Heidi L. Morning of the Laboratory’s Space Electronics and Signal Processing group sits back in her chair, closes her eyes and clears her mind of the day’s busy events, most of which involved science. But that part of her life is temporarily left behind—she is a musician first, up on stage preparing to join her bandmates in crafting some toe-tapping music for an excited audience.
“I’ve always been drawn to making music,” Heidi muses. “I’ve been playing the flute since I was in sixth grade—I chose the flute because it was the smallest instrument I could hold! What I learned real fast, though, is that it takes as much air to play a flute as it does to play a tuba. Breath control is no easy task, regardless of the instrument’s size.”
Rediscovering a love of music
Heidi took as much time as possible to learn about music, playing the flute through middle and high school. Once she graduated, however, she dedicated herself to learning electrical engineering, and once she graduated from college she joined the Laboratory. This new job enabled Heidi to have more time and financial resources to resume her interest in playing the flute.
“I always planned to go back to music—it was always at the back of my mind,” says Heidi. “As I was preparing to move to New Mexico, I searched for local groups on the internet and was excited to find the Community Winds.”
Based in Los Alamos, the Community Winds is an ensemble made up of amateur and professional musicians of all ages and backgrounds, from middle and high school students to retirees in the area.
“I’ve been performing with the Community Winds for about five years,” recalls Heidi. “What I really like about the group is that it is always open to musicians in Los Alamos and the surrounding communities. There are no auditions—everyone is welcome to make music.”
Another group that Heidi participates in is the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra. Founded in 1945 (when it was called the Los Alamos Civic Orchestra), this organization also has no auditions and feels more like a family than a formal performance group.
“I’ve been with the group for about two years now, and it’s been exciting for me to play along with the stringed instruments. It’s been a challenge, but I feel these performances have allowed me to grow as a musician,” says Heidi.
“What I enjoy most about playing the flute is conveying the emotions that come through the music—especially the highly technical parts—and move the audience as it listens. When I see that an audience is moved, it makes all that practice and effort so rewarding to me.”
Los Alamos Flute Choir and beyond
Formed in 2016, the Los Alamos Flute Choir consists of professional musicians and scientists to amateurs and mothers. This all-flute ensemble plays a variety of music, including holiday music.
“This group, along with my work at flute master classes in Santa Fe, has given me valuable feedback when it comes to playing the flute, either with other flute players or as a soloist,” says Heidi. “Because the flute choir is so small, we have been able to continue working at our craft, following social-distancing rules and such throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also meant that Heidi has recorded more music than ever before. To date, she has recorded performances used in church services and for online events such as the Fuller Lodge Brown Bag event and the Coro de Camara virtual event.
“When recording a performance, it’s best to prepare as much as possible so that you capture the performance at a recording studio once or at most twice,” explains Heidi. “The longer a session goes on, the more tired I become, and that fatigue leads to mistakes. So, it’s best to prepare as much before a recorded performance so that it comes out as perfect as possible.”