47th International Horn Symposium: Final Update and Summary

University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Ensemble Performance. Douglas Hill, conductor

University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Ensemble Performance. Douglas Hill, conductor

With the LA symposium now behind me, I thought it might be nice to post a few random thoughts about the entire experience. These are in no particular order, with a few pictures as well.

  • The atmosphere at the Colburn School was friendly and helpful, making for a very pleasant experience. Los Angeles was perhaps not the easiest city to navigate – especially for us small town folks – but the symposium staff and volunteers went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. Thank you!

    Downtown Los Angeles, as seen from the gardens at the top of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

    Downtown Los Angeles, as seen from the gardens at the top of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

  • I haven’t compared the actual number of lectures, recitals, and other events at IHS 47 to previous symposiums, but my perception was that the pace and sheer volume of activities this year exceeded anything in the past. For me, this was a double-edged sword, and I had to be careful throughout the week to pace myself and carve out time for rest and at least some semblance of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend all of the events that looked interesting to me, especially the screenings of Annie Bosler’s documentary film 1M1: Hollywood Horns of the Golden Years. I missed the very first showing, which happened in the afternoon, and all of the other screenings took place at 11:00 p.m. By the end of the day I had just enough energy to post a quick update and then fall into bed. Perhaps the film can be made available for purchase on DVD or digital download?
  • In an effort to manage the expenses for this trip, I elected to stay in the dorm rooms on the Colburn campus rather than book a hotel. The dorms were clean, spacious, and extremely convenient. Though the dorm experience depends almost entirely on the symposium site, it is an option I would definitely explore for future symposiums. I also heard from quite a few people that Airbnb was a reasonably priced option.

    Front steps of Walt Disney Concert Hall

    Front steps of Walt Disney Concert Hall

  • Social media and other online technology played a big role, mostly with a positive effect I think. The live-streams were much appreciated by those who could not attend the symposium, and facebook, twitter, and other outlets kept the horn world updated on the day-to-day news and events at IHS 47. The issue of photography and filming at performances is interesting to note. All symposium participants signed a disclosure agreement allowing the Colburn School and the International Horn Society to use images from the week’s events, but the symposium program book included a statement asking that audience members not film, photograph, or otherwise record the performers. This rule was largely ignored, and I noticed at least a few people at every concert openly recording large portions of the concert on video. I know of one case in which the person filming obtained permission from the performers beforehand, but it is unlikely that this happened in every case. Furthermore, it is unclear how much legal weight a casual verbal agreement would carry. I am not an intellectual property lawyer, but would offer a quick word of caution to those making bootleg recordings of live performances. Making a recording just for your own personal use is probably fine, but attempting to distribute it online could result in some legal issues, especially if the artist or artists you have recorded are under management.
  • One event that I neglected to mention in my previous updates was a meeting of several IHS area representatives from the United States, coordinated by Elaine Braun. The meeting went well, and my take on things was that membership is good, but could be better. I will definitely be exploring some new strategies this coming year to boost membership in the Horn Society. It is very affordable, and puts you in touch with a great group of people. There are still a number of spots open for area representatives, so if you see a vacancy in your state please consider serving.
  • Low horn playing was featured in a big way at this symposium. Sarah Willis, Denise Tryon, Daniel Katzen, Charles Putnam, and many others showed us that the horn’s low register can be just as expressive and nuanced as the high register. It was nice to see so many younger players exposed to this level of low horn playing.
  • Though I didn’t attend every solo recital, I made it to several, and was particularly interested in each player’s stage presence and positioning relative to the piano. Most of the American players tended to face the bell away from the audience, either at an angle to the piano or with the bell perpendicular to the full-stick piano lid. Many of the Europeans faced the bell towards the audience, standing near the keyboard. There was definitely a difference in sound, though I’m not sure I had a preference for one over the other. Each player seemed to make their positioning work, with varying degrees of clarity and contrast. I’ve always been hesitant to face my bell towards the audience, except when playing solo in front of a large audience, but I plan to experiment with the more direct, “bell-out” placement in the future. Stage presence was interesting to observe as well, and the most enjoyable performances I felt were those in which the players seemed generally relaxed and comfortable on stage. For some this is probably a natural by-product of their personality, but for others this takes preparation and lots of experience.

Again, I extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to Annie Bosler, Andrew Bain, and the numerous volunteers and staff at the Colburn School for hosting a fantastic symposium! Next year’s symposium will be June 13-18, hosted by Alex Shuhan at the Ithaca College of Music. For more information, visit http://www.ithaca.edu/music/ihs2016/.

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Did you know that Annie has been working for YEARS on getting a DVD out the door of M1M? She is still needing more funding (I heard when I asked about it) because there are so many expenses regarding copyrights, etc. She will let us know when it becomes available … I have ‘been in line’ for a few years 😉



Thanks for reading, and no, I didn’t know that Annie had been working on 1M1 for so long! I would definitely be interested in supporting the production if there was a crowdfunding campaign.



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