Born into a musical family, Mrs. Donato grew up thinking that everyone played an instrument. She began piano lessons at the age of 6. At 11, she began her study of the flute with her father, Dr. Charles Martyn, now a retired professor of music. Her mother (a singer), sister (a clarinetist), grandfather (a trumpeter), along with other family members, created many opportunities for music making. Mrs. Donato continued her musical studies on flute, piano, piccolo and organ through college at West Virginia Institute of Technology in Montgomery, WV.
In 1998 she she began study on flute and piano with internationally acclaimed flutist, pianist, and composer Gary Schocker. Mrs. Donato is now his master class director. Their musical work together can be heard on the CD "Springsongs," with Mrs. Donato on flute and Mr. Schocker on piano. "Springsongs" features sacred and classical works, plus a number of Mr. Schocker's pieces, including "November Song" which was written for her.
Mrs. Donato also studied privately with Julius Baker and performed in master classes and coachings with Trudy Kane, Jeff Khaner, Timothy Hutchins, Michael Parloff, Marina Piccinini and Alexa Still. She studied Alexander Technique with Bill Connington, the former chairman of the board of the American Center for Alexander Technique.
Mrs. Donato is the founder (1993) and director of the Flute Ensemble at Marist College, and an adjunct faculty member. She teaches online flute and piano lessons to students all over the United States and the world. She performed for 18 years with the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra on flute and piccolo. She was the music director of Trinity Episcopal Church from 2000-2006, playing the organ and directing the choir, and is an organ substitute and flute performer for a number of churches. She has given numerous recitals in the Hudson Valley region.
Julie Donato and harpist Laura Majestic were featured on “An American Christmas,” first aired nationally on CBS and the Odyssey network, and now in syndication.
Mrs. Donato's first solo compact disc, "Seek Ye First," a collection of spiritual and classical works, includes music for flute and harp with Ms. Majestic, as well as flute and piano. Her other recordings include several releases through the Heritage of the March series produced by Mr. Robert Hoe. The last CD of the series, “Memories from the Big Top,” with the Heritage Circus band, was under the baton of the famed Merle Evans, Ringling Brothers conductor for over 50 years.
That’s the “official” bio that I use in recital programs. The longer story is that immediately after college, I started a successful career in publishing and other endeavors, working first for the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., followed by Hudson Valley Magazine, and then as Director of Development for Hospice in Poughkeepsie, New York. While I was doing hospice work, I realized that what I loved doing most was playing music, and decided to change careers and return to music full-time.
At that time, I began studying with Gary Schocker, who has been a great inspiration to me, as a teacher, musician and friend. I thought after I left my “day job” that I wouldn’t be doing much with my other writing and computer skills, but I was wrong. I created and maintained his web site for many years. We created his wonderful summer master classes in 2002, and they are going strong as international online classes. I ran his Winter Flute Retreat, Summer Master Classes, as well as workshops for Dan Cayer, a renowned teacher of the Alexander Technique. We hope to return to in-person classes in the future.
These skills were valuable as I worked with my husband, Joe, teaching dance, and running our studio, the Hudson Valley Dance Depot. The studio was voted Best Dance Classes for Adults for three years in a row! (2018, 2019, and 2020)
My diverse experiences help me as an artist. Nothing has shown me more about the potential for music than seeing the pain of a dying friend alleviated as I played at her bedside, which I could not have done without my hospice background. As a working musician, the ability to inform others about my performances, teaching, and recordings using my writing and computer skills has been helpful. I would not change any of my life and am happy to have had so many different work experiences.
Since I am now happily married to Joseph Donato, I use the name Julie Donato now, but was also known professionally as Julie Martyn-Baker and Julie Martyn.