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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Lois Stout co-founded the Timpanogos Chamber Orchestra after a successful career of her own.

ALPINE — Lois Stout's violin has taken her many places, from learning at the feet of masters to playing for top names in show business.

But for the past dozen years or so she has been sharing her talent with young string players, many of whom are now making their way in the professional world of music.

Now 76, Stout founded the Timpanogos Chamber Orchestra with music teacher Kathy Bird after a successful career of her own.

"I twisted her arm," Stout said.

At age 16 in Duluth, Minn., she played with the Duluth Symphony as the second chair violinist until she entered college. Those were the years following World War II when many professional musicians escaped Europe and settled in America to continue their careers, she said. Among them were Isaac Stern and Raphael Druian, later concert master with the New York Philharmonic. She studied under him at the University of Minnesota.

"I was able to study under some wonderful musicians," she said.

Many of them had relocated in her hometown of Duluth. She also played under Tuano Hannikainen, former conductor from Helsinki in the Duluth Symphony.

"I was always surrounded by such wonderful musicians. We could talk the same language," Stout said.

However, orchestras at that time wouldn't hire women, so after college she filled in as a substitute and then worked as a freelance violinist, including in Baltimore when entertainers such as Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Red Skelton came to town. She was often the only woman in the orchestra.

After moving to Maryland in late 1960s, she worked with young string players along the Eastern Seaboard and in Canada for many years. Then when her children moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University, Stout and her husband, who has since died, soon followed.

"In Utah I saw more talent per inch than any place I'd been," she said.

She contacted Bird at Mountain Ridge Junior High, and the youth chamber orchestra was soon holding auditions and giving the young musicians an advanced experience.

So why does Utah have so much musical talent?

"I think it's the parental support," said Stout's daughter, Lisa Brodie.

The chamber orchestra drew from throughout Utah, and as it grew Stout created a second orchestra and finally a third. Musicians are placed in the orchestra that best fits their talent — senior, junior and midlevel.

Unlike those orchestras, when conductors Stout, Bird and Patricia Pinkston hold their annual summer String Camp Workshop, anyone who auditions can play. The rehearsals are intense, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m. During lunch and breaks they hold a vocal workshop for the students to sing tunes from a wide variety of eras while they rest their hands.

Every winter near Christmas, Brodie, also a violinist, conductor and a singer, and her mother join together to put on Handel's "Messiah" in the Alpine Tabernacle in American Fork. Inspired by the interior architecture of the building, they hire top soloists and bring in strong, local youthful musicians with older players, often their parents, and professionals to create an orchestra. They draw from the community to form the choir. The result is a professional-level presentation.

Brodie once sang the piece in the Kennedy Center in New York.

"I use those techniques," she said.

The concert is their only free event. Patrons usually begin showing up at 5:30 p.m. to get a seat before the 7 p.m. presentation.

"We usually turn away 400 people," Stout said.

"What I love about her is that she is (past) the prime of life and yet she is busiest as she has ever been. It's exciting to do that when you're older," Brodie said.


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