Elena Durán is one of the most charismatic flute players on the international concert platform today. She was born and raised in East Oakland, California to parents who were both born in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She received her early musical education in the Oakland Schools system and after high school she studied at Mills College. At the age of only twenty she was appointed Lecturer in Flute at Stanford University.
After two years she resigned her post at Stanford to resume her studies in Europe with Jean Pierre Rampal, Alain Marion, Aurèle Nicolet and James Galway. She then spent the following years based in England, developing a concert career that has taken her all over Europe, the Far East, Australasia, and the Americas.
Elena has made concerto appearances and recordings with many major orchestras in the UK, USA, Europe and with virtually every orchestra in Mexico. She has played regularly for members of the British Royal Family including two Royal Galas with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London’s Royal Albert Hall in front of Her Majesty the Queen. She has also appeared frequently on television and radio in many countries and has had her own radio programmes in both Mexico and the UK. She was also the founder and for twenty years the artistic director of the Stratford-on-Avon International Flute Festival.
Elena has devoted herself to the cause of Mexican music and has found enormous success with her shows MEXICO DE MI CORAZÓN and AMORCITO CORAZÓN and is about to premier her new show ELLA Y EL REY devoted to the music of José Alfredo Jiménez.
She is also passionate about her out-reach project FLAUTA SIN FRONTERAS. In 2006, Elena Durán began a program of concerts on both sides of the US-Mexico border as part of a lifelong project to overcome barriers and foster mutual understanding through music. As a part of this out-reach project, Elena brought music to young, old, disabled and disadvantaged people who seldom have the opportunity to hear live music. In October 2006 she made a tour along the US-Mexican border and in May 2008 completed a second tour along the Texas-Mexico Border covering 3,000 km and including thirty ‘encuentros’ in the course of four weeks. Elena has made regular visits to jails in Mexico City and a tour of Jails in the State of Puebla; she has also given performances in jails from many other states from Oaxaca to Baja California. You can read more about Flautas sin Fronteras in the June 2008 edition of “Inside Mexico,” or watch “Flautas sin Fronteras, a video documentary produced by Teveuam.
Each year, Elena makes a tour of the jails of Mexico City and she has also played in the jails of many other States. TV-UNAM has recently completed a TV profile of Elena, documenting her work in Mexico and her career and also screened a series of six TV Programs which they have recorded with her over the past five years. In 2009 Elena was named as Mexico City’s Ambassador in recognition of her exceptional career and her out-reach work and last year in the USA she received two humanitarian awards, one for her work with homeless women and the other for her work along the Border. In September 2015, Elena was appointed Cultural Ambassador of Amistad Británico-Mexicana.
Read this 2003 article from The Chronicle in which Elena reflects on her childhood ambitions to become a flautist.