The right track

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David Minton/DRC
Jason Lim, director of Denton’s Odysseus Chamber Orchestra, recently won third place in the American Prize in conducting. Lim, a co-founder of the new professional chamber orchestra, is shown conducting during a practice session in May 2012.

Debut season brought attention to new professional orchestra

Odysseus Chamber Orchestra is just starting its second season, but has already nabbed two major prizes for the music it performed in its first.

The professional Denton orchestra earned a pair of third-place awards in the American Prize. The orchestra received third place in the professional orchestra division of the prize, and artistic director Jason Lim was honored in the conducting division.

The American Prize was developed to stand in the gap surrounding the fine performing arts in America. A jury of professional musicians evaluates the contenders, without bias toward the size of cities where the competitors perform.

“I think, for me, it signifies that we are doing something right,” Lim said. “It says that our quality is up there and that we’re doing the work we’re supposed to be doing.”

Lim said he submitted a recording of the orchestra’s performance from last November. The concert featured compositions by Ravel and Schubert and a new piece of music. The concert included guest artist Christopher Deane, a University of North Texas music faculty member, on vibraphone.

“I sent the whole concert,” Lim said. “It was the second concert Odysseus had ever done.”

The musicians saw the semifinalists and finalists they were up against, Lim said.

Lim said he knew the ensemble might deliver a concert worthy of a prize jury during a rehearsal.

“The strings got together to fine-tune some things, and the winds came in for the second rehearsal. When we started on the downbeat, it was like it all came together,” Lim said.

The organization pays its musicians, and Lim said prizes make the new orchestra more attractive to musicians looking to get a gig — especially string players.

“It’s hard to attract string players with the nominal pay we offer, but the prize will make some musicians look our way. And our musicians are excited about this prize,” Lim said. “They’re proud to be part of this group.”

The orchestra has a short list of priorities, he said. The group wants to attract quality musicians, pay them well and build an audience. The orchestra hasn’t sold out the Krum High School auditorium, where it performs.

Odysseus starts the 2013-14 season with a concert sure to bait audiences: a concert with Denton’s two-time Grammy-winning polka band, Brave Combo.

Band founder Carl Finch arranged some of Brave Combo’s music for orchestra, and the band performed it in 2008 with the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra. Lim said locals will get a chance to hear the arrangements in November.

“We need people to come to our concerts,” Lim said. “Right now, our biggest supporters financially are our board members. Building an audience is a real priority.”

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


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