It was in elementary school that I first began to play the flute. And it was not a happy start. The fingering was hard, my hands were tired all the time from holding up the flute, and I never seemed to have enough air. I wanted to quit and begged my mom to let me. But my mom refused. She had signed a rental contract for the whole school year and wasn't going to let the money go to waste. Reluctantly, I continued playing with the band, fumbling with my fingers, and always being out of breath.
Except that's not what really happened. It wasn't very long before my hands grew stronger, my fingers grew more nimble, and my breathing became steady. In fact, within a couple of months, I was first chair flute in band and held the position for the entire year. Funny thing is, I no longer wanted to quit.
I began taking formal flute lessons my freshman year in high school, and it opened up a whole new world for me. I went to my first lesson feeling quite confident that I was a pretty good player. And I was.
But when my instructor picked up her flute and played one solitary note, tears immediately began to fall down my face—it was the most heavenly sound I had ever heard. I knew at that moment that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, play heavenly music.
I have performed in concert halls and cathedrals all around the world. Despite those elegant and impressive venues with their amazing acoustics, I have come to love a different kind of musical experience with a much different kind of audience.
I love to perform in prisons, homeless shelters, and orphanages. I love to see how people—ones who may have never heard a live instrument play in their lives—respond to the soulful loveliness of the flute. They often are mesmerized and visibly moved by the experience. Music truly can change lives! It can make all the difference.
In nearly every performance of this kind, I've received a request to play the familiar favorite, "Amazing Grace." It never fails to reach each person where they are. For this reason, it's become a tradition for me to end every concert with "Amazing Grace." In such uncertain times as we live in, music is one thing that is certain to inspire the soul and comfort the heart.
Elizabeth Vélez Urie received a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from Brigham Young University. While in college, she was invited by Elena Durán to study at the Stratford-upon-Avon International Flute Festival in England for three consecutive summers. At the festival, she had the opportunity to study with renowned international flutists including Elena Durán, Paul Edmund Davies, and Keith Bragg.
Elizabeth has won several solo competitions and has been a featured soloist with choirs and chamber orchestras. She has also premiered and recorded flute solo and chamber music and played in various short films. After graduating and moving to Los Angeles, Elizabeth studied with acclaimed flutist Jim Walker. In 2007, she was invited back to the Stratford-upon-Avon International Flute Festival as a guest instructor where she tutored young aspiring flutists. She currently resides in the San Diego area with her husband, Marcus.
Elizabeth enjoys kayaking, hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, backpacking, and horseback riding. She has hiked Half Dome twice and ran two marathons. She also enjoys studying nutrition in her spare time.