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GL:  After the completion of the piece, the conductor invited you to play some solo pieces on your own for the audience.  I've never seen that in an orchestral setting before.  I can't help but feel that the conductor's enthusiasm for the instrument was responsible for that.   Was this part planned out in advance, or was his invitation spontaneous to the moment based on the audience response?
 
JK: Larry wanted me to do a couple of things on my own.   He's very open minded and enthusiastic and he planned that with me.  There are times when you want to highlight a soloist by having them do an unaccompanied solo, it's done sometimes but you're right, it's not done all the time.     I'm very grateful that Larry wanted me to do that, it was a lot of fun.
 
GL: I notice you played Mouret's Fanfare Rondeau as one of your solo pieces.  I love the  way you play that, your trills & ornamentation are great, but notable to me is your use of the trompette.  When I play I tend to emphasize just the main beats of a song, but you're using the trompette to get almost a counter rhythm to the melody.  It's quite unexpected, but very interesting and musically very effective.  How do you approach the trompette in your playing?
 
JK:  I have so much to learn on the trompette, and would love to study with someone like Nigel Eaton whose trompette playing, I think, is just unparalleled.  He's a wizard on that.    But I find that when I'm playing something like Fanfare Rondeau or Beethoven's Ode to Joy, especially where there's a little bit of a longer note, that's where I start gyrating the crank a little bit to get the counter rhythm, as you say.  I love that idea because I'm playing the whole sha-bang, melody, harmony, and now I've got a little snare drummer with me on percussion.  I really really like counter rhythms.  I approach it that way where there's a longer note especially; say I'm playing a bunch of 1/16th and 1/8th notes, and all of a sudden a quarter note comes up, I'll just throw in the counter rhythm with that to make it kind of polyphonic.
 
GL: Let's get back to your non-public time.  What are your practice habits?    How much time per day, or per week do you spend rehearsing in private?  Describe your regimen to me.
 
JK:  Oh boy, that's something.  I would like to have a regimen to practice, but because I have three to five gigs a day, I just can't count on a regular time to practice. So what I do is I actually use my gig time to practice.  By that I mean right before the gig I'll practice the piece I'm going to play, and then right after the gig I'll practice for the next gig.   It all adds up for the week, so that by the end of the week I'll have a couple of hours of practicing.   In addition to that, during my composing time I'll play the hurdy gurdy while I'm composing, and just the playing of what I'm composing is great practice.  Basically I
don't get as much separate practice time as I would like, I do pull it out for 15 or 20 minute periods at home for practice, but because I'm on the road so much I have to combine my practice time with my performing so I take as many holes in my schedule as possible.   It all adds up. 
 
GL: I'm getting from everything you're saying that the genre of music you tend to play most on the hurdy gurdy focuses around Classical, and maybe a little Baroque.  Is that a fair assessment?
 
JK: I absolutely love Baroque, Classical, and Romantic. I also love folk music, Celtic,  I love holiday music. I’m getting together a whole play list for the holidays.  I love patriotic music too, I play 'My Country Tis of Thee' or the 'Star Spangled Banner'. It just gets people going with the trompette.   I think the hurdy gurdy is so versatile, you can play just about anything on it.  I'm really interested in exploring blues & jazz, even klezmer music on it.  My favorites are Baroque, and anything in the Baroque genre: Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, those would be my favorites.  Folk music too, I love playing 'Amazing Grace' or 'Scarborough Fair'.  That's basically a wide circle of things I do.
 
GL:  When it's time to learn a new song, is there any one single place that you'll reach for new music.  Do you have a favorite resource or archive upon which you draw, or do you play by ear?   How does that part of the process work for you, generating new tunes?
 
JK:  For Baroque, I'll go to written music.  For folk music, Celtic, Christmas, whatever, if I have written music I'll use it.  Often I'll listen to a recording of someone doing it and I'll pick it up, trying to do it my own way.  
 
GL:   You're on your way to a gig tonight right?  What are your favorite songs that you'll playing on the hurdy gurdy tonight?
 
JK:   I'm going to open up with 'We Three Kings', then 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen', then 'Amazing Grace', Scarborough Fair, and then I'm going to end with 'My Country Tis of Thee'.  These are mini-concerts that I'll do within my lectures.    Later on in December I'm getting a playlist together of 10 Christmas songs, and I'm also composed my own called 'When Heaven Came to Earth', which is a hurdy gurdy song.  At some point I'm going to come out with a whole Christmas c.d. of me playing the hurdy gurdy, and that will be the title cut. 
 
GL:  I wanted to conclude by asking about your plans for the future.   It sounds like a Christmas c.d. focusing around the hurdy gurdy; any others?
 
JK:  Absolutely! Several others.  I would encourage your readers to check this out- Horicon Marsh (it's in Wisconsin), and I am so thrilled with this, it's one of the largest wetlands.  I'm doing a c.d. project based on that which will feature the hurdy gurdy playing a major role.  I'm also planning a project inspired by my travels to New Mexico, and I will have a lot of hurdy gurdy in that playing along with a Native American flute.    I've got three hurdy gurdy projects on tap for the next few years, starting with the Christmas one.  In addition to that I also have a book of classical music for the hurdy gurdy which I hope to make available. 
 
GL:  Great! Well Jim, thanks so much for your time.
 
JK:  Thank you for having me.
Interview with Jim Kendros   page 3
 
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Jim is a full time performer in the Chicago area.  Between performances, he can be found offering the preconcert lecture for several orchestras (ongoing), and is currently writing a book of Hurdy Gurdy music.  More can be found at his website : http://jimkendrosmusic.com/Welcome.html
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