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February 25, 2016

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CLAUDIA: Can you describe the first time you ever went to hear a symphony orchestra play a live concert?

NEIL: I think the first time I heard a symphony orchestra live was a youth concert with the Chicago Symphony. Nice way to start! I happen to be in a box seat and I was so impressed by the experience. I don’t have specific memories, but every time I play at Symphony Center I think of that first concert and the path that got me to where I am today.

CLAUDIA: Did they have a music program in your elementary school when you were growing up?

NEIL: Yes, I began playing the French horn in 5th grade with a stellar band director.

CLAUDIA: How old were you when you started taking private lessons?

NEIL: 10

I knew nothing about any of the instruments. The day I went to select one, it just happened to be band instruments.

Neil Kimel

CLAUDIA: How did you choose the instrument you play professionally? NEIL: I knew nothing about any of the instruments. The day I went to select one, it just happened to be band instruments. I liked the aesthetic look of the horn with all of the curves, asked what it was, made a (horrible) sound on it and took it home to the amazement and confusion of my parents.

CLAUDIA: What or who was your guiding influence as a music student? NEIL: I had amazing guidance from day one with my aforementioned band director, youth orchestra conductor, high school band and orchestra conductors, my private teachers Daniel Gingrich of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his wife Mary, my college professor Barry Benjamin and talented colleagues from way back until the present who still teach me and push me to grow every day.

CLAUDIA: Can you describe the first time you ever went to hear a symphony orchestra play a live concert?

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NEIL: I think the first time I heard a symphony orchestra live was a youth concert with the Chicago Symphony. Nice way to start! I happen to be in a box seat and I was so impressed by the experience. I don’t have specific memories, but every time I play at Symphony Center I think of that first concert and the path that got me to where I am today.

CLAUDIA: Did they have a music program in your elementary school when you were growing up?

NEIL: Yes, I began playing the French horn in 5th grade with a stellar band director.

CLAUDIA: How old were you when you started taking private lessons?

NEIL: 10