Taylor Lents


First two photos by Matt Dine


Eastern Music Festival, Greensborough, NC, 2017; Aspen Music Festival and School, 2018–19

What is your earliest memory of classical music?

My earliest memories of classical music would probably be tied to the Warner Bros. cartoons and old MGM Westerns I used to watch with my dad while growing up. I didn’t know what genre the music was at the time, but looking back at those memories now I can see how the music was a big part of why I loved those shows and movies so much. Now that I’m a musician, my dad loves to point out all of the percussion and timpani parts he hears in all of those shows/movies.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?

I realized I wanted to pursue music as a career probably sometime in high school. In my band program, we had a percussion class separate from the full band class. My band director, who was a trombone player, took every opportunity he could to bring percussion teachers in, and he also took the time to share videos, resources, etc. related to all types of percussion (classical, marching band, drumset, world percussion, etc.). One day, he showed us some videos of Dame Evelyn Glennie, a Scottish percussion soloist, and that was the first time I realized two things: that it was possible to make a career out of being a percussionist, and that there were well-recognized women percussionists. It still took a while after that for me to admit that I wanted to pursue music as a career, but I can definitely point to that moment and the other moments of my band director introducing us to the vast world of percussion as largely influential in my decision to pursue music.

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century?

I personally think orchestra concerts in the 21st Century should reflect the communities that they are situated in and should actively work to build close relationships with those communities. Orchestra concert halls still uphold many outdated etiquettes and ideas about education or background needed to enjoy an orchestra concert that drive a wedge between the musicians on the stage and the people in the audience. As orchestras continue to shift and change, I hope to see and be a part of more connection between musicians and audience members, making concerts more accessible with lower ticket prices and more diverse programming, and more freedom for audience members to move about and find some sense of comfort and safety in a concert hall. I think what TŌN is doing, having musicians speak directly to and connect with audiences, for example, is a great step in the right direction.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspirations are my friends, mentors, family, and chosen family. Seeing them push themselves to grow, find happiness, stay inspired, and continue doing what they love has always inspired me to keep pushing myself to see how far I can grow.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician?

My favorite experience as a musician has been getting to travel and see so much of the country that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to, as well as having the opportunity to meet so many incredible people from all walks of life.

Favorite non-classical musician or band

Hiatus Kaiyote, Esperanza Spalding, and Qveen Herby are a few of my go-tos to listen to.

If you could play another instrument, what would it be?

Appalachian Dulcimer or banjo

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

Studying epigenetics

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us

I grew up having pet chickens at various points in my childhood.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician

Be kind and compassionate to yourself, and make time to find joy and inspiration in doing other things outside of your musical studies. It’ll make you a more well-rounded, whole musician and human being, and it’ll allow you to briefly step away and decompress from an emotionally challenging craft/career.