Why do you say this? The trust is that we as flutists, are musicians, and if we truly wish to make beautiful music, we need to make beautiful art! Are we not trying to captivate the audience? Are we not trying to create an image, something beautiful?
Let me address vibrato, for me vibrato is the kind of paint (water color, oil paints etc) we use to put the paint on to the surface of the picture (think of the surface as the individual music competition) we are creating. Now one must be very careful, as some paints and some surfaces do not mix well. We can not use oil paints on water color paper. We must choose the medium and the surface we choose to display the image on very carefully. For example oil paints and water color paper do not mix, just like we can't use a nanny goat vibrato in the JS Bach Partita for Solo Flute. There are many kinds of vibrato: shimmery, a slower kind, fast, slow, etc.
The brush for me is the kind of dynamic we wish to apply to the music composition we are playing. We must be very careful to pick the dynamic of the tone to match the piece. We can't use a liner brush (see more about brushes here) to paint a large wash nor can we use a forte sound when playing the opening phrase of Debussy's Prelude to An Afternoon of Faun. Just as there are many kinds of brushes we can use to paint, there are many dynamics we can use.
The color of the individual paints for me is the sound quality and color of the sound. We must learn to apply the sight sound color and quality to the music we are playing. One can't use a dark, forceful, sound for the opening of Faure's Fantasy. Some flutists think in colors: blue, green, red etc. One can't use a blue color paint to create a realistic image of the Sun. Sound quality could be lyrical, singing (perfect for something like the last movement of the Franck: Sonata) or short and light (for the opening of the Mozart: Concerto, K313)
One most not forget the intonation and a good open sound, for me this is the quality of paint. We do not want to use cheap paint for our painting just like we do not want to use a non supported sound, is which very flat or sharp.
Recently, I have been working on the exposition of the Mozart: Concerto K313 for auditions. Now I have picked the painting surface, this time I will use water color paper. First I choose the dynamic for the first phrase I will play, which could decide if the Orchestra audition panel will want me to proceed to the next round. This is like choosing the brush you want to use for your first brush stroke, we want to create a background wash, so let's use a wash brush. I choose to play at a mezzo forte dynamic. Now I must think of the sound I want to create, a sound that is Mozartian in nature, and respects the Viennese flute school and sound. I think of a warm, bright sound, that is energetic and well support. The first note needs some vibrato to give it energy, the vibrato can't be shimmery or dark, it needs to give it a warm character, that is playful and elegant. I think of a warm golden happy color (such as a cadmium yellow) when playing the opening phrase. I know that for my painting I want to create a a nice warm background, I choose to use a yellow paint and I must use water color paints for this picture. If I tried to use oil paints on the water color paper, it wouldn't work very well. I can't use a slow stagnant vibrato for this phrase, it would not respect the Mozartian school pf playing. Now the most important part of playing the phrasing is to play with a good open sound and intonation. Now that I have formulated how to play the first phrase I am ready to produce it. This to me is similar to the artist placing their first brush stroke on their desired paint surface.
When I think of painting a picture or playing a music composition, I think of painting a beautiful picture. I love thinking of what I want the audience to imagine when the hear the sound of my flute. Recently for example, I've been playing Second Flute for a performance of the New World Symphony. To me the New World Symphony is like the film New World or Pocahontas. I think of the Native American's creeping around, I think of the Wind blowing through Pocahontas's hair, I think of the meeting of John Smith and Pocahontas. Now that I know what I want the audience to imagine when the hear my solos. I use the tools of vibrato, tone color and dynamics to display this.
How do you think tone applies to a music performance?