Alexander Lipay

Alexander Lipay plays key role in this weekend’s concerts.

Chris Coduto / Arizona Daily Star

Hard to believe that Alexander Lipay is marking his 10th year as principal flute with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Then again, it’s hard to imagine the orchestra without the Russian native, his wind-tossed wavy locks barely visible behind the string section on most nights.

But when Lipay plays, you know instinctively that it is him.

We caught up with Lipay, who is nominated for a Grammy for engineering work he did with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, via email just before the holidays and learned five things about his TSO anniversary and his starring role in this weekend’s “Bach & Haydn in Harmony” MasterWorks concerts.

A first time for everything: “I was very surprised to find that Bach’s B minor Suite has never been performed by the Tucson Symphony. When I think of TSO premieres, this piece would be the last to come to mind. It is one of the most well-known works from the Baroque period. The other premiere on the program is Chamber Symphony by Shostakovich. It is a wonderful piece but it doesn’t have a flute part, so I am not involved in that. I will come back in the second half to play Haydn’s Symphony 102. It is a great uplifting symphony with lots of humor.”

“I have performed Bach’s B minor Suite before. I played it with maestro Eric Holtan in Tucson during one of the concerts dedicated to Bach’s birthday. I also performed it in Seattle with Seattle Symphony Orchestra two years ago. However, I have never played this particular symphony by Haydn.”

A place for the flute: “In Bach, flute plays an extensive role. It is the main instrument. I play almost nonstop and have many solos. Haydn uses a typical orchestration for a classical symphony from that period where flute often supports the violin line. I also get a few solo lines, especially in the first movement.”

Finding challenge and favor with Bach and Haydn: “On this program, Bach’s Suite and Haydn’s Symphony are my favorite pieces. The most challenging? I don’t look at music from that perspective any more. I have been playing for a long time and feel comfortable and confident playing any piece of music. There is a lot of music that I enjoy playing but there is absolutely nothing that I would want to play all day long.”

I feel like a Tucsonan when ... : “I am not happy when the outside temperature dips below 80 degrees.”

Keeping busy: “I am principal flute of True Concord Voices & Orchestra, Tucson Pops and St. Andrews Bach Society Chamber Orchestra. Besides playing flute and doing audio engineering work, I also like to paint. My paintings can be viewed on”

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.