Carol Wincenc is among the leading American flutists of her generation and is active as a soloist, chamber player, and professor of flute performance. Her choice of repertory is broad, encompassing standards by J.S. Bach, Mozart, and Nielsen, as well as contemporary works, especially by American composers. In the latter realm, she is known for giving many important premieres of works she inspired, such as Christopher Rouse's 1993 Flute Concerto, and numerous other compositions by Tobias Picker, Joan Tower, Peter Schickele, and others. Wincenc has hardly limited her efforts in new music to American repertory; however, she has premiered major works by European composers, such as Górecki's Concerto-Cantata. She has made numerous recordings for many labels, including Telarc, Naxos, DG, Decca, Albany Records, Musical Heritage Society, and CRI.
Carol Wincenc was born on June 29, 1949, in Buffalo, NY. Her father was a conductor and music professor and her mother a pianist. Wincenc began studies on the violin at four and did not take up the flute until age nine, but progress was rapid: as a teenager she studied with Italian virtuoso Severino Gazzelloni and then with Robert Willoughby at Oberlin. Post-graduate studies were at the Manhattan School of Music and at Juilliard under Arthur Lora.
After playing flute in several lesser-known ensembles, Wincenc joined the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. She left that post to enter the 1978 Naumburg Competition, and took first prize, thus launching her solo career with a near-meteoric rise. Her first recordings soon appeared on the Musical Heritage Society label and her concert schedule swelled with impressive dates both as soloist with major American and European orchestras and as chamber player. Moreover, she managed to balance this with teaching: she was on the faculty at Rice University for 11 years, has been a professor at Juilliard since 1988 and also teaches at Stony Brook University.
Wincenc has premiered many important works. Among the more important of them was her 1998 Valentines Day performance of Valentines, a collection of flute works by a clutch of prominent composers that included Górecki, Torke, and Schickele.
In 2005 Wincenc was nominated for a Grammy award for her collaborative performance of Passover Offering on a Naxos recording of compositions by Yehudi Wyner. Among Wincenc's recordings is her 2006 CD of early sonatas by Mozart, with pianist Gena Raps, also on the Naxos label, and a 2012 recording of flute quartets by American composers. In May 2014, Wincenc was awarded a lifetime achievement medal from the National Society of Arts and Letters.