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December 1, 2016     Beverly Hills Weekly
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Beverly Hills' Music Man Nick Strimple celebrates his 70th birthday By Madelyn Pariser You've been the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale Music Director since 1998. The 19th annual Adat Ari El choral concert is honoring you on your 70th birthday. What does that feel like? It was quite a surprise. It feels wonder- ful. I'm really honored. I think it's a vali- dation of my work and I also think it's a validation of the values I try to live by. There's a ot of responsibility that goes into something like this. I feel that, as grateful as I am to them for doing this, I can't stop and I have to keep plowing ahead and doing whatever I can to help. The program is comprised of mostly music that I have written for the Jewish community. For instance, [there is] one piece on the program, "Hine Ma Tov" Psalm 133, I [originally] wrote for the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, but the Jewish community internationally has taken it on too. I suspect it's per- formed more frequently by Jewish choirs around the world than it is by other choirs. In the "process of putting the program together, I discovered that over the last 18 years I have actually written more music for the Jewish community than could fit [in] one concert. I was the music director at Beverly Hills Presbyterian for 35 years, and I wrote about two pieces a year for the Church, but I didn't realize how much I was writing for the Jewish community. Tell us about working with the Beverly High Minnesingers in anticipation of the show? We have a long relationship with the music program at Beverly High. My children graduated from Beverly High and my son [David Strimple] sang in the Madrigal Singers. [The late Beverly High Choral Director] Joel Pressman and I were old friends from our days at USC. One of the pieces that we're doing was commis- sioned by the London Youth Choir, and it requires a separate youth choir. I asked [Beverly High Vocal Director] Stacey Kikkawa if the [Minnesingers] could do it because of my connection with them. Stacey is one of the best high school choral directors in Southern California. Beverly High couldn't have found a bet- ter person to [continue] the tradition of excellencey established by Joel. We're very excited about their partici- pation. because survivors started contacting me and they wanted to share their experi- ences. I was just learning the topic myself; nobody else was doing it. Now, I teach two classes on it at USC. [It] was the first university to put in classes dealing specifically with music related to the Holocaust. You're internationally recognized for your work with music related to the Holocaust. Tell us about that. I was sort of drug into this area by rep- resentatives of the Czech government in 1985. Initially, I didn't really know what I was getting into and I was a little reluc- tant to do it. I programmed the music from the Theresienstadt Concentration camp [for] two concerts in Beverly Hills. You teach Sacred Music at USC. What is unique about sacred music? The program at USC is unique because it's a gradU- ate program. Students can focus on either Christian music or Jewish music, some of the courses are taught together. [I teach] a course called "Music of the Great Liturgies," which is an examination of the Jewish liturgies and Your wife, Toni Staser, was a long- time El Rodeo music teacher and administrator for the BHUSD. How has she influenced your career? She's been very supportive. That's the biggest thing. Toni and our kids have been very supportive of what I do. espe- cially the very strange turns of my career. Nobody expected me to get involved with the Holocaust and then with Jewish music on a bigger scale. It just happened. "Toni and our kids have been very supportive of what I do, especially the the Various Christian very strange turns of my liturgies and how they are similar and career. Nobody expected different. We are the only university in the United States, I'm me to get involved with the Holocaust and then with Jewish music on aware of, that is a non a bigger scale. It just sectarian university happened. I'm really glad that offers this kind it did." of degree program. There's something about the use of music when people are trying to approach god that fascinates me, and I think is very important. How has teaching choral music changed over the years? In the United States over the last 30 years, there has been a gradual move away from focusing on the classical rep- ertoire, or what is sometimes referred to as Eurocentric repertoire. The focus is now on music produced all over the world. There is a big push to study music from the Pacific Rim, That created a whole new career countries like Japan, Korea and the Philippines. That's very inter- esting music because it's a combination of elements. The concept of a choir that stands together and performs was brought to these countries from Europe. I think what separates the United States, in terms of choral music education, from Europe is this combination of emphasis on new music from the Pacific Rim com- bined with a continued study of Beethoven and Bach and Brahms. I'm really glad it did. At the time I started working with Holocaust [music], I was doing a lot of work in the enter- tainment industry writing film scores and working as an arranger. I pretty much gave that up when I start- ed really getting involved with the Holocaust music. Even though working with Holocaust [music] is not as lucrative as arranging for Rod Stewart, [my] family still sup- ported me, espe- cially Toni. As the former music director of Beverly Hills Presbyterian Choral Director, what impact do you hope your music has had on the Beverly Hills community? In terms of the churches, I know that I've been gone from Beverly Hills Presbyterian for about three and a half years, and they're still performing my music. I still get occasional emails from people at the church saying one of my pieces was done that morning and they were happy about that. My impact on music in Beverly Hills was probably limited to the church. Toni had a much broader impact, in terms of the community, because of her positions at the schools. I've always thought of Toni as a kind of legend in Beverly Hills. How do you describe Beverly Hills to people outside the City? I tell them we've.enjoyed our lives in Beverly Hills, or in close prgximity to it, and it was a great place to raise our children. - -- Strimp!e's concert will be held a't Adat Ari E1 synagogue on Dec. 9 at 8:15 p.m. Theevent is free and open to the public. Visit: adatariel.org. (Left to right): Nick Strimple, David Strimple, Toni Staser, Courtney Strimple Colman December 1- December 7, 2016 Page 7