Arts & Entertainment

Hanford High students to get chance to learn from the best

Internationally known flutist Jim Walker comes to the Tri-Cities next week to perform at Hanford High and conduct student workshops.

You might not know Walker by name, but you've heard his music on more than 600 movie soundtracks, including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Incredibles, Titanic, Star Wars and Schindler's List.

Though he loves the flute, it's not his only instrument.

"I had a ball with the snare drum in the marching band (in high school), lead alto in the jazz band and bari and tenor sax in a rock band," he said via e-mail this week. "I've also really enjoyed playing the ethnic flutes in lots of movie soundtracks during the past 25 years."

Walker is coming to Hanford High at the request of two of his former students, Hanford band directors Mike Bryan and Kevin Swisher.

"Mike and I played with (Walker) while working on our master's degrees (at American Band College), so I asked him if he would come and play at our pops concert," Swisher said.

Walker was happy to oblige.

"I do love teaching very much and see that it will always be a part of my life," he said. "And having my students starting to fill the jobs around the country now is truly thrilling.

"But there's nothing like live performance and the chance to reach an audience with your communication of the moment."

The concert starts at 5:30 p.m. May 19 in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $8 in advance or $12 at the door. They're available at Ted Brown Music off North Columbia Center Boulevard or the Richland Bookworm store.

Walker started playing the flute at 10. He said his dad was a band director who played a mean jazz clarinet but also owned an old flute from his college days that he offered to his fourth-grade son.

"I said OK without any real thought, and after two tough and discouraging weeks, I started to make good progress," Walker said. "Enough to keep me going for 56 years."

He says the act of playing an instrument offers instant gratification.

"The more skills one has, the more fulfilling the act is," he said. "It becomes an outlet for expression far beyond what I am able to do with words, either written or spoken."

The greatest aspect of playing an instrument is collaborating with other musicians, he says.

"The interaction and mutual encouragement that occurs in rehearsals and performances give the kind of spiritual and emotional rewards that are hard to find elsewhere," Walker said.

Swisher and Bryan are thrilled their students will have some precious musical time with Walker.

"We were looking for ways to help the school district save some money by cutting back on traveling to festivals out of town when the idea of contacting Walker came up, " Swisher said.

"Bringing in professional musicians to work with the kids and having a concert that will hopefully raise the money to help pay for it seemed like a good idea. We're hopeful to break even on ticket sales," he added.

Walker will not only perform with Hanford High's music students but also will conduct three workshops with students, Swisher said.

"The students will accompany Mr. Walker on almost every piece he plays at the concert," Swisher said.

Walker also will hold a flute clinic that's open to the public from 7:30 to 9 p.m. May 18. There is no charge.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;