Roldon Rules Prussia

by Walter Pierce

Lafayette flutist studying abroad is catching the Teutonic music world on fire.

Lafayette flutist studying abroad is catching the Teutonic music world on fire. By Walter Pierce

Monday, April 1, 2013

He's living in an apartment the size of a shoe box. His victuals are simple. His disposable income disposed of. And he couldn't be happier.
Lafayette native and aspiring world-class flutist Roldon Brown is in his second semester of a multi-year scholarship at the Frankfurt School of Music & Performing Arts in Germany studying with world-renowned flute master Thaddeus Watson, a position he won in an international competition last summer. And the countless hours of study are already paying off for the 2008 UL Lafayette honor grad: He recently performed with the Bad Nauheim Chamber Philharmonic (Bad Nauheim is a city 30 miles north of Frankfurt), playing with principal players from the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, and he's inked a contract to perform in the Frankfurt Radio Symphony's season-ending concerts in June and July - concerts that will be nationally televised, broadcast on the radio and streamed over the Internet. Not bad, ay?

"Things are really going great for me here in Germany," Roldon tells IND Monthly. "Every morning that I wake up I am grateful for the opportunity to work with my teacher, Thaddeus. He strives to make sure I not only grow in terms of music, but overall in life. He is truly one of the best human beings I have ever met, and inspires me to be greater."

Roldon's story is hopefully familiar to IND readers: He was raised in a single-parent household. His family went without a water heater for nearly a year so his mom could continue to afford his flute lessons. He has a pretty serious stuttering problem, but speaks eloquently through his flute. And he's a pretty darn good tennis player.

Roldon's activism on behalf of stutterers will be expressed in another honor he acquired since moving to Germany late last summer: He will perform a full recital at the 10th World Congress for People Who Stutter this June in the Netherlands.

"I think the performance will be one of the most profound performances that I will have," Roldon says. "I will be presenting a solo recital, next to scientists presenting new findings and the announcements of new teaching and therapy methods. To have the opportunity to perform at this global event is an honor that has humbled me and shown me the responsibility that I have as a performing artist.

"I hope to show through my performance that communication is possible in spite of having a communicative disorder. If one person leaves my performance inspired to find their own personal way to communicate, then I can view my performance as a success."

IND Monthly readers stepped up last year and pitched in to help Roldon afford to pursue his dream. The scholarship covers tuition but not boarding, food and transportation. A PayPal account has been established in Roldon's name to help defray his expenses.

"I feel I have achieved many things in six months, and I hope that financially I can find a way to continue," Roldon say. "Music is a powerful tool that keeps us all united regardless of our differences, and I know this is my purpose in life. I hope things work out, so I am able to continue on this path."