This spring will mark the 6th season of the Northeast Louisiana Horn Ensemble, an ensemble made up of university and high school students, and community members. The group is a lot of fun to conduct, and we always have a good time putting together our programs. It’s one of the rare opportunities I get to actually direct an ensemble, and I look forward to working on my conducting chops each season. One of the challenges with a group like this is choosing repertoire which is both playable and challenging for all of the members. Picking repertoire and assigning parts is not an exact science, but it does take a bit of thought and consideration. With this group I usually like to program two or three fairly challenging pieces, often calling for 8 or 10 separate parts on each. From there we round out the program with 4, 5, and 6-part works. There is of course some doubling among the parts, but this is actually a good thing for the younger players. In assigning parts I try to take into consideration the age and experience level of each player (to the best of my knowledge), as well as rotating around the higher, more taxing parts. In some cases I will assign parts based on what a student might need to work on improving – for instance, reading bass clef. When I think back on my years in school, some of the most challenging music I played was in a horn ensemble. Though frustrating at times, preparing those pieces helped solidify my range, endurance, and many other skills.
Although our program isn’t completely set, I do have in mind some of the pieces for this season’s concert, which will be on Monday, April 8th at 7:30pm. There is a good mix of old and new, consisting of both original works and arrangements.
- Jean Sibelius/arr. Takeshi Takahashi, Finlandia (6 horns) Corniworld Publications
- Traditional American/arr. Steven Mahpar, Shenandoah (7 horns) Mops Music
- Lowell Shaw, Selections from Fripperies (4 horns)
- Gustav Mahler/arr. Marvin Howe, Zwei Blauen Augen (6 horns)
- Giovanni Gabrieli/arr. Verne Reynolds, Cantos No. 2 (8 horns)
- Alfred Newman, John Morris, Elmer Bernstein/arr. Steven Mahpar, Old West Medley (8 horns) Mops Music
- Paul Basler, Harambee (5 horns)
- Tom Kelly/arr. Patrick Hughes, True Colors (12 horns)
What are your favorite works for horn ensemble? Feel free to comment!