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August 15, 2011

In aftermath of London riots, painful story of musician, flutes and cats

There must be innumerable stories of suffering and loss from the London riots, so it may seem unfair to single any of them out.

But this one, reported by The Guardian, pulls at two of my heartstrings -- music and cats -- and I thought it was worth sharing.

The name of Carla Rees is new to me. I know now that she's an accomplished flutist, with a speciality in the alto and bass flute.

In addition to solo work, she is artistic director of an ensemble called Rarescale. Her flair for contemporary music is reflected in her performance of over 250 premieres.

She also teaches at a college of the University of London.

By virtue of where she happened to share a flat in Croydon with her boyfriend, Rees is now homeless, victim of one of the riot-fueled fires that swept London. She and her boyfriend returned from ...

coaching students in a youth orchestra to find the streets filled with rioters, reports The Guardian: "Fearful of the atmosphere, they grabbed clean clothes, fed the cats and booked into a hotel. An hour later, her home was in ruins."

Rees, 34, lost at least 10 valuable flutes and hundreds of music scores, including compositions written for her and Rarescale -- unpublished scores filled with notes from the composers.

Adding to the devastation was that Rees lost her two cats in the blaze. Like so many Londoners, I suspect, she could not have realized that the rage and mindlessness in the streets would escalate to such destruction.

A fund has been set up online to help the flutist.


Posted by Tim Smith at 12:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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