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Musician Frost relishes solo role

November 30, 2005

Richard Frost has a relatively new “toy,” a violin made by Italian maker Marco Imer Piccinotti he purchased about six months ago.

“I tried 58 violins, including one that cost $130,000, and this was the best sounding one,” he says. “It took me about an hour, and my wife very patiently sat there and listened with me – she could tell the difference, too.”

Frost felt it was time to splurge on a quality instrument, since he plays with several different musical groups and has been playing the violin since the age of nine.

“It really has made a difference – people in the orchestra notice it – not only does it sound good but it has such a carrying ability,” he says. “It carries much further than most do.”

Frost will be the featured soloist in the Dec. 2 and 4 Sinfonietta concerts at Hood River Valley High School’s Bowe Theatre. He’ll play the Violin Concerto in G Minor by Bruch. (Details below.)

What: Columbia Gorge Sinfonietta.

When: Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 4, 1:30 p.m.

Where: Bowe Theatre, HRVHS

On the bill: The performance will include Mozart’s Impresario Overture; violin concerto in G Minor by Bruch, featuring soloist Richard Frost; and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, “Little Russian.”

Admission is free. The concert is presented by the Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association.

“I worked with Dorothy (McCormick, longtime conductor for the Sinfonietta) on it just before she died,” Frost says. “It’s a major violin concerto and definitely not easy. It’s a beautiful thing – all three of the concertos he wrote are outstanding, but this one is the most popular.”

Bruch wrote the piece in 1857 at the age of 19.

Frost has been a first violinist for the Sinfonietta for the past 11 years. In addition, he is a founding member of the Columbia Quartet, who play at special events, including weddings, grand openings, reunions, showers, dinner parties and others.

He is no stranger to Bowe Theatre – he has played in most of the high school’s musical productions, “hiding in the dark in the pit orchestra” — except for two of them, in which he found himself on the stage.

“I was the Fiddler on the Roof,” he says. “I was up on the roof – there was a ladder on the back of the house and I had one leg over the roof, so it looked like I was sitting on it.” He also played the electric violin in the most recent production, “Seussical: The Musical,” in which the musicians were part of the stage setting.

Frost also teaches the violin, to students “Ages 04-104,” as written on his business card.

“There’s no age limit,” he says. “I’ve had students as young as 3-5 years and as old as mid-80s – and that was someone just starting to learn.” He has students throughout the Gorge.

“One of my viola students moved to Portland, and now is playing second chair for the Portland Youth Symphony,” he says, proudly. “And that’s at the age of 13.”

Frost moved here from Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was a 32-year veteran of the fire department, retiring as captain. He worked as a paramedic and as an instructor of swimming, lifesaving, skin and SCUBA diving. Before that he spent six years in the U.S. Navy.

Now he is Assistant State Coordinator of the Driver Safety Program for AARP in Oregon for Section 11, Zone 1. He has been married for 40 years to his wife, Michele, a nurse practitioner and nursing instructor at CGCC. The Frosts live in Mosier.

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