The Museum welcomes professional flutist Steve Kujala for a discussion about the flute and his connection with the instrument. Steve Kujala is well known for mastery of the art of bending notes on the flute!
Flutist, composer and songwriter Steve Kujala has been a stalwart of the Los Angeles music scene since 1976. Born into a musical family in Chicago, IL (his father, Walfrid, was Principal Piccolo of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 48 years and Professor of Flute at Northwestern University), Kujala followed in his father's footsteps and received his formal musical training at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Joseph Mariano. Not content to merely play classical repertoire and pursue an orchestral career, his interest in jazz, pop and ethnic music took him in another direction altogether: West!
Kujala's jazz-rock fusion group, Auracle, was signed to Chrysalis Records (counting among their labelmates rock flutist Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull) and released its critically acclaimed debut album, Glider, in 1978. After a short tour, the band members went their separate ways with Kujala joining up with legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea for 4 records and 4 world tours. One of those recordings, Voyage (ECM Records), was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Kujala's flute playing, composition and songwriting talents soon came to the attention of The Beatles' North American publisher, ATV Music, which led to a record deal with CBS Records. Having created, developed and pioneered a unique note bending technique on the flute that Kujala calls the "Fretless-Flute" technique, his CBS Records debut album, Fresh Flute, showcased this technique on a song called "Fretless Flute Song."
Several more solo CDs followed along with growing demand for Kujala's flute playing that has yielded nearly 600 movie soundtrack appearances; countless TV show appearances, records and jingles; and live performances and a staff writing position with the Killer Tracks production music library. One of his Killer Tracks songs is "Family and Friends," which has been used as the signature tune for the Lexus "December to Remember" Annual Holiday Campaign every year since 1999.
Kujala has played on over two dozen hit Broadway shows at the Pantages Theatre, most notably The Lion King, for which he played no less than 14 different ethnic flutes. He was also Principal Piccolo with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra for 27 years. Steve Kujala has been a Yamaha Performing Artist since 1980.