Caruso Journal: Week 4

This week marks one month of daily practice with the Caruso Routine. I hope this journal can serve as a resource for others who are interested in these studies, and if nothing else, it can be a brief diversion from the twenty-four hour news cycle. Here are links to the previous posts in this series: Week 1Week 2Week 3.

In week 4 I started the Harmonic Series exercises, and rather than adding them to my daily routine, swapped them in for another similar, but non-Caruso pattern. My understanding, however, is that like much of the work we do on brass instruments, the exercises themselves are not as important as the way they are performed. These Harmonic Series exercises are very similar to ones I’ve done many times before, but in the context of Caruso’s method the approach is slightly different. The constant feeling of subdivision seems to change the overall feel, for one thing. One note is that I increased the tempo marking of quarter=60 to 80 in order to make it through each line in one breath. There aren’t any written instructions specifying this, but in Julie Landsman’s YouTube videos her student plays each line a bit faster than 60 and also in one breath. Some days they feel better than others, but as this was only my first week with them I am not too worried about the inconsistency. The previous patterns (Six Notes, Lips/Mouthpiece/Horn) have gotten much more consistent with repeated practice.

One other thing I’ve been thinking about in regards to Caruso Studies is that my unfounded perception of them before this undertaking was that they were exclusively “high note studies.” This perception has been proven false, and I’ve found all of the exercises up to this point to be very well balanced, incorporating both work and rest. In fact, in her Practice Calendar, Ms. Landsman doesn’t recommend beginning the “Heavy Lifting” exercises until the third month, and even then she suggests practicing them every other day.

 

Semester Wrap-Up and Summer Plans

With the submission of final grades, this unprecedented spring semester is now behind me. For students and colleagues at other institutions who may still have a few more days or weeks to go, hang in there! I’m extremely proud of our students for their resilience and flexibility, and honored to be working with such dedicated faculty and staff. They truly went above and beyond to help our students be successful.

As we move into the summer, I’ll be shifting gears a bit and working on some longer-term projects as well as a few smaller things. One major undertaking is learning to use several apps in the Adobe Creative Cloud, including InDesign, Premiere Pro, and Audition. I’ve had experience with similar software, but this will be my first in-depth look at Adobe’s apps. So far I’ve been very impressed with their power and versatility, and look forward to learning more. I also have plans for another book with Mountain Peak Music. It’s still in the planning stage, but I hope to knock out a large portion of it this summer.

In my own horn playing, I’ll continue to work with the Caruso Routine, as well as various etudes, solos, and other repertoire to keep in shape. One new series that I’ve really enjoyed is Jim Stephenson‘s Maytudes. The composer’s description is below:

A French horn etude project in consultation with Gail Williams, with one etude created every day during the month of May, 2020. Subscribers would receive a new etude in their email box every day, for their own private “world premiere!”

It’s a really cool idea, and the etudes are very well-written, but tough! I’ve recorded a video of the first one (with the composer’s permission), and plan to record more as I’m able. It takes me about a week to learn each one. If you are looking for a good summer practice project it may still be possible to join the Maytudes project. Contact the composer directly to inquire.

In addition to the above, my plans are to continue to enjoy spending time at home with my family. This extra time with loved ones has been a bright spot in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Hopefully stay-at-home restrictions will ease throughout the summer, and we will be able to safely venture back into public spaces. If you’ve read this far, thank you! and best wishes for a safe and restful summer.

 

Semester Preview: Spring 2020

Our spring semester is in full swing, and we have lots of great events happening in the brass area over the next few months. Here is a representative, though not exhaustive, list.

  • February 3-4: Scott Hartman Residency Professor Hartman has been on the faculty of Yale University since 2001, and was a member of the Empire Brass for many years. He will be on our campus for a few days, holding several master classes and other sessions, culminating in a recital on February 4. The ULM brass faculty will be joining him on a couple of pieces.
  • February 17-18: Composer-in-Residence, Douglas Hedwig I first encountered the music of Douglas Hedwig through the New Music on the Bayou Festival, and have really enjoyed getting to know his many works for brass. Hedwig is a former member of the trumpet section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and is also an accomplished composer.  My colleagues and I will be performing two large works by him during his residency (details taken from the composer’s website):
    • A Certain Slant of Light (2015): Five-movement, 17 minute work for brass quintet, organ & percussion (1 player).  Inspired by the poem by Emily Dickinson.  Commissioned by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chattanooga, TN.  Premiered on May 4, 2015.  Published by Carl Fischer Music, NYC.
    • Four Third Streams for Wind Quintet (2018).  Premiere, January 27, 2019
  • March 10: Trio Mélange Recital I really enjoy performing with this ensemble, and our recital this spring will include several new works for soprano, horn, and piano. More information in a future post!
  • March 21: Louisiana Horn Day This is the first of what we hope will become an annual event in Louisiana, to foster interest in the horn and to promote membership in the International Horn Society. In addition to a recital and master class presented by our Guest Artist (Dr. Stacie Mickens, Associate Professor of Horn at the University of North Texas), the day will also include Contributing Artist performances, exhibits, and a mass horn choir.
  • March 31: Brass Day Right on the heels of Horn Day is our annual Brass Day, which continues to be a very popular event. This year the Dallas Brass will be joining us as Guest Artists, along with a college student brass ensemble and a high school student brass ensemble. Both groups will have the opportunity to perform with the Dallas Brass on their evening concert. If you are a brass player in the Northeast Louisiana area (or beyond), you do not want to miss this free event!

In addition to the above, there will be numerous other noteworthy performances by our ULM ensembles and various regional orchestras. I hope everyone has a healthy and productive spring!

Eldon Matlick Masterclass and Recital

Dr. Eldon Matlick with Lee Dunford and Neill Roshto, members of the ULM Horn Studio.

The ULM Horn Studio recently hosted Dr. Eldon Matlick – Professor of Horn at the University of Oklahoma – for a masterclass, recital, and several group lessons. It was a treat getting to observe Professor Matlick’s teaching, and to gain some insight into his pedagogy, which I wasn’t familiar with prior to this visit. It’s always interesting and beneficial for my students (and me) to hear familiar concepts explained in fresh ways. Here are a few ideas that stuck out to me from his masterclass and group lessons with our students:

  • Articulation: “The tongue slices through, but doesn’t stop, a never-ending column of air.”
  • Warming up: use air attacks, begin with mouthpiece buzzing, followed by leadpipe buzzing, then move to the horn.
  • Right Hand Position: Put the right hand straight down the middle of the bell, as described in this video by Engelbert Schmid – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6eDD_nz3xo
  • Accuracy – problems often result when the horn is not correctly tuned. The ear and lips are trying to produce a different pitch than the horn is set up to play. This can be corrected by properly tuning the instrument. *See below.
  • Playing the horn should be easy – this is a principle that was clearly evident in Dr. Matlick’s recital performance, which was wonderful. He never once sounded fatigued, despite playing a program with several big works including the Appel Interstellaire by Messiaen and the Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op. 178 by Joseph Joseph Rheinberger . His playing was heroic and very musical, with a vibrant, singing tone.

Speaking of his program, of special interest is the instrument he used for the Rheinberger, a Vienna horn built by Andreas Jungwirth. I believe this was the first time I’ve heard a Vienna Horn performed live, and it was done masterfully. Kudos also to ULM collaborative pianist Justin Havard for his solid work on the difficult piano part. To my ear, the tone of the Vienna horn is smaller and more focused than the standard double horn, warm and liquid at medium to soft dynamics, with a thrilling (but not unpleasant) edge when played loudly. Dr. Matlick also very generously allowed my students to play on his Jungwirth as well as another Vienna horn made by Yamaha during his masterclass. Though the Vienna horn is primarily used as an orchestral instrument in Austria, there are several groups around the world that promote and advocate for this unique instrument. The Scottish Vienna Horns is but one of many examples. With Dr. Matlick leading the charge, perhaps the Vienna horn is poised to become a more popular and viable option for American horn players. Time will tell!

In closing, be sure you check out Dr. Matlick’s videos on YouTube with the University of Oklahoma Horn Ensemble, as well as his two solo recordings on the Mark Records label: Bavarian Horn and The French Connection. All are excellent examples of great horn playing!

Bonus: Here is the procedure Dr. Matlick suggested for tuning the double horn. Fingerings in [] assume a standard double horn, standing in the key of F.

  1. Play third-space C  [T0] (adjust main tuning slide)
  2. Play third-space C [0] (adjust F tuning slide)
  3. Play third-space C [1] (adjust first valve slide on the F side)
  4. Play third-line B-flat [1], then match [T1] (adjust first valve slide on the B-flat side)
  5. Play fourth-line D [0], then match with  [T12] (adjust second valve slide on the B-flat side)
  6. Play third-line B-natural [T2], then match with [2] (adjust second valve slide on the F side)
  7. Play second space A [12], tune, then match with [T12]
  8. Play second space A [T3], tune slightly low (adjust third valve on B-flat side), then match with [3] (adjust third valve slide on F side)

I think these are all the correct steps, but any errors are certainly mine and not Dr. Matlick’s. While this procedure is slightly different than the way I do things, it will certainly work, and is both systematic and thorough. If you haven’t tuned your horn this way before, give it a try!

 

Thoughts on Performing Three Recitals in One Week

My recent recital tour went very well, with enthusiastic and engaged audiences at all three venues. Sincere thanks again to my hosts at the University of Arkansas (Dr. Timothy Thompson) and Mississippi State University (Dr. Matthew Haislip). Although the change in my normal routine combined with lots of driving was a bit tiring, the tour was a great experience, and something that I would happily do again. On the horn playing side, performing the same program three times in one week was not as grueling as it might seem, and my preparation was more or less the same as for any other solo performance. However, I made sure to build in a rest day in between each of the performances. On those days I warmed up for about half an hour, but otherwise did very little playing. I would also add that this recital was a bit shorter than what I might program for a one-off performance, just to provide a little extra cushion in case of fatigue. Things sounded and felt pretty good on all three nights, although I definitely noticed a cumulative effect by the final recital. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to dig deep into each work and take some chances that I might not normally take if I were only performing them once.

If you would like to listen to one of our performances, here are videos from our recital at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. Enjoy!

Nocturno, Op. 73 by Bernhard Eduard Müller

Sonata for Horn and Piano, by Gina Gillie

Romanza for Horn and Piano by Jan Koetsier

Reflections for Horn and Piano, by Paul Basler

Upcoming Recital Program

Lots of exciting things happening this fall as we begin a new semester and academic year. Instead of my usual “Semester Preview,” this time I’ll post separately about individual events as they happen. First up is my annual faculty recital on Monday, September 9, followed by a mini recital tour with performances and master classes at the University of Arkansas (Dr. Timothy Thompson) and Mississippi State University (Dr. Matthew Haislip).  I’ll be joined by a great collaborative pianist, Justin Havard, for a fun and engaging program. It includes a bit of old, but mostly new, music for horn and piano. If you are in the vicinity of any of these performances we would love to see you there!

Here are my program notes.

As a musician, I look to recordings and live performances for inspiration. My first experiences with all of the works on this program were through recordings and/or performances by great artists. It is also worth noting that with the exception of Jan Koetsier’s Romanza, these pieces were all composed by horn players.

Nocturno, Op. 73, Bernhard Eduard Müller (1842-after 1920)

Bernhard Eduard Müller served as second horn in the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig from 1876-1920, and is most well-known today for his two-volume Studies for Horn, Op. 64. Biographical information is scant, though several of his compositions for horn and piano survive. The best of these were recorded by John Ericson of Arizona State University on his album Rescued! (Summit Records). The Nocturno, Op. 73 is a compact but well-crafted piece in a thoroughly Romantic style. The range and technical difficulties are modest, making it accessible to younger players.

Sonata for Horn and Piano, Gina Gillie (b. 1981)

Gina Gillie is an Associate Professor of Music at Pacific Lutheran University, where she teaches applied horn, aural skills, and composition. She performs with two faculty ensembles at PLU, the Camas Wind Quintet and the Lyric Brass Quintet, and is active as an orchestral and freelance performer in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to her distinguished teaching and performing career, she is an accomplished composer, and has received numerous commissions for solo and chamber works. Her music is published by RM Williams, Brass Arts Unlimited, and Veritas Musica. The Sonata for Horn and Piano was commissioned in 2017 by Steven Cohen, and is featured along with several other new works on his album Cruise Control: Horn Music from Five Emerging American Composers (Siegfried’s Call). Gillie balances tradition and innovation throughout this significant three-movement sonata, simultaneously paying respect to the great horn works of the 19th and 20th centuries, while displaying her own unique voice. The first movement, with its contrasting themes and sonata-form construction, masterfully assimilates the German Romantic style. An ascending sixth motive figures prominently, and is transformed in various ways in the following movements. Gounod provides the inspiration for the second movement, a Mélodie in the French style. Gillie is especially gifted at writing beautiful melodies, and crafts long-breathed phrases worthy of the French master. The ascending sixth motive from the first movement is transformed again for the rollicking finale, a Rondo in Afro-Cuban style. This challenging but idiomatic work is great fun!

Romanza, Op. 59/2, Jan Koetsier (1911-2006)

Though relatively little known in the United States – except among brass players – Dutch-born composer, conductor, and professor Jan Koetsier is well-regarded throughout Europe, and especially in Munich, Germany, where he served as professor of conducting at the Hochschule für Musik for many years. As a composer he devoted much of his efforts to brass and wind instruments, and seemed especially interested in developing the repertoire for unusual or under-utilized combinations of instruments. As the title suggests, the Romanza, Op. 59, No. 2 (1972) showcases the lyrical qualities of the horn. In this brief yet effective work, a contrasting scherzo-like central section is framed by a beautiful melody in the outer sections. The Romanza has been recorded numerous times, and an especially beautiful interpretation can be found on the album Deep Remembering by Gail Williams (Summit Records).

Reflections for Horn and Piano, Paul Basler (b. 1963)

Paul Basler, Professor of Music at the University of Florida, is one of the most well-known contemporary composers for the horn. His works have been recorded and performed around the world to critical acclaim. Reflections for Horn and Piano was composed in 2006, and is dedicated to Manuel de Jesús Germán. In the composer’s words, Reflections is “an intensely emotional (and personal) composition and can be considered the ‘sequel’ to Basler’s Canciones for horn and piano and Lacrymosa for two horns and piano.” The five movements each have descriptive titles indicative of style and emotional content, which span a wide range. Basler explores the full range of human emotion, including joy, sorrow, anger, and, ultimately, acceptance. It is one of Basler’s most popular works, and was recently recorded by Patrick Smith for the album Reflections: Horn Music of Paul Basler (Siegfried’s Call). Another particularly inspiring performance of this work was given by Gina Gillie and Richard Seiler in October, 2015 at the University of Louisiana Monroe.

Performance Video: Neuling Bagatelle

The Bagatelle for Low Horn and Piano by Hermann Neuling (1897 – 1967) has long been on my bucket list of solo works, and luckily I’ve had the opportunity to perform it a couple of times in the last few months. Most recently, I performed it for a “Horn Fest” concert organized by my colleague and friend Thomas Hundemer, Principal Horn of the Shreveport Symphony. If you’d like to listen to that performance, the YouTube video can be found at the end of this post. *The video quality is grainy because I stationed the camera at the back of a large church sanctuary and zoomed in.

If you aren’t familiar with Hermann Neuling or his works, check out this great thumbnail sketch by Dr. Jason Michael Johnston of the University of Idaho. It’s also worth noting that three of Neuling’s etude books, including the famous 30 Special Studies for Low Horn, are now available as PDF downloads through qPress. If you’ve listened to or played the Bagatelle, you know that it presents some challenges in both technique and flexibility. It is fun to play, and makes a great addition to a recital program. One interesting point is the horn’s pitch on the dotted eighth-note in the fourth beat of measure 23 (10 measures after rehearsal 1). See below for an image from the score,  © 1956, Pro musica Verlag Leipzig.

© 1956, Pro musica Verlag Leipzig

If you look closely, there is a pitch discrepancy between the horn’s written E natural (concert A) and the piano’s A-flat, both on the fourth beat of measure 23. The E natural in the horn sounds ok by itself, but will definitely clash with the piano’s A-flat! Harmonically, the horn’s note needs to be an E-flat, and is performed as such in the recordings I’ve heard.

If you’ve not taken a look at the Bagatelle, consider programming it in the future as it is a challenging and rewarding work!

Goings-on Going on this Summer…

51p4EQDkYPL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_This will be an interesting summer for me, as I won’t be attending any major conferences. Instead, I have been and will be spending my time engaged in various projects here in town, as well as visiting relatives and friends in North Carolina.

New Music on the Bayou held its fourth annual summer festival last week, and as always it was a fantastic celebration of contemporary composers and their works. Mel Mobley and I performed the world premiere of Ken Davies  Crystal Kaleidoscope for horn and marimba, and Black Bayou Brass performed Finding Resolution, a brass trio by Brandon Dicks. *NB: Because of severe weather, we were not able to perform the premiere of Davies’ piece back in April. However, our performance at New Music on the Bayou went very well.

During the month of June I am teaching a course for our new summer Master of Music Education degree. We are very excited to be offering an MME program, and enrollment for this first session has exceeded our expectations. My course is Applications of Music Technology, and is designed to introduce music educators to a variety of technologies they can incorporate into their classrooms and rehearsal halls. Having taught an undergraduate introduction to music technology course for the past several years, I had a good foundation to begin developing the course. However, I obviously wanted to make it different from the undergraduate level class, as well as tailor it to meet the needs of current educators. After some searching, I decided to use a book by Scott Watson, Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity. Although it was published in 2011, much of the material on technology is still relevant, but even more valuable is the pedagogical and philosophical approach. I highly recommend it!

This summer I’ll also be working with the IHS Online Music Sales editorial team (Gina Gillie, Dan Phillips, Daren Robbins, and Jeffrey Snedeker) to prepare and make available in digital format numerous works by Douglas HillThe Music of Douglas Hill Collection on the IHS site already has several of Hill’s compositions and method books, and we plan to add more very soon. Perhaps the most significant of these is a digital version of  Extended Techniques for the Horn, complete with the original audio examples composed and performed by the author. For more information on this project (and much more), check out this interview with Doug in the June 2019 IHS E-Newsletter.

After June I’ll be teaching an online music appreciation course, and preparing for a recital tour this September to several universities. I’ll post more on this as the fall gets closer, but the program is going to be a mix of both old and new, including works by Gina Gillie, Paul Basler, Hermann Neuling, Jan Koetsier, and B. Ed. Müller.

 

Upcoming Performance: Crystal Kaleidoscope for Horn and Vibraphone by Ken Davies

IMG_20190320_141315964In addition to the Dana Wilson song cycle performance mentioned in my earlier post, I’ll be performing another brand new work in April at the Society of Composers, Inc. Region VI Conference at Texas A&M University—Commerce. The composition is by Ken Davies, and is entitled Crystal Kaleidoscope for horn and vibraphone. My colleague Mel Mobley and I commissioned it with assistance from the International Horn Society’s Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund. This is a fantastic initiative by the IHS, and well worth applying for and supporting! As of this writing, the fund is on hiatus from January 2019 through December 2019. Be on the lookout, however, for future funding opportunities.

Getting back to Crystal Kaleidoscope, Ken Davies is a very fine composer, and the works I’ve performed by him have been interesting and rewarding to play. The horn and vibraphone combination is pretty unique, and there are only a handful of other works in the repertoire for horn and mallet percussion, let alone this specific instrumentation. The first one that comes to mind is HornVibes: Three Duos for Horn and Vibraphone, by Verne Reynolds. For more information on this and other works for horn and mallet percussion, refer to Dr. Casey N. Maltese’s A Performance Guide of Selected Works for Horn and Mallet Percussion, D.M.A dissertation, the University of Miami, 2011. In my estimation, Crystal Kaleidoscope holds up very well when compared to the Reynolds, though it is quite different. Here is the composer’s note:

Look into the kaleidoscope. See the variously shaped colored crystals, their reflections producing continuous changing patterns. Each crystal has a unique structure, shape, and color—its own symmetrical, ordered, three-dimensional aggregation of atoms or molecules.

As the title suggests, this work is based on “crystals.” Though the sectional sub-titles may be whimsically named for gemstones, the musical crystals are pitch sets consisting of a few notes which are spun out into transformed patterns of melodic and harmonic variety. While the theorist/musicologist may want to delve into set analysis, I hope that others may simply enjoy the aural ride along the surface, letting the notes, chords, and timbres provide a worthy repeatable listening experience.

The writing is fun and challenging, but not unreasonably so, with lots of rhythmic and melodic interplay between horn and vibraphone. As the composer implies in his preface, there are some complex compositional operations at work, but the melodies and timbres are interesting enough in and of themselves without deep analysis. As I’ve found in other works by him, Ken likes to throw in periodic references to other styles such as funk and jazz. For instance, this short line for the horn in the final movement, “Crystal Collage,” has a pretty fun groove to it. Tempo is quarter note=92-104 or faster.

Davies Excerpt

If this post has piqued your interest in the music of Ken Davies, take a look at his website for a complete list of his many works. Here is a short list of works with horn, taken from his website.

  • Brain Fantasies for horn and two-channel audio
  • Sensuous Images for horn and pre-recorded soundscape
  • Waterscape for horn and digital media
  • Loose Connections – horn alone
  • Three Roads Diverged – brass trio – tpt, hrn, tbn
  • Concert Piece for Brass Quintet and Organ
  • Bayou Sketches – soprano, French horn, piano
  • Veiled Places for Woodwind Quintet

Upcoming Performance: Dana Wilson Commission

Dana Wilson, Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus at the Ithaca College School of Music. Image obtained from https://www.danawilson.org/bio

On April 2 I’ll be joining my colleagues in Trio Mélange for a performance of a new work for voice, horn, and piano by Dana Wilson. Wilson is a widely recognized composer in multiple genres, and is Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus at the Ithaca College School of Music. The piece, Love me like a beautiful dream, is a six-movement song cycle commissioned in 2018 by a national consortium of horn players and their colleagues. The commission was initiated by Jeff Nelsen and his wife, mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen. Here’s a complete list of the participants in the consortium:

  • Jeff Nelsen, consortium initiator, and mezzo-soprano Nina Nelsen, Indiana University
  • Gene P. Berger, Ball State University
  • James Boldin and Trio Mélange, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Aaron Brant and soprano Andrea Wells, University of Dayton
  • David Cooper, Dallas Symphony
  • Marlene Ford, Old Dominion University
  • Steven Gross, University of California at Santa Barbara
  • Nancy Joy, New Mexico State University
  • Jason Johnston, University of Idaho
  • Brian Kilp, Indiana State University
  • Peter Kurau, Eastman School of Music
  • Seth Orgel, Louisiana State University and Atlantic Brass Quintet
  • Jennifer Presar, Southern Illinois University
  • Alex Shuhan, Ithaca College
  • Bernhard Scully, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Jeffrey Snedeker, Central Washington University
  • Michael Walker, University of New Mexico
  • Gail Williams, Northwestern University

I’ve mentioned commissioning consortia before, as they are a great (and inexpensive) way to support the creation of new music. It’s exciting and rewarding to take part in the  process, and we are really looking forward to our performance. I have not yet confirmed it, but ours may be the first performance in Louisiana. On to some more information about the piece. In the composer’s words, here is a description of Love me like a beautiful dream :

A wondrous (and frightening) aspect of being human is that, despite the apparent differences among cultures over time and in various parts of the world, our basic emotional needs and desires have remained the same. Although the texts that make up this work span the past 2,500 years and are from as far away as Persia, Japan, and Madagascar, they could have been written by our close friends, so “contemporary” are their views and concerns about love. This set, then, explores the many aspects of this basic emotion that gives life its difficult pleasures, and what better instruments to express them than female voice, horn and piano.

As Wilson mentions, the six movements are all connected by the theme of love, though the subtleties and complexities of this emotion give rise to contrasting musical ideas. The writing for horn is quite nice, idiomatic but certainly not simplistic. The melodies in each movement are distinct, but unified by an often melancholy character. The work begins and ends with a beautiful unaccompanied horn solo. Here’s a brief excerpt from the first movement, “The sweet murmur of your voice,”   © 2018 by Dana Wilson, on a text by Sappho (translated by Mary Barnard) c. 6th Cent. BCE Greece:

Another interesting movement is the third, “When the dawn comes,” on an Anonymous text from 9th Century Japan, translated by Arthur Waley. The horn part specifies a straight mute, to be played with a “very quiet, hollow sound” and “mournful (like a Japanese flute).” I presume this indication refers to the Shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute. Here’s the sound I am imagining:

It’s hauntingly beautiful, and I’ve been experimenting with different types of air, aperture shape, and mute placement to achieve something similar in character. A recording of the piece isn’t available yet, but hopefully one will be in the near future so that it can get some wider exposure. For the time being, keep an eye out for performances by the consortia participants. If you would like a score and parts, they can be obtained directly from the composer at this link, which also lists all of Wilson’s works with horn: https://www.danawilson.org/featured_instruments?instrument=Horn

In addition to the Wilson, I’ll also be performing another brand new work during the month of April. More information soon!

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