TSO Flute Soloist Skips Prestigious Awards Ceremony to Get Married

How can a little flute compete with an orchestra of 70 musicians?

Does she even stand a chance?

This Friday and Saturday night, featured soloist Hillary Kimball will take the stage. John Pew and the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra will accompany her in Bizet's Carmen Fantasy

Hillary is one of the finest flautists in the state of Utah. She teaches flute at Brigham Young University and has been the Principal Flute of the TSO since 2014.

Late Start to Music

Born and raised in Idaho, she began her journey in music later than most. From the age of 12 until 16 she picked up the flute so she could join the school band. She convinced a renowned Idaho teacher to take her on as a special project. 

Hillary Kimball photo.jpg

Her new teacher, Patricia George, told her that she was far behind. She would have to work hard to catch up to other flautists her age.

Because she loved playing the flute, she wanted to catch up to her class mates. She dropped everything and worked and worked on her flute.

Her efforts paid off. Acceptance letters came from important summer programs. She attended these camps and learned from other great teachers. After 2 years of extreme effort, BYU accepted her as a music major. 

1st Prize at National Competition

As a student at BYU it was difficult to get much attention from the faculty. As is the case at most music schools, the faculty tend to pay more attention to their graduate students.

Hillary continued to work hard and apply for competitions. She entered the National Federation of Music Club's competition. 

First she won the regional prize. Then the state prize. Finally, she won 1st prize in the final National round. This got her lots of attention from the BYU faculty and many others!

As a part of the prize, she won the chance to perform as a guest soloist with the orchestra of the National Conference.

Yet, a handsome young man had come into her life right around the same time. He asked her to marry him and the date of the wedding was set for the same weekend as the National Conference. 

It appears that love trumps all else, even great solo performing opportunities!

She married a fine trombonist, Will Kimball. Dr. Kimball is currently Professor of Trombone at BYU.

After graduation they moved to the East Coast to attend Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. They both earned Masters Degrees and studied with world class teachers.

Young Mother Wins Coveted Orchestra Jobs

Over the next several years, Hillary and her family lived in various states. Her husband's education and teaching career took them to Massachusetts, Iowa, Arizona, and Arkansas.

In each new city, Hillary taught either at the local University or in her private studio. She played in local symphonies, competing for paid positions as Principal or 2nd Flute.

When they moved to Arkansas, she heard about an opening with the state's best orchestra. She auditioned and won the Principal Flute position!

But it was only a 1 year gig...

The second year came around and she wanted to audition again for the Principal position. Though she was now pregnant with her 2nd baby. 

She worried that the judges would frown on her motherhood. On audition day, she dressed to hide her pregnancy. 

She knew many of the other flautists who were auditioning. She had attended summer programs with them and competed in the same competitions. 

She worried that she had lost step with these fine flautists due to the attention she was giving to her family. The other players didn't have families. They had dedicated every hour of every day to forwarding their music careers. 

To her delight, she won the audition again! She remained the Principal for 3 more seasons. 

Broken Pinkie Finger at TSO Audition

In 2004, the Kimball family moved to Utah. Her husband began teaching at BYU. The next year, Hillary began teaching part time at BYU. 

She performed with the Utah Valley Symphony for a time but eventually  had to quit. The schedule didn't work well for her and her family.

A friend of hers told her about an opening with the TSO. She signed up to audition excited at the chance to play in an orchestra again.

A few weeks before the audition she fell during a skit at Girls Camp and broke one of her pinkie fingers. The break was so bad she thought she would have nerve damage. She feared she'd never play again.

When it came time for the audition, she could only play with one hand. Due to her injury, she lost the audition to one of her talented Masters students at BYU. 

After one year, her student who had won the position, moved out of state. Maestro John Pew called Hillary and offered her the spot.

We are so excited to have Hillary as one of orchestra members. The Principal Flute is the leader of the entire Woodwind section. It is a crucial position in any orchestra. We rely on her excellent musicality, exception technique and spot on musical instincts. The TSO is so much stronger for having her as one of our most important members.

You won't want to miss Hillary's solo performance this weekend. 

You'll get to hear every facet of a spectacular flute player. The racing runs and scales. The screaming high register. The sultry softness of the low register. All sorts of technical finger-work and breath control.

Get your tickets at the link below. Come on Friday or Saturday at Timberline Middle School in Alpine, 7:30pm. 

Come for a bedazzling performance by one of Utah's finest woodwind players, Hillary Kimball. 

We'll see you at the Symphony!

Dr. Douglas Pew, Associate Conductor