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Ronald Paul

Ronald Paul helped organize a Saturday night concert that will be a fundraiser for the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival. 

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For Corvallis violist Ronald Paul, one performance of a concerto by Adam Neiman simply would not suffice.

So Paul has arranged for an encore, of sorts, in Corvallis — and the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival will be the beneficiary.

Paul and the Tutti Amici Strings, with Corvallis native Dr. Constance Jackson on piano, will perform Neiman's Concerto for Piano & String Orchestra in a concert Saturday night in Corvallis. Proceeds go to help support the summertime Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, and Paul said ticket sales already have been brisk enough to cover expenses.

The 16-member string orchestra will perform three other pieces during the concert: Carl Nielsen's Intermezzo from his Suite for String Orchestra, Jean Sibelius' Impromptu for String Orchestra and Benjamin Britten's "Simple Symphony." ("You know," Paul joked, "it isn't that simple.")

But it's the Nieman concerto, written in 2012, that's the main attraction — and the genesis of Saturday's concert.

Both Paul and Jackson, a Portland psychiatrist, perform once every couple of years in private concerts organized by violinist Michael Lemmers. Recently, both Lemmers and Jackson were casting about for new works to perform. As it turns out, by coincidence, the two independently came across the Nieman work, and both thought it would be a good fit.

The work was featured in a September concert, and Paul  immediately was sold: "It was so well-received and so much fun," he said. "It's such a lovely piece."

Then he started thinking it would be a shame just to perform it once: "How can I bottle this up?"

He pitched the idea of a fundraising concert for Chintimini to Joan Caldwell, one of the founders of the chamber music festival. Caldwell didn't take much persuading, and Saturday's concert is the result.

Both Paul and Jackson understand that audiences sometimes steer clear of new music, worrying that it will make for difficult listening. But the Nieman piece is "immediately accessible," Jackson said. "To me, it's like a big romantic work."

For Jackson, a graduate of Oregon State University, Saturday night's performance marks the first time she's performed in Corvallis since 1987. As she has built her psychiatry practice, performing chamber music has been a constant. 

"In many ways, I get the best of both worlds," she said. "I don't have to make my living with music. ... I just feel like life is so much richer" with music.

Paul retired from a research and development job with Hewlett-Packard in 2016, but even with that busy career, "I always kept my chops up. I was always planning to retire and then go back to my passion," music.

Jackson echoed the thought: "It's really like doing psychotherapy, in a way. When you play music, it's like you bare your soul."

And chamber music, in particular, is a passion for both Paul and Jackson: "I think chamber music is just a team sport," Jackson said.  

Paul added: "You're meditating. You're always looking for that musical nirvana, and occasionally you get there."


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