Upcoming Recital: Music for Horns and Organ

pipe-organ-in-church-11288023147MRq2On Tuesday, October 7th, I’ll be performing my annual faculty recital. The venue for this performance will be First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, Louisiana, which has a wonderful pipe organ in the sanctuary. (The image at right is NOT of the organ at First Pres., but rather a stock public domain image.) Two good friends and colleagues will join me on the program; Richard Seiler on organ, and Andrew Downing on horn. Seiler is Professor of Piano at ULM, and a wonderful collaborative artist on the organ as well. Downing is a very active freelancer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and also serves as a District Manager for Music and Arts. Andy and I met several years ago while attending the Brevard Music Center, and have stayed in touch over the years. I’m delighted that he was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to collaborate with me.

Our program will feature several original and arranged works for solo horn with organ, as well as two works for horn duo with organ.  There is a fairly large repertoire of works for horn and organ, and many of them are quite substantial. If you are interested in finding out more about this unique and fun repertoire, as well as some general tips on performing with the organ, I highly recommend a dissertation by Kristen Michele Johns, Original Compositions for Horn and Organ: Performance Problems Unique to the Medium with Discussion of Selected Solutions through Analysis of Representative Works D.M.A. diss., University of Cincinnati, 2006. This very useful document is available for free at the link above.

Here’s our program, followed by some brief notes about each work.

Celebration for Horn and Organ, Randall E. Faust (b. 1947)

Dr. Randall E. Faust is a Professor of Music at Western Illinois University, where he teaches applied horn and performs with the Camerata Woodwind Quintet and LaMoine Brass Quintet. In addition, he has served for many years on the Summer Horn Faculty at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. His many fine compositions for brass have been performed throughout the world and recorded numerous times. Celebration for Horn and Organ was composed in 1974 for an Easter Service at Calvary Church of the Brethren in Winchester, Virginia. This energetic but brief work features incisive fanfares in the horn and powerful chords in the organ.

Missa Muta: Five Miniatures for Horn and Organ, Op. 55, Bernhard Krol (1920-2013)

Bernard Krol’s name is well known among horn players, who have benefitted greatly from his compositions for the instrument. He studied composition in Berlin and Vienna, and performed as a horn player with the Berlin Staatskapelle. The following notes are taken from the album Twentieth Century Works for Horn and Organ (Ralph Lockwood, horn and Melanie Ninneman, organ, Crystal Records, S671, 1985).

Missa muta consists of fragments of the Mass mutated in a kind of spiritual impressionism which to me conveys the spirit of each segment of this ancient ritual. The horn intones a distant chant – melismatic, mysterious. This, since it intones all twelve tones, might be taken as the germinal nexus of the entire work…Krol’s ingenious organ registration provides a vivid foil to the horn’s sonorous cantilena. ~Ralph Lockwood

Meditazione, Op. 117, No. 2, Oreste Ravanello (1871-1938)

From 1897 until his death, Oreste Ravanello was organist at the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padova, having previously played the same role at the famous cathedral of San Marco in Venice. Like Bruckner, he was a child of the church; all his writings were liturgical in nature, and included a periodical for church organists. Meditazione is ternary (trinitarian?) in design with a brief coda. ~Ralph Lockwood, Twentieth Century Works for Horn and Organ, Crystal Records S671, 1985.

Cantabile No. 2 “For You”, Enrico Pasini (b. 1935)

Enrico Pasini was born in Rome, and studied piano and composition from an early age. He attributes his love of the organ to a meeting with the famous organist Ferdinando Germani. Pasini teaches at the Conservatory of Music in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, and is organist at the Church of Santa Rosalia. According to the composer, the Bay of Calamosca, which is located near the church, inspired him to compose the melody in his Cantabile No. 2.

Sesquicentennial Prelude, Randall E. Faust

A more extended work than his Celebration for Horn and Organ, Faust’s Sesquicentennial Prelude was composed in 2004 for Centenary United Methodist Church in Mankato, Minnesota. It takes as its basis the 19th century hymn tune by R. Kelso Carter, Standing on the Promises of God. The reflective opening builds in intensity, leading to a faster, straightforward presentation of the hymn tune. The organ melody is embellished by recurring fanfares in the horn, culminating in one last heroic statement.

Variations on “Divinum Mysterium,” Ronald Arnatt (b. 1930)

Born in 1930 and educated in England, Ronald Arnatt later immigrated to the United States and has since held many professorial and music director positions. He is currently organist and director of music at St. John’s Church in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Variations on Divinum Mysterium is a theme and set of variations based on the 11th-century chant of the same name. Several meter changes reflect the contour of the original chant melody, and the use of stopped (muted) horn creates a variety of timbres. ~Kristen Michele Johns, Original Compositions for Horn and Organ: Performance Problems Unique to the Medium with Discussion of Selected Solutions through Analysis of Representative Works, D.M.A. diss., University of Cincinnati, 2006.

Sinfonia in D, G. 29, Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)/arr. Michel Rondeau

Along with Arcangelo Corelli, Giuseppe Torelli is credited with developing the Baroque concerto and concerto grosso. As a violist, he performed with the orchestra of the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, and composed numerous works for string instruments. In addition, he wrote prolifically for the trumpet, including sonatas, sinfonias, and concertos for one to four trumpets. The Sinfonia in D, G. 29 was originally composed for two trumpets (or oboes) with string and basso continuo accompaniment, but works equally well for two horns and organ.

Deep Inside the Sacred Temple, from The Pearl Fishers, Georges Bizet (1838-1875)/ arr. James Boldin

Predating his famous opera Carmen by over ten years, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers achieved little critical acclaim during his lifetime. However, the work was revived in the late 19th century, and has since become a staple in opera houses worldwide. The plot of the opera centers around two friends, Nadir and Zurga. Act I begins with Zurga recognizing his long lost friend Nadir. The two enter the ruins of a Hindu temple, and reminisce about their love for the same woman, which almost destroyed their friendship. In this duet, by far the most well known excerpt from the opera, Nadir and Zurga pledge to remain loyal friends for life.

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