Singer, rapper and classically-trained flute player Lizzo brought Mozart to the stage at this year’s Glastonbury festival, kicking off her anthem “Truth Hurts” with Mozart’s overture to the opera The Magic Flute. The artist performed to a crowd of more than 100,000 people.
Lizzo played the main theme of the opera overture on flute, with two other flautists performing in counterpoint. She then ended on a trill to transition into the 2019 hit “Truth Hurts”. She also played flute later in the performance, with her signature stage antic of twerking whilst playing.
An avid advocate for the flute, Lizzo studied classical music at the University of Houston and the instrument has featured heavily in her career. She performed with Sir James Galway at this year’s Met Gala, and at the 2022 event she performed Debussy on the red carpet on an 18-karat gold flute. The performer even appeared playing flute on a recent episode of The Simpsons, jamming on the iconic title theme from the show, with Lisa playing saxophone.
Lizzo’s flute Sasha (named after Beyoncé’s alter ego Sasha Fierce), has its own persona on social media where the flute is the star. The account has 345,000 followers. Posted to the account are photos from the festival which zoom in on the flute. Responses on the post were enthusiastic: “Awesome to see you there Sasha! Fabulous performance,” said one comment. Others included: “Utterly Iconic. You were the headline act in my opinion!” and:
“My 11 yr old daughter loved you and she also plays the flute.”
The Glastonbury performance came shortly after Lizzo announced the recipients of her Juneteenth Giveback, awarding funding to “black organizations that are formed at the grassroots.” The Giveback included two awards to organisations working to improve diversity and inclusion in classical music.
$US50,000 ($74,454) was awarded to the Sphinx Organisation, a social justice organisation dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Announcing the donation on social media, Lizzo said:
“This black girl played the flute and I didn’t feel like I belonged and this organisation is helping young black musicians feel like they belong in any room they stand in.”
She also partnered with the University of Houston, where she studied, to provide $50,000 for a new “Sasha be Fluting Music Scholarship” for “any young black student from Houston Texas who has applied to go to the University of Houston to study at the Moores School of Music.” “That was me just a couple years ago, a young black flute player who just needed a scholarship and someone to believe in them. And now I get to pay it forward,” Lizzo said while announcing the prize.
Juneteenth is a USA holiday commemorating the 1865 emancipation of enslaved African Americans.