Annual festival celebrates chamber music
Jan 11, 2013 (The Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
They'll be playing French "taxi" horns and 20th-century Roman nightingales Sunday in Stockton.
"You swear you're in nature," Paul Kimball said of the 85-year-old avian effects. "It's not even hokey. Oh, you could be walking in Yosemite."
Actually, he'll be conducting in downtown Stockton as the 26-member St. John's Chamber Orchestra's 12th annual festival opens at St. John's Anglican Church. It continues Friday and Jan. 20.
The 60-second nightingale interlude occurs during Italian composer Ottorino Respighi's "Pines of Rome," one of five compositions Kimball's ensemble of leading Stockton musicians plays during a 90-minute performance.
"You're in a beautiful pine forest," Kimball said of the sonic atmosphere. "There's a high sound and you hear the nightingales. Respighi actually recorded real nightingales in 1928 in Rome."
Their trilling usually is provided on a vinyl phonograph, but Kimball found his vintage bird chirps on an MP3 file purchased from New York-based Boosey & Hawkes.
The "taxi" horns, rented in San Francisco, actually sound like Paris taxis during George Gershwin's "An American in Paris."
"No," Kimball said. "You need the real 'taxi' horns and nightingales."
The orchestra also performs "Florentiner March" by Czech composer Julius Fucik; "Girl with the Flaxen Hair" by France's Claude Debussy; and "American Flourish" by Robert W. Smith (who's from Daleville, Ala.).
"My mom used to play 'Girl With the Flaxen Hair' on the piano," said Kimball, 50, a brass player who teaches music at Lincoln High School. "It has such a beautiful melody."
Among the 26 music professors, teachers and professionals performing it: Art Holton (principal clarinet), who leads the music program at Delta College; and Chris Anderson (trombone), a music teacher and conductor of the Valley Concert Band.
The orchestra includes all instruments except strings -- saxophones, trumpets trombones, French horn, clarinet, tuba, oboe, euphoniun, flute and piano.
In a real oddity, Bob Gottschalk, who's playing euphonium, sits next to tuba player Matthew Tropman, a lecturer at University of the Pacific. Tropman and Gottschalk competed against each other in the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium Competition semifinals 15 years ago in Twin Lake, Mich.
Kimball said his ensemble is a suitable size for the venue, which seats 260.
"They're all hopping," Kimball said of the musicians. "I've got some really challenging things for them. We're taking it as far as we can go. It's great.
"At the end, 'The Pines of Rome' is so triumphal. You can have a grand emotional journey. Especially in that church, with its European acoustics. It gets inside of you."
Along with those nightingales' songs, naturally.
Contact reporter Tony Sauro at (209) 546-8267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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