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nearly as rock and roll. I couldn’t believe these guys wanted to do this kind of stuff. They were really gutsy to do it.” On February 12, 2000, the two original symphonies were performed at the Scottish Rite Theater. The years that Reynolds and Stopschinski had spent playing in clubs paid off. Even the balcony was filled, but it wasn’t the usual symphony crowd. Hipsters and musicians, decked out in their vintage suits and dresses, came out of the woodwork to mingle with the professors and aficionados. The symphonies created such a buzz that South by Southwest, the yearly music industry festival, asked them to do a repeat performance to coincide with the festival. The effect on the composers was tremendous. Says Stopschinski,”I was really surprised that people gave a damn that we did this kind of stuff.” The two immediately embarked on a whole series of performances ranging from chamber music, concertos, brass and percussion ensemble, and bassoon quartets to concerts for solo trombone and solo clarinet. The series became so popular that it acquired its own title: the Golden Hornet Project. When Randy Harriman, program director at KMFA, stumbled upon one of the shows, he was surprised to find a large crowd of young people “sitting around, drinking beer, and listening to chamber music.” He recognized an opportunity to reach a new audience and enlisted Reynolds and Stopschinski to create a show called “Classical Crossover”. In a sense, the radio show is a culmi. nation of their entire project: the merger of underground and classical music. In addition to giving a name to the kind of musical exploration they’re doing, it allows them to seek out other musicians who are treading on similar ground. For Reynolds it’s a matter of course that musicians should be composing for themselves. “Players in an orchestra have choice about very little… they’re taught not to put. their individual mark on a line, unless it’s a solo. It makes me wonder what the emphasis was for becoming a musician if you’re going to dedi cate your life to it and then not have the power to express.” Many musicians who grew up playing classical have jumped ship for that very reason. They see the rigid formality of classical playing as too limiting. Increasingly, groups have emerged that combine classical elements with cues from other more popular genres. San Francisco’s Tin Hat Trio ranges from chamber music to bluegrass to tango. The group Rachel’s composes everything from standard string quartets to orchestral pieces that include electric guitar, drum kit, even musical saw. The German group, Alles Wie Gross, promotes what it calls “chamber rock” in which a tight rhythm section of drums and bass lays down solid rock grooves while a string quartet flies over the top with different levels of intensity. Many of these musicians are refugees from the classical scene. Some are just ambitious punk rockers. But, most importantly to Reynolds, they’re all composing original classical music. Even within this musical vanguard, the Golden Arm Trio continues to push the envelope. Plans are in the works for a second symphony, a concert for string orchestra, and, yes,. even an opera. The group is also taking steps to ensure its legacy. Golden Arm Trio is venturing where few bands dare to go. They’re taking it to the kids. The new Austin Lyric Opera building is a bold, postmodern assembly of earth tones and polished steel. It suggests .a contemporary approach, to opera, an approach accentuated by their recent ad campaign which features copy like, “Sex, violence, sword fighting., A night at the opera.” But on a balmy day last. spring, the building hosted a performance of a more innocent sort: a children’s piano recital. For the first Golden Hornet children’s music recital, Reynolds and Stopschinski had composed an entire program of children’s music for the piano. A cast of about 20 local children, ages five to sixteen, were on hand to perform it. With the exception of one high-schooler, the young performers were the students of Golden Arm alum Laura Phelan. Piano recitals can be pretty nervewracking, especially for the performers, but for the most part, the kids seemed confident if a little nonplussed at the bizarreness of some of the music. Only once did a performer, a mortified eightyear-old girl, abandon the piano in the middle of the piece. Many of the compositions had been named by the students themselves, and the program featured selections ranging from “The Crab” to “It Just Makes Me Giggle,” which, appropriately enough, elicited several giggles from the young crowd. The show ended with David Lewis, a Westlake High School student, performing a largely improvised piece along with Reynolds and Stopschinski, the three of them tagging in and out until,. at the end, all six hands were banging away at the keyboard. It was a rousing finale, with plenty of flair and excitement. After the show, everyone gathered to eat cookies baked by Reynolds and Stopschinski. A couple of kids wandered over to the piano to plink away, and in no time, Reynolds had joined them, occasionally lifting them to pluck the strings in the back. For Reynolds it was a brief return to the carefree days of his mom’s day care.Very brief. A week later, the Golden Arm Trio would set out on a 25-day tour, piling into the Golden Arm van with an arsenal of instruments and self-produced recordings, and driving the entire perimeter of the country. They were scheduled to play in a .few galleries and theaters, but mostly in clubsbecause even with -all ‘the chamber music, symphonic music, and classical crossover, these .guys are still yery*roek and roll. And what would they be listenifig to.on the road? Says . keynolds, “Predominantly Merle Haggard ‘and Prokofiev.” Chad Nichols’ is a Musicieth and freelance writer living in AuS tin.7iVo Golden Hornet symphonies will be performed Oct. 6 at the Austin Lyric Opera Building. 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9128101