Longest serving female flautist?

Longest serving female flautist?


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2017

There appear to be only two principal flutes in our exhaustive list of the longest serving orchestral players, and both are male.

Could it be that Nora Shulman, who is stepping down as principal flute of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra after 43 years, wins the endurance record for women?

She was hired as associate principal flute in 1974, became acting principal in 1984, and was appointed principal in 1986 by Sir Andrew Davis.

Nora retires in July and will be widely missed.


  • Bruce says:

    I have a couple of her solo CDs (on Naxos). A beautiful player.

  • Iskander says:

    NO!!!! Monique Gunnels played 2nd flute in the Columbus
    (Georgia) Symphony for 50 years. She retired in 2015. There was a nice article written about her here:

  • Kent Peacock says:

    Wow! I met her at a William Bennett master class in the late 70s, and she was an awesome player. It’s so cool that she has achieved this milestone.

  • MacroV says:

    With her retirement could we also retire the word “flautist?” It’s sounds SO pretentious, even in British English, I imagine. “Flutist” would seem to be quite sufficient for flute players of all levels.

    • Nick says:

      No, it doesn’t sound pretentious in British English. It’s just the normal word. But thank you for your concern.

  • Alfred Hornung says:

    Prudence Davis of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was appointed Principal flute in 1980. Might just about be the longest innings in the number 1 flute seat.

  • Janet Horvath says:

    My dear friend Nora has always been an inspiration. She has to this day been the hardest working musician I know with impeccably high standards who practices incessantly to achieve and maintain her standards. The TSO has been blessed with her beautiful playing and warm charming presence. Her next act will be to continue inspiring the next generation as a gifted teacher.

  • James Manishen says:

    Jan Kocman has been principal flute with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra since 1974, and is still going strong.

  • Jack Bonham says:

    – James – Jan Kocman is a dude!