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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth Of July: When The Piccolo Gets To Shine

Jim Walker plays the piccolo. (www.jimwalkerflute.com)

Jim Walker plays the piccolo. (www.jimwalkerflute.com)

Fourth of July means we’ll be hearing a lot of John Philip Sousa’s famous military march “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

The big highlight comes toward the end, when the piccolos in the orchestra stand and let loose over the rest of the orchestra.

But imagine being the piccolo player who has to play that part over and over.

“The first time I played it was in the seventh grade,” Jim Walker, the retired principal flutist and piccolo player for the Los Angeles Philharmonic told Here & Now.

Walker guesses he’s played the piccolo solo hundreds of times, “probably approaching thousands.”

The piccolo is much smaller than the flute, and harder to play. As a result, many flutists don’t enjoy playing the piccolo, and don’t especially enjoy playing the solo from Stars and Stripes Forever. But Walker relishes it.

“It really always was incredibly fun for me,” he said. “It’s a cool piece. It’s difficult actually. It’s not something you just kind of toss off.”

And Walker added, “How often, when you’re a member of a symphony orchestra, do you get to stand up while you’re playing?”

Guest:

  • Jim Walker, retired Los Angeles Philharmonic flute and piccolo player.

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