I apologize for my somewhat sporadic posts of late – things have been pretty busy around here! I spent much of last week in rehearsals with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra for their season’s opening concert. The program included Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Knoxville: Summer of 1915 on the first half, and Mahler’s Smphony No. 1 on the second half. I got to play 6th horn on the Mahler, and had a great time. The horn section rose to the challenge, and I think the whole concert came off very well. The SSO is a wonderful orchestra, but like many similar organizations around the country has faced its share of economic challenges. Saturday night’s concert marked the orchestra’s official return after a prolonged, and sometimes tense, period of negotiations between the musicians and the orchestra’s management. As an occasional substitute player I am glad to see the orchestra back in action, and wish the musicians and their audiences many more years of fabulous performances. For much more information on the orchestra’s contract negotiations, check out the website of Orchestra Players United of Shreveport-Bossier, the SSO musicians’ official organization, and the blog of Susan Rogers, longtime 2nd Horn in the SSO and a well known orchestral player in this area. The above picture of the Mahler section is linked from her blog [Back row, L to R: Craig Pratt, James Boldin, Jeff Taylor, Thomas Hundemer. Front row, L to R: Susan Whipple Rogers, Angela Bagnetto-Finley, Kristine Coreil, Judith Causey]. I don’t really have too much to write about the Mahler except to say that it was a joy to play in such a great section. I’ve performed the piece twice before, once at Brevard Music Center, and again at the Las Vegas Music Festival, and those were wonderful sections as well! Thinking back over those two previous performances, Saturday’s concert shared a couple of things in common with them: 1) The section had very fine leaders in their principal horn players. Dr. John Ericson (Associate Professor of Horn, Arizona State University) played principal on the Brevard concert, Charles Kavaloski (retired Boston Symphony Principal Horn) played on the Las Vegas concert, and Thomas Hundemer played on the SSO concert. All three of these players showed tremendous endurance and musicality in their playing, and generally helped to ensure that their horn sections sounded their best. 2) There is something very special about playing in a big horn section, especially on a piece like the Mahler. I don’t know how else to describe it except to say that it’s really a wonderful feeling when everyone’s playing well and laying things down. Speaking of great performances of Mahler 1, be sure to check out Christoph Eschenbach leading the Orchestra de Paris in this live performance presented for free on Medici TV.