Chicago Philharmonic Principal Horn Neil Kimel


Neil KimelQ. Who inspired you to pursue music as a career?

A. My final decision to pursue music professionally came rather late. I was fairly young when my mother brought me to my father’s office where he was impressively sitting at his desk behind a mountain of papers. Upon leaving, I fearfully asked my mom if I had to work in an office when I grew up. Her big mistake was placating me by saying no and that there were other ways people made a living. Early on through music, I had amazing experiences, met friends for life and began to travel the world. I was hooked. Still not knowing if I had what it took to be a professional, I followed another interest and earned a bachelor’s degree in cinema studies while honing my skills on the horn. Obviously the horn won out in the end, but I still voraciously watch films of all kinds to which my patient wife Sandy can attest.

Q. What do you like most about the CPO’s ensemble approach to creating music?

A. I really enjoy playing the symphonic repertoire outside the pit with many of my colleagues from Lyric Opera as well as friends and fellow musicians from all over Chicago. It is a nice change of pace, repertoire and scenery during the opera season. I also enjoy the community feel the Chicago Philharmonic’s audience warmly gives us at every concert.

Q. What new endeavors would you like to see the CPO pursue in the future?

A. I understand how the economy and tickets sales directly affect an orchestra, but I would love to explore lesser known repertoire with the Chicago Philharmonic and our audience. If our patrons trusted us to program a mix of works they know in addition to some they may not, we as musicians would get to widen our experiences outside the common Pantheon of orchestral music.

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