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Mindy Kaufman, 22, joins Zubin Mehta’s New York Philharmonic this month as the only piccolo player and youngest musician in the 106-member orchestra. She began studying flute at 11 back in White Plains, N.Y., then at 14 also took up the smaller, higher-pitched piccolo (“the fingering is just the same”) so she could be in the East-view Junior High School marching band for a Memorial Day parade. After graduating last year from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, she beat out applicants from all over the U.S. to become the Rochester Philharmonic’s only piccolo player. Less than a year later she conquered a field of 60—in four tryouts—and was on her way to Manhattan. The brown-haired, pixieish Mindy practices two and a half hours and runs five miles every day “because it’s good for my wind.” Listing her weaknesses as bubble baths, cognac, Saturday Night Live and Sunday morning bagels, she has a ready answer when pressed about further ambitions. “I’m here to stay,” she says. Feeling that at last she has found a musical home, she says, “I love music for orchestras and I don’t anticipate soloing. It feels wonderful to never ever have to audition again.”

James Strachan, 25, acquired a yen for travel from his divorced mother, a United Nations refugee official, and cashed in. He now spends up to six months a year negotiating multimillion-dollar investments in North Africa and the Middle East. As assistant vice-president for the London-based Merrill Lynch International Banking Group, he has helped float a $25 million note between the Kuwaiti and Panamanian governments and backed a Qatar sheik in an $11 million hotel project. That means pressure. “It’s hair-raising every time when you’re dealing with people in that part of the world,” he complains. “They take a long time to make up their minds.” While studying economics at Cambridge University, he spent summers working for a Chase Manhattan Bank affiliate in London and took one year off to apprentice in a merchant bank. Then after graduation James indulged his wanderlust. He supported himself making mud bricks in a Tanzanian village, then tracked Bedouin tribes in Abu Dhabi for a film script. Finally he safaried across much of Africa, building up a file of contacts. There is still one deal that the six-foot bachelor(born partially deaf) isn’t quite ready to sew up: “I don’t think a wife would like the way I live very much.”