Horn Symposium Update No. 1

After traveling to Los Angeles yesterday, today was my first full day at the 47th International Horn Symposium, hosted by Andrew Bain and Annie Bosler at the Colburn School. I plan to post daily updates to this website, and while these can’t provide a complete picture, hopefully they will at least give a general sense of the wide variety of events taking place this week.

General Thoughts

  • My general impression upon arriving at the Colburn School was that the symposium was in full swing! I found out at the registration desk that there were over 600 horn players in attendance already. The official registration numbers are not in yet, but suffice it to say that this year’s symposium is very well attended!
  • The facilities, staff, and overall organization at the Colburn School have been fantastic so far. Bravo to hosts Bosler and Bain for putting together a terrific week of lectures, concerts, master classes, and other activities. Everything I’ve attended thus far has run very smoothly, with the transitions between events happening quickly and seamlessly. This is not always the case at large conferences.
  • While a majority of the events at the symposium are held on the Colburn campus, a few concerts will IMG_0917take place in the surrounding area: Disney Concert Hall (seen from my dorm window in the picture at right), The Hollywood Bowl, and other assorted venues. For someone not used to negotiating travel in a large city, this can be a little daunting. However, the symposium hosts have gone above and beyond to ensure that plenty of information is available for those who are unsure of how to get around.
  • This is a very tech savvy symposium, with a great website and several events being live-streamed at http://ihs-live.com.
  • Travel – my experience getting to this year’s symposium was pretty good. Air travel can be challenging with a musical instrument, but I’ve had success with a Marcus Bonna ultralight case. Though this “soft top” case doesn’t offer the same protection as a completely fiber glass one, it does have the advantage of being able to fit either under the seat or in the overhead compartment of many small commercial aircraft, including the Embraer ERJ 145 and similar.

What I did Today

Choosing which concerts and events to attend at an IHS symposium is like picking a meal from a menu filled with only your favorite dishes. There is no way to fit in everything, even though all of the choices look appealing. That being said, I tried to attend a variety of events today, choosing to leave some events a few minutes early to sneak into others. Here’s a rundown on what I attended today, with brief summaries.

  • Lecture: Combining Modern Acoustics: A Horn Player’s Experience and Craftsmanship at Horn Making (Engelbert Schmid) Since I play a Schmid double horn, I was very interested to attend Herr Schmid’s presentation. It was fascinating to hear how his philosophy on horn playing and building has influenced his horn designs over the years. Though others may disagree with his views on horn sound, weight, and general design, I think we could all agree that he executes his horn designs with precision, confidence, and artistry.
  • Lecture: Time Spaces/Sound Spaces/Harmonielehre (Randall Faust) This interactive session was presented by my friend and colleague Dr. Randall Faust of Western Illinois University. Using his own etudes as demonstration materials, Dr. Faust explained various ways that horn players can improve rhythmic and pitch accuracy.
  • Lecture: Low-Horn Playing in a Major Orchestra (Daniel Katzen) This was a very interesting talk, presented by Daniel Katzen, former second horn of the Boston Symphony, and now on the faculty at the University of Arizona. Having never met Mr. Katzen, I wasn’t sure what to expect. He began his session by playing a portion of a Bach Cello Suite in the original key. His playing in the low register was expressive, fluid, and quite impressive! He followed up with some anecdotes and helpful hints based on his 40 year career as an orchestral musician. In addition to being a remarkable horn player Mr. Katzen also has a keen sense of humor!
  • Performance: World Premiere of Gary Schocker’s In Arkadia: Our afternoon performance of Gary Schocker’s In Arkadia for Horn and Harp was very well received, and I’m excited that so many seemed to enjoy the piece. Several people spoke with me after the performance, and expressed interest in performing it themselves. Thanks again to composer Gary Schocker, and to the IHS Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund for helping to make this performance possible!
  • Evening Concert: Frank Lloyd, Jeff Nelsen, Gail Williams, Julie Landsman, Jennifer Montone, Tim Jones, and more! Today finished up with a concert featuring some of the stars of the horn world, playing a variety of virtuosic music. It was particularly interesting to hear so many different sound concepts, ranging from big and warm to clear and distinct. I heard several pieces which were new to me on the first half of the program, including James Stephenson’s Sonata for Horn and Piano (performed by Gail Williams and Kay Kim), and David Ludwig’s Six Haikus for Horn and Piano (performed by Jennifer Montone and Jennie Jung). Though I would have liked to stay for the entire concert, I was already exhausted from a long day and decided to head back to my room at intermission. The upside of leaving a bit early is that I had time to put together today’s report.

Tomorrow will be another busy day, full of many more exciting events. Highlights for me will be checking out some of the exhibit rooms, and attending the LA Philharmonic concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Stay tuned for more updates!

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