Cătălina Popa is a Romanian flute player born and raised in Cluj-Napoca. Although she is best known for her collaborations in the metal/rock genre (alongside Haggard, Whispering Woods) she is also an accomplished classical musician and flute teacher.
Cătălina began her musical journey when she joined a choir at the age of five. After that, she insisted that she study music at the local music school. Her father was playing a lot of Jethro Tull around the house at that time so naturally, she decided she wanted to learn how to play the flute.
Thus, in 2000 she enrolled at the “Sigismund Toduță” Music Highschool in Cluj-Napoca, majoring in flute and piano. She graduated from the same high school in 2008. During her high school years she won a number of awards at flute competitions (such as 1st and second prizes at the National Music Olympics, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008; 1st prize and Grand prize at the National Woodwinds Competition, 2004; finalist at the “Searching for Enescu” Music Competition, Bucharest, 2006, etc.) and played as a soloist with the school's orchestra as well as the Orchestra of the National University of Music, Bucharest.
Wishing to learn from the best, she participated in Wiliam Bennett's International Flute Summer School 2007, London where she worked with William Bennett (UK), Dennis Bouriakov (RU), Lorna McGee (UK), Ian Clarke (UK) and Body Mapping – What Every Musician Needs To Know About Their Body 2008/2009 studying under Liisa Ruoho (FI), Amy Likar (USA), Lea Pearson (USA).
In 2008, she went on to study flute with Prof. Gavril Costea and Liliana Cadar-Manoleasa at the “Gheorghe Dima” Music Academy in Cluj-Napoca graduating in 2012 after finishing her last year as an Erasmus student at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland with Prof. Liisa Ruoho.
In the meantime, Cătălina has performed on many national and international stages as a soloist, in different chamber ensembles and local orchestras. She has also continued participating in masterclasses with world renowned artists such as: Liisa Ruoho (FI), Bálint Iános (HU), Kersten McCall (NED) and Andrea Lieberknecht (DE), the last of which as a student at ISA International Summer School Wien, 2013. During the 2013 summer program, she won the award for Best Performance of a Contemporary Piece for Takuja Imahori's Trio for flute, violin and piano performed together with Michiko Theurer on violin and Saori Toyama on piano.
Recently, she has obtained her Master's Degree in Music Performance – Flute from the “Gheorghe Dima” Music Academy, Cluj-Napoca. During her postgraduate studies, Cătălina has specialized in 20th Century music, writing her dissertation on the stylistically diverse flute repertoire of the era.
Following in her family’s footsteps, she began teaching flute at “Tudor Jarda” Music School in Bistrita where she applies Alexander Technique and Body Mapping strategies to help develop a fun and effective teaching environment for her students.
Discovering a new musical career path
Her parents were a big part of Cătălina's musical influences. Although there was a lot of classical music being played around the house, her father was the one who introduced her to jazz and later to rock music through artists such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Pantera, Metallica and many more.
She became intrigued about the expressive possibilities generated by the combination of a true classical instrument such as flute with other musical genres. During her high school years, she experimented with jazz and folk (playing in a big band and a few folk ensembles).
In 2006, a few of her friends put together a death metal band called Umbris and invited her to join. It was her first experience of this sort but it would mark the beginning of a new and exciting life. After Umbris, she collaborated with a few other bands but nothing stuck.
The decisive moment in her career was marked by her joining German Symphonic Metal band Haggard in 2009 and thus taking her passion for combining classical and metal music to a new level.
By pure chance, she was contacted by the band in need of a flute player for their concert in Cluj-Napoca. After playing the concert she was invited to join the band for the remainder of their tour and she went on to perform in Bucharest, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (together with the Plovdiv Orchestra), Thessaloniki and Athens in Greece.
Her collaboration with the band continued after the tour. Thus she joined them on the Era Divina Tour 2010, the Dark Symphony Tour 2012, Latin America Tour 2012/2014 with shows in Romania, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Greece, Turkey, Switzerland, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil and Columbia. Alongside Haggard, Cătălina has had the opportunity to play at some of the biggest metal festivals in the world such as Global East Festival, Kiev 2010; Festival Mediaval, Selb 2010; RockHarz Festival 2011; Artmania Festival, 2013; Wacken Open Air 2013; 70000 Tons of Metal, 2014.
In 2010, Cătălina was invited to join Romanian symphonic doom/metal band Whispering Woods. Together, they recorded their self produced album “Fairy Woods”. The album was mixed and mastered by Frank Renner and released in September 2011. “Fairy Woods” was very well received by the public and critics alike and culminated in the band being signed by LoudRageMusic in 2014. The band has been actively playing shows since 2010, performing at festivals like Rock Night for Lady's Night, Bucharest, 2011; Ghost Festival, Rasnov 2012; Metal Crush Party, Bucharest 2012; Photo Romania Festival, Cluj-Napoca 2013; Transylvanian Book Festival, Cluj-Napoca 2013; Rock for Livia, 2014; 1 Mai Rock Festival, Sibiu 2014; StudentFest, Timișoara 2014, as well as different venues across Romania.
Presently, Cătălina is preparing to continue her musical studies and enter the studio for the recording of the new Haggard and Whispering Woods albums.
When she is not teaching, touring or in the studio recording material for her bands' releases, she enjoys reading, cooking, running and catching up on her TV series.
Currently, Cătălina plays a GUO New Voice C flute and a GX series Muramatsu silver flute, captured with a Db Technologies PU860P wireless microphone system and a Boss VE 20 voice processor.
If you want to know what she's up to or when you can see her performing live, please check: