USC alumna Gina Luciani builds global music brand
Everything was planned. Gina Luciani was ready to take a camping trip. However, after one phone conversation, she decided to cut the trip short after receiving an offer to play the famous flute solo on the hit song “Down Under” with Colin Hay of Men at Work for ABC’s nationally televised Greatest Hits.
In the shows, musicians performing with the band would typically be placed in the background and only appear on camera for a few seconds. However, nearly an entire week’s worth of preparation paid off for Luciani. The recording crew asked her to walk to the center of the stage during the song’s instrumental solo and let her know which two cameras would be filming her, as she was to be broadcast frequently during the televised program. If Luciani had not cut her camping trip short, this opportunity would have gone to someone else.
Luciani’s intense passion for music has driven her impressive career. When she was 4 years old, her favorite movie was The Little Mermaid. She wanted to know what instrument Prince Eric played. Even though the instrument in the movie was a fife, the closest instrument her mother could think of was the flute, which Luciani has been playing ever since.
Music brought Luciani to Los Angeles where she attended the Colburn Conservatory of Music for her bachelor’s degree and USC for her master’s degree. She is now a recording artist for various mediums, such as film, television and video games. Some notable projects she has performed in include: Straight Outta Compton, League of Legends, Halo Wars 2, Planet Earth II, Penny Dreadful and Chef’s Table. Luciani also made appearances in High School Musical 3, Glee and Teen Wolf.
The flutist has been featured on many stages aside from her gig with Colin Hay — one of her favorite performances of all time. The opportunities are so numerous that she has difficulty pinpointing one as her favorite. However, playing at the Music Center with famed composer John Williams was a highlight. Another memorable show was playing with the Wu Tang Clan at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Luciani creates music for composers around the world, leading her to offer remote recordings. This is beneficial to L.A. composers who have to meet a short deadline and do not have time to set up a recording session at a studio. In addition, it allows her to work for clients no matter where they are. Remote recording requires Luciani to be not only the musician, but also the recording engineer. Providing this unique service has led her to work on diverse projects ranging from pop songs to film soundtracks.
Two months ago, Luciani decided to display her flute skills to a broader audience when she began uploading her own arrangements of movie and television themes, a genre of music that she is passionate about, on her self-titled YouTube channel.
Because a flute can only play one line, she included all the accompaniment in her covers with various screens of her playing different parts with multiple flutes from a collection of over 100 traditional and ethnic flutes that she owns. Actors and composers for the respective films and shows, like Up or House of Cards, have responded to her covers and have even shared them.
While anyone can use her YouTube channel to find tutorials on topics aimed at musicians and flutists, she also provides lessons through her one-on-one Skype lessons, enabling her to instruct students from many different countries. Luciani recalls having to travel to musicians or wait until they were touring nearby so she could have a lesson with them when she was younger. Now, people can find her on social media or contact her through her website.
Luciani has also gained a substantial following on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. She made her Instagram public for her professional career about two years ago and her account has since grown to over 24,000 followers. One of Luciani’s favorite things about utilizing social media is that she can connect with anyone from anywhere in the world. She also loves that music can bring people together, regardless of their backgrounds, beliefs or other affiliations.
Although Luciani aims to post photos or videos daily, she still displays strong artistic integrity.
“Of course, it would be easier to produce more content than I’m currently doing if I didn’t maintain the quality, and it would probably boost my numbers,” she said. “Ultimately I would rather sacrifice numbers over quality.”
However, social media is not the only hobby that Luciani partakes in aside from flute playing. She has utilized her love of design to start selling merchandise including an instrument cleaning cloth that she co-designed with a British company. Because classical music has been seen as old and dated, she wanted her brand to be fresh and fun. She put in so much effort that she is close to creating her own music lifestyle brand, which she hopes to launch this spring.
Luciani continues to give back to the USC community in spite of her busy career schedule. This year marks her second year on the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors. She has also served on the Thornton School of Music Alumni Advisory Council since 2013.
When she was studying to earn her Master of Music at USC, professor Jim Walker inspired her the most out of all her peers and professors. In fact, Luciani cites Walker as a catalyst to her career.
“His career encompasses recording, performing, teaching, publishing his own music and much more,” she said. “I think every musician should model their career after his by having many aspects to their career and not putting all their eggs in one basket.”
With an impressive number of performances and upcoming projects, from the recently released “Birth of the Dragon” to Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, Gina Luciani has had an accomplished career as a flutist and her decision to follow Walker’s career model has proven to be conducive to her success.