statement. I explained to them I got to hear Nicole Mitchell speak at a National Flute Association Convention and this quote really spoke to me in the Summer of 2020. Since then I have been on this journey to really figure out what I needed to say through music, the music I perform and how music could meet this moment in time. What can it say about who we are, who we want to be, and what is important to me.”

To read more about the MacPhail Center for Music, visit their website. More information about the McKnight Fellowship, and how to apply can be found on this website.

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