Paul Rene Avril
Updated: Feb 8
April 11, 1951 - October 27, 2018
Paul would have turned 68 this year. He didn’t like the birthday celebration spotlight or getting older, so it would have been low-key, probably beer and burritos at his favorite brew pub.
As I’m looking at our photos and reading the touching messages from friends and colleagues, I am reminded of what an amazing life we had together, Paul and I. There were so many things he was, and that he loved.
Paul was an ARTIST, musician, horn-player and guitarist. As a natural horn player, Paul was one of the best in the world. His family, embroiled in the grind of raising children and making ends meet, often did not recognize the stature he held in the realm of classical music. Words from colleagues express their love and admiration:
beautiful sensitive playing; total coolness; ever-calm presence
wonderful player in every situation
outstanding, clear, so musical
the sweetest horn tone I ever heard
the Horn Corner is where the cool cats with high standards sit, the friendly, solid, surfer rockstar horn dudes, occasionally irreverent, always supportive
mentor and friend, I will cherish all he taught me and his belief in me. I will so miss coming down there to rehearse and work and then go have a beer:)
Paul was serious about his music and music performance, and I always felt a hint of mischief as well as charm when he was around. He had an uncanny ability to appear at the correct place and time, even after long periods of separation. I never heard him say a discouraging word about anyone or anything.
Paul was a professional MUSICIAN for almost 50 years. He received his Bachelor of Music from Boston University. While living in Washington, D.C. he played with “The President’s Own” Marine Band for 7 years, received Master of Music from Catholic University, and did free-lance work until migrating to California in 1988. He bought his first natural horn from Lowell Greer on the cross-country move and began performing with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in 1990. Throughout his career, he also performed with other period instrument ensembles: American Bach Soloists, Portland Baroque, Ars Lyrica Houston, American Classical Orchestra NYC and the Baroque Orchestra of Colorado. In addition to early horn (baroque and classical) he played the valve horn with the Carmel Bach Festival and an occasional Nutcracker Ballet.
Paul was ACTIVE!!!! He was always in motion.
Paul found calm and control through the movement of Tai Chi. He began studying Tai Chi in Washington, D.C. around 1982 and continued his practice right to the end. He would get in a few minutes of Tai Chi with fellow musicians before concerts. I suspect he even practiced in airports.
Paul was a passionate Mountain Biker. He rode almost every day, rain or shine. He lived in his biking shorts. He once told me that one-hour ride was when he could forget all worries and cares and be truly free. He also raced a few times near Laguna Seca, CA. He even won first place in his age group (50+)!!!
Paul loved having fun doing stuff. There are pictures - of him in a wet-suit with boogie board, pitching baseballs to Renee, riding bikes with Marius, hula-hooping with his nephew, trying (failing) to teach me soccer - that remind me that he was always on the go. He had 3 bone-breaking bicycle accidents in the past 12 years, and he would sneak out and go riding weeks before he had a doctor’s clearance. He just couldn’t sit still. Last Christmas we went to a concert and Paul and Marius were walking ahead of Renee and me. Suddenly both boys hopped on a railing and slid down the banister! At his age, still a kid at heart!
Paul was a fantastic CHEF. I always joked when friends came by that we were having dinner “Chez Paul.” Never the same thing twice! And he produced consistently delicious sauerkraut and yogurt. Healthy. None better. And at the grill – the feasts are legendary. “Blow out parties; great slabs of tuna; dandelion juice with champagne; OMG crab!” I myself can now perform nice feats at the barbecue from having watched him delight in playing with fire all these years.
BEER. What needs be said? Paul was a beer AFICIONADO. He loved beer, not just any beer, but beer with flavor and personality and just the right combination of bitter and sweet. I realized recently that the qualities he required in this beverage are the same he required of himself in the tone he produced on his horns. Artistry. And always seeking a better flavor, a more pure tone, always striving for perfection.
Paul was FUNNY. Not hilarious, but sneaky, a trickster. You were never quite sure how he did it but somehow you knew he and maybe others were having a laugh at your expense.
Paul was extremely PRIVATE, and rather old-fashioned that way. He did not burden others with the struggles he faced with his health. He kept to himself the deep and overwhelming responsibility he felt as a father. He was not effusive, but if you earned his respect, you had a loyal friend forever.
Paul was KING OF HIS CASTLE. Paul and I (mostly Paul) fixed every square inch of our house and yard. As I walk through the house, I walk on the flooring he put down. When I look out the windows, I look through windows he put in. He painted. He made all the trim. He finished the attic. He wrestled with the pavers in the driveway for months until it looked beautiful and will last forever. He made planter boxes from the old fence boards that came down when he made a new fence. The lemon tree he brought back from Los Angeles in 1992 is glorious in our back yard. He took such pride in his home. He created it for me and for his children, whom he loved and was so proud of, in his quiet way.
Paul was NOISY. There was always something going on that made noise. Practicing the horn. Listening to his vinyl collection of thousands of records - classical, jazz, rock and roll. Watching the baseball game on TV. And OMG vacuuming! He made more noise than the vacuum sweeper. Even cooking was a flurry of sound.
And I will miss that. And his artistry. And his loyalty. And his love. And his music. And his humor. And his cooking. And his love of exploring. And his spirit. The incessant baseball games on television, maybe not so much! Or his irritating need to be in charge. (He was a 4, an Emperor: gracious leader or control freak!?! it’s a fine line.) But everything else.
The music has stopped. The silence is dreadful. I know he is free.