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‘From the Top’ sounds good to flutist Elizabeth Sperry

Age: 18

Hometown: Chelmsford

Think of: Lady Jeanne Galway with a modern, youthful flair.

What caught our eye: Elizabeth Sperry is slated to perform with pianist Christopher O'Riley during a live recording of NPR's "From the Top" in Boston next month.

Light-bulb moment: Sperry has two. The first came when she "opened up the flute and [she] saw all the silver keys," which she called "really, really cool." "The next light-bulb moment was the first time I played in orchestra as a flute player," Sperry said. She was a 12-year-old member of the Nashoba Youth Orchestra at the time. "That was really inspiring and I knew that was something that I wanted to do."


Biggest thrill: "It was probably playing Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony at Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms," Sperry said. She called the performance with the National Youth Orchestra, which was in front of a crowd of 6,000 or 7,000, "like a giant classical music festival." The NYO is a four-week summer program, comprising two weeks of rehearsal and two weeks of tour.

Inspired by: "Dr. Phil — I know it sounds like an odd one," Sperry said. She began watching Phil McGraw's TV show three or four years ago. "I love watching him and I've learned a lot from him," she added. "He says a lot about being accountable for your reactions. . . . Be as happy as you possibly can."

Aspires to: "I guess one of my short-term goals for right now is getting back into the National Youth Orchestra. You have to re-audition every year. Long term, just really improving my skills," Sperry said. Although music is her first love, she's practical about her career goals. "It's such a hard decision choosing between a stable, reliable job doing something you know you can provide for yourself, and provide for a family, then choosing to do something that is very risky financially, emotionally but doing something you love and are gifted at." If becoming a member of an organization like the Boston Symphony Orchestra or Boston Pops isn't in her future, Sperry has a fall-back plan: becoming a doctor of emergency medicine.


For good luck: "Practicing. Other than that, really nothing. Right before I go onstage, I like to delude myself into thinking I'm completely 100 percent prepared. I guess that would be my ritual — building up my morale when my morale doesn't necessarily deserve to be that high."

What people should know: "I think people should know that my playing ability is half because of what I've done and half because of what my mom has done," Sperry said of her mother, Michele. "Without her I wouldn't have been able to travel, and without her support I wouldn't have been able to get to the places I've needed to go to accomplish what I have." Sperry's rehearsal schedule required an average of three trips to Boston a week for lessons at the Boston Flute Academy and rehearsals at the Boston Youth Symphony while she was in high school.

Coming soon: Sperry will travel from New York to Boston for NPR's live radio show, "From the Top," at the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall on Oct. 5. Until then, she admits she is "just kind of focusing to getting acclimated to college." Sperry began her freshman year at Stony Brook University last month, where she is majoring in chemistry and plans to play with both the University Orchestra and the University Symphony Orchestra.


Emily Wright can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MissEmilyWright.