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26 April 2021, 15:27
Heidi Slyker lost her beloved flute the night before her first rehearsal with a new orchestra. Nearly a decade later, she’s finally got it back.
Nine years ago Heidi Slyker, a musician from Maryland, US, left her flute in the back of a taxi.
It was 3.30am, and a few hours later she had her first rehearsal with the New England Philharmonic, who she had auditioned for years ago but finally had a flautist position open up, the New York Times reports.
Her flute, a Brannen Brothers silver Millennium then worth a reported $10,000 that she had reportedly bought herself as a teenager, had slipped onto the floor. As soon as the cab drove off, Slyker “immediately knew” she’d left her flute in the back seat.
She called the taxi company and filed a police report, but no one was able to track down the flute or driver.
Desperate to see her instrument again, Slyker told a local news station she was “devastated” and would have to quit the orchestra if her missing flute did not reappear. “My whole life was playing that instrument,” she told CBS Boston.
The next day, she played at the rehearsal on a flute lent to her by a friend – but her sound had taken a hit, as was made clear to her by the orchestra.
“They were like ‘Flute 2 sounds terrible’. And I was like, I’m sorry,” she told the Times. “I was able to finish the concert, but I never got asked back... It was terrible. I finally got into an orchestra and I just had to quit.”
It took Slyker five years to save up for her new flute, a $13,000 Aurumite 9K by Powell Flutes.
Then, in March this year, Slyker received a call from Brannen Brothers, who said a music store in Boston had contacted them about a silver flute, which a customer had brought in for appraisal.
A music store employee had reported to Boston Police a month earlier that the serial number matched that of the one Slyker lost in the cab. “I almost passed out,” Slyker told the US publication.
The instrument was flagged by an eagle-eyed woodwind specialist at the store who was suspicious of the customer, saying the way he handled the instrument didn’t match how a professional flautist might treat it.
In April, police spoke with the customer, who told police he had bought it from an unknown man.
Later, he turned over the flute, now worth an estimated $13,000, to detectives so it could be returned to its rightful owner.
It was later found that the customer was a cab driver, who was working for the taxi company the night Slyker’s flute was reported missing.
On Monday, Slyker and her cherished instrument were finally reunited. “I’m not a vengeful person, but he really did mess with me,” she told the Times. “It was just so personal, and it affected me in so many ways.”