Thoughts on the 2011 Southeast Horn Workshop

With some great reviews of this year’s SEHW by John Ericson and Travis Bennett already out there, I don’t really have that much to add, other than to echo their sentiments about how well the workshop was run and the exceptional quality of the guest artists and exhibits.  This workshop in particular held sentimental value for me for a number of reasons.  First, it was held on the campus of my undergraduate institution, Appalachian State University.  Furthermore, the SEHW was last held at App. State in 2002, the final semester of my senior year, which also happened to be the same semester I started dating my future wife!  Although I have visited ASU several times since graduating, being on the campus for  this particular event brought back lots of wonderful memories.  And finally, my parents live within an easy driving distance, so they were able for the first time to hear me perform on one of the Regional Artist Recitals.  In fact I ended up staying with my parents instead of booking a hotel, which was very convenient.

The first event I was involved with was judging part of the college solo competition on Friday morning.  Professor Charles “Skip” Snead of the University of Alabama also judged this event, and it was  great getting to work with such an experienced teacher and adjudicator.  There were several excellent performances, and congratulations to all who participated.  This particular round of the competition was unaccompanied, with the following repertoire choices:

  • Sigurd Berge, Horn-Lokk.
  • Otto Ketting, Intrada.
  • Bernhard Krol, Laudatio.
  • Steven Winteregg, Blue Soliloquy [Pasticcio Music]

Of these, Laudatio was by far the most popular work, with a few performances of Intrada and Horn-Lokk interspersed.  I personally would have liked to hear the Winteregg since I’m not very familiar with that work – I will have to check it out sometime.  Thinking back over the performances, I’ve put together a few general comments.

  1. Even in a closed audition, stage presence matters.  Athough you may be performing for two judges with no one else in the room, it’s still worth thinking about how you carry yourself both entering and exiting.
  2. Flashy technique is good, but not at the expense of musical line.  Ideally, you want to strive for solid technique and a convincing musical interpretation.
  3. Only play as loudly as you can play and still keep a good core to the sound.  Although I think it’s very important to go for huge contrasts, especially in unaccompanied works, I would not recommend going beyond your personal volume limit in an audition or competition situation.
  4. The “right” interpretation is one you are totally confident about and can best sell to the audience.  Although it could have easily gotten boring listening to the same piece over and over, I was fascinated by the multiple interpretations and approaches I heard. Whatever you do, be committed to it – avoid a tentative or bland interpretation.

My Friday afternoon lecture on teaching young horn players went well, with about forty in attendance.  It was a good group, with plenty of thoughtful questions and feedback.  For those who may have been unable to attend the lecture (there were lots of great things going on at the same time), or anyone else interested in this topic, you can download the handout here.

The regional artist performance on Saturday also went well, and as I mentioned before I was very pleased that my parents were able to attend. All in all, this was another great workshop, and I’m already looking forward to the next one, which will be hosted by Dr. Jeremy Hanson and the Horn Studio at Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, TN, March 2-4, 2012.  [Updated on March 9, 2011 – thanks to Catherine Roche-Wallace for the photograph of my performance.]

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