Gannon University’s Erie Chamber Orchestra Welcomes First Soloist of 2016 Season

Posted: January 15, 2016

Everybody knows the names of the immortal instrumental virtuosi of the 19th-century, pianist Franz Liszt and the demonic violinist Niccolò Paganini among them. But who today remembers Bohumir Kryl?

James Thompson does. 

Thompson, a professor of trumpet at the Eastman School of Music and the longtime principal trumpet in Robert Shaw's Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, will be the soloist as the Erie Chamber Orchestra begins the 2016 portion of its season on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Cathedral Prep Auditorium, 250 West 10th St.

Thompson will play Kryl's "Josephine Waltz," once a calling card for the millionaire composer, bandleader, financier and art collector who was once called "the Caruso of the cornet" for his ability to hold high notes for an impossibly long time.

In truth, "Josephine" is not great music, but it is great fun, and it's a worthy vehicle for a virtuoso soloist. The hardy few who braved subzero temperatures to hear the ECO's presentation of Stravinsky's "A Soldier's Tale" last February can tell you that Thompson is just such a soloist.

This time around, he'll add Haydn's evergreen trumpet concerto to the program of the free concert, a showpiece that is as unavoidable for trumpet players as the Tchaikovsky concerto is for violinists. 

The Russian composer will be present on this program with his Suite No. 4. Subtitled "Mozartiana," it's a series of charming character pieces written by Tchaikovsky as an hommage to the composer he idolized.

A similar impulse led the young Benjamin Britten to write the piece that will open the program, a series of variations for string orchestra on a theme by his teacher, Frank Bridge. Closing the circle to Mozart, the Austrian composer's Symphony in D major, K. 196+121, which was adapted by Mozart himself from the overture to his early opera "La finta giardinera."

"Adoration and Adaptations" is a program where the ECO and its departing music director Matthew Kraemer prove that inspiration in the supposedly ossified world of classical music is continually refreshed, even when that inspiration is second-hand.