Lucinda Breeding: Busking its way to greatness

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Odysseus Chamber Orchestra, a recently formed nonprofit professional Denton ensemble, is pictured during its inaugural concert at Krum High School Auditorium.

Odysseus Chamber Or-chestra is already hustling into its second season, and artistic director and conductor Jason Lim has enough ideas for the next three.

The nonprofit professional chamber orchestra performed its inaugural concert last May.

“Artistically, musically it came out really well,” Lim said. “Because of our limited resources, we only had three rehearsals, the winds only had two.”

Odysseus Chamber Orchestra is an ambitious project. Denton has experimented with chamber orchestras in the past, but Lim’s plan has one major difference: The musicians will be paid.

“When you don’t have a big budget, you can’t have as many rehearsals as you’d like,” Lim said.

The conductor won’t let cash flow keep him from pursuing the orchestra as a growing presence in Denton’s constellation of music groups and performers.

That’s why he launched a Kickstarter campaign. Using the website’s raise-it-all-or-get-nothing digital fundraising platform, Lim hopes to match the funds already in the bank to pay the players for the Nov. 30 concert.

The concert will feature guest artist Christopher Deane, a percussionist and a professor in the music faculty at University of North Texas. Deane will perform Emanuelle Sejourne’s Vibraphone Concerto. The orchestra will perform Breath, a commissioned work by local composer Brad Robin. The concert will also include Ravel and Schubert.

Odysseus Chamber Orchestra hopes to raise $2,000 by Oct. 14 through the online fundraiser.

“That would pay for a portion of the musicians’ pay,” Lim said. “We came together and asked the musicians if they would be willing to donate some of their services for the concert so that we could do everything we want. Almost all of them said they would.”

When local indie musicians launch a Kickstarter campaign, they usually try to drive backers to a specific amount by offering incentives for the support. For instance, the backer of a rock band might get a signed copy of the album for giving $50.

Lim said that any backer who invests $1,500 will get reserved seating at the concert, mentions on the group’s website and in the program, and the services of a string quartet from the orchestra to play at the personal event of the backer’s choice.

Even as he juggles the fundraising campaign with directing duties, Lim has already developed a concert for the whole family. The orchestra will accompany Denton City Contemporary Ballet in several performances of Peter and the Wolf, Sergei Prokofiev’s story — told by both a narrator and the orchestra — about a young boy who lives with his grandfather in the clearing of a forest. Young Peter has to test his valor against a savage and cunning wolf as it terrorizes the animals who live near the house.

Lisa Racina, artistic director of the ballet, will choreograph a ballet that she’ll set on members of her company. The concert and ballet are scheduled for performances in April.

Take note, parents and grandparents: If your children and grandchildren love The Nutcracker, they’ll enjoy Peter and the Wolf. Lim said the program includes Saint-Saens’ “The Carnival of the Animals.”

The piece is a favorite of both music teachers and young children, and it is often produced with Peter and the Wolf.

With the Prokofiev and Saint-Saens pieces known for charming children, Lim said he’s got his eye out for music that young adults might like.

“I’d like to go after a younger audience,” said Lim, adding that he’s still learning how to navigate social media. “I’m trying to think outside the box. If the orchestra did a pops concert, what band would we play with?” (Hares on the Mountain? We’re looking at you. And a chamber orchestra would sound luscious with the Denton-Seattle duo Ormonde. We can hear the string section swelling already.)

The orchestra has civic responsibility in its DNA, Lim said. Performances will regularly benefit Denton’s social service nonprofit agencies.

“A lot of people talk about doing things,” Lim said. “I want to make sure that I don’t just talk. I want to do.”

For a closer look at the orchestra, visit its official website www.odysseuschamberorchestra.org. To learn more about the orchestra’s fundraising campaign, visit http://kck.st/NHI3xD.

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877. Her e-mail address is cbreeding@dentonrc.com.


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