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Kyle Champion

Cello

Years with the Redlands Symphony: 33 (26 as principal cello)

Other Musical Groups: Long Beach Symphony

Favorite Composers: I love the rich harmonies of Richard Strauss, even though his music is so incredibly challenging. I love the clarity of Mozart and the passionate energy of Beethoven.

Kyle's Instrument

My personal cello was made especially for me by the renowned luthier Christopher Dungey. At the time he made this for me, he was living in Pocatello, Idaho. Thus, this is my Pocatello Cello! I've had it since 2001.

The late cellist Lynn Harrell also played on a Dungey, and I have a photo of me, Harrell, and a colleague from the Long Beach Symphony with our three Dungey cellos backstage.

Memorable Performances

One of the most memorable performances I've had was with the Oklahoma Symphony, which was the orchestra I played in before moving to the LA area. We played a performance with a local church's gospel choir. The arrangements were terrific, the choir brought their great performance style to the event, and we classical musicians totally fed off that energy. The roof of the church must have lifted 20 feet at the conclusion of that performance!

Another memorable performance experience was a series of concerts at the Bellingham Music Festival, where we played all five Beethoven piano concertos with pianist Garrick Ohlsson. He was playing on an 1876 Steinway which had the most amazing sound. It had to be tuned between each half of the program because of its lack of stability in holding pitch. But the live recordings we did of these performances were really fabulous. They might even still be available on the internet!

Non-Musical Interests

I've always loved trains! My grandfather worked for the Santa Fe Railway for 49 years, and my uncle for around 45. I once went to a model railroad show and got the bug to build my own HO scale layout. I found after having children that I didn't have the space or money to spend on the hobby, but I did a lot of reading about prototype railroading. I came to understand both the equipment and the operations of a railroad, as well as how the history of this country is tied so very strongly to the development of railroads. I have a huge collection of railroad books, I often go out and watch for trains in Cajon Pass or the depot in Fullerton, and I have a telegraph key my grandfather once used, as well as a train dispatcher's sheet on which he entered information during a work shift. I consider these prized possessions.

Biography

A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Principal Cellist Kyle Champion received his master’s degree from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and his bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His teachers have included Ronald Leonard, Marion Davies, Joanna de Keyser and Dottie Barrett. He studied chamber music with Donald McInnes, members of the New Hungarian String Quartet at the Taos School of Music, and with the contemporary music ensemble Voices of Change. He joined the Redlands Symphony Orchestra in 1988, became Principal in 1995, and previously soloed with the Orchestra in 1997 and 2007, performing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.

Other orchestral experience includes Principal Cello of the Riverside County Philharmonic and the Oklahoma City Chamber Orchestra, Assistant Principal of the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra, and a member of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra since 1997. Kyle has also performed with the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria and the Filarmonica de las Americas in Mexico City.

From 1991 to 2002, as a member of the acclaimed American Sinfonietta, Kyle went on three European tours and performed at the Bellingham Music Festival in Washington. He can also be heard on the group’s lauded All-Mendelssohn and Beethoven in Bellingham CDs. A frequent performer of chamber music, he has performed in numerous recitals with colleagues and friends from the University of Redlands, as well as with the cello quartet Quatracelli, of which he is a founding member.

An avid music educator, Kyle is Artist Teacher of Cello at the University of Redlands and Director of the University’s String Project for students from fourth through eighth grades. Additionally, he teaches through the University’s Community School of Music and the Arts, has a bustling home studio in La Verne, and is the String Instrumental Music Specialist at The Webb Schools of California where he also co-conducts the high school orchestra. Highly sought after as an adjudicator, Kyle has judged for numerous competitions, festivals, and programs and is a regular coach with youth symphonies and chamber groups throughout the region. In addition, Kyle has served in many positions with the Los Angeles section of the American String Teachers Association, including President from 2012-2014.

Kyle plays on a modern cello made expressly for him in 2001 by renowned luthier Christopher Dungey.

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