Before moving to Boston, MA in 2001, she was orchestra artist in the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. Following her previous CDs On the Bridge (2006) and Amber Flute Quartet (2010), Ilona's third and latest CD Nothing but Illusion (2011) showcases her jazz flute style.
Ilona's academic credentials include a Professional Diploma in Music Performance from Berklee College of Music and a Master of Arts in Music Performance from Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, a well-regarded institution located in Riga, Latvia, her native country. This is in addition to attending master classes, summer programs, and private lessons throughout the United States and Europe.
As a performer, composer, arranger, and professional musician, Ilona has taken part in hundreds of performances in all genres, including jazz, orchestral, chamber music, pop, rock, and electronic music ensembles. Since 2000, she has played flute and piccolo for the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, been the Flute Chair for the Greg Hopkins Jazz Orchestra in Boston, MA, and formed, led, composed, and arranged music for the Ilona Kudiņa Quintet and the Amber Flute Quartet. This is in addition to the numerous projects that include recording and performing at Jazz Festivals in the US and abroad, an international jazz celebration at the UN, classical solo recitals in the US, Canada, and Latvia, performances at the Latvian Embassy in Washington, DC, and many other concerts across various genres.
Ilona is a strong leader, as well as a generous and skilled collaborator. She has been an advocate for music for flute by Latvian composers and has always performed music for flute by her native country's composers in her flute solo recitals. Ilona's first 2-set CD On the Bridge (2006) is a compilation of chamber music for flute by world-renowned Latvian composers. In 2016, she received the American Latvian Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for success in the music field and for promoting Latvian music and culture in the USA.
Ilona is based in the Boston area. She has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. She also has more than 20 years of experience as an educator. Her former students include accomplished professional flute players who perform worldwide. She currently teaches music at the Brimmer and May School, Chestnut Hill, MA. She has also taught at the Boston Center of Adult Education and at Coolidge Corner Music. Ilona returns to Europe each summer to perform and teach master classes. She has also performed at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA, at Boston University, and in the American Repertory Theatre's production of Marat/Sade.
Ilona's passion is improvisation and jazz music. Ilona also sings and, in the words of Freddy Taylor, "She sounds like a Latvian Blossom Dearie." She has performed with the Greg Hopkins Orchestra at the Beantown Jazz Festival and at JazzFest Falmouth, and with her own Ilona Kudiņa Quintet in jazz clubs such as Ryles Jazz Club, the Regattabar, Scullers Jazz Club, and at the Saulkrasti Jazz Festival. In July 2017, the Ilona Kudiņa Quintet, a group of global citizens with Latvian roots, will perform at the Saulkrasti Jazz Festival. The Quintet consists of progressive Latvian instrumentalists and brings a unique voice to the current improvisational scene.
Since 2015, Ilona Kudiņa is Willow Flute Ensemble music director. The Willow Flute Ensemble is proud to celebrate its 20th season in 2016-2017. The Willow Flute Ensemble is a seven-member group of musicians, specializing in all flutes – from piccolo down to the deep-toned bass flute. Willow specializes in music from cultures around the world, expanding the styles of music available to flutes.
Ilona Kudiņa founded the Amber Flute Quartet in 2008 as a vehicle for showcasing music for flute by Baltic composers. She continues to serve as the Quartet leader. In 2014, the Amber Flute Quartet was enthusiastically received in a USA concert tour organized by the Latvian Cultural Association TILTS ("Bridge"), Inc., with additional support by the American Latvian Association (ALA) and USA Latvian communities. Various concerts in Latvian cities such as Sigulda, Riga, Ogre, and Daugavpils, were also always received with enthusiasm. In 2010, Ilona produced the first Amber Flute Quartet CD, which was sponsored by the Baltic American Society of New England and released in commemoration of the Baltic Concert Series Fiftieth Season. On Friday, June 30th, 2017, the Amber Flute Quartet performs at the opening ceremony of the XIV Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Baltimore, MD. The Amber Flute Quartet is preparing to celebrate its tenth-year anniversary in 2018.
For many years, Ilona has served as a board member and currently as president of the Baltic American Society of New England, in Boston, MA. Over the years, the Society has managed and produced successful concerts featuring many Baltic performing artists. In 2018, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian organizations of Boston and Baltic American Society of New England, invite you to participate in the Centennial Celebration of Independence.
© 2015-2017 Ilona Kudina. Photos by Svens Skriveris.