IHS 48 Final Thoughts

IMG_20160618_154254072_HDRNow that the 48th International Horn Symposium is officially over, I have a few parting thoughts regarding the world’s largest annual gathering of horn players. First, a huge Thank You and congratulations to host Alex Shuhan and all the students, faculty, staff, and volunteers in the Ithaca College School of Music for putting together a fantastic week of events. Additional thanks should go to Nancy Joy, International Symposium Coordinator, and Rose French, Symposium Exhibits Coordinator, as well as the IHS Officers and Advisory Council. Horn players generally work well together as a team, and the IHS 48 team was no exception – Bravo! Here are a few more summary comments to wrap up this series on the symposium. (Feel free to read the entire series, beginning with Report No. 1)

Symposium Theme: The theme of IHS 48 was “The Natural Beauty of the Horn,” and this was honored in many performances, lectures, and other events throughout the week. There were outdoor Alphorn jam sessions, lectures on the Baroque horn and other historical topics, and some stunning natural horn playing (Pip Eastop, Jeffrey Snedeker, and others), to name just a few. The gorgeous natural scenery and tree-filled landscape on the Ithaca College campus created an almost pastoral backdrop.

Exhibits and Layout: As mentioned in an earlier report, all of the events for IHS 48 were located in two buildings: the Campus Center (exhibits) and Whalen Center for Music (performances and lectures). Navigation between the two buildings was very simple, but the sprawling layout of the Campus Center caused some initial confusion in locating all of the exhibitors. However, numerous signs posted by symposium staff helped point the way. By the end of the first day or so I had a pretty good grasp on where things were located – others were much quicker in figuring things out! As expected, all of the best instruments, equipment, and accessories were on display throughout the week. While sheet music and books were represented, my personal choice would have been to see a few more publishers and dealers in attendance. Perhaps digital downloads and the general availability of these materials online is having an effect? Difficult to know based on this one event.

Etiquette (Concert Hall and Exhibit Rooms): I am going to approach this topic delicately because one of the great things about the IHS symposium is that it brings together horn players from a wide variety of backgrounds, abilities, and interests. I am in complete support of this, and feel that the symposium experience should be as inclusive as possible. During these types of conferences there are multiple events going on simultaneously, and it is not unusual for attendees to visit one concert or lecture for a time and then sneak out to catch part of another one (or two). I have done this myself on numerous occasions, and it is generally acceptable so long as one enters or exits the hall during applause, not during a performance or between movements. For whatever reason, I noticed this happening quite a bit during the week, and it must have been a frequent enough occurrence for the symposium staff to notice because some signs were posted asking audience members to enter only during applause or to use a less obtrusive entrance into the hall.

The second part of this topic concerns Exhibit Room etiquette. I’ve not seen too much written about this, but there are a few rules to observe to ensure an enjoyable experience for all. I’ve listed them below in the form of a “Do” list. The “Don’ts” can be easily extrapolated, I think!

  • Ask permission to try a horn, especially if it is a rare or expensive model. The exhibitors know you are there to try out instruments, but if time permits I think it’s worth the professional courtesy to ask before just picking them up. If the dealer is otherwise occupied, then it probably isn’t that big of an issue. Be sure to thank them after you’ve tried a horn. They went to a lot of trouble and expense to bring those instruments there.
  • Empty the horn before and after you’ve played on it.
  • Ask questions if you don’t know something. European or American taper? What key does this stand in? What’s the compression rating on these valves? Etc., etc. In my experience exhibitors are more than happy to answer any questions you have about their horns.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings. When playing, direct your bell away from others if at all possible.
  • Play intelligently. Play what you think is necessary to test out the capabilities of the horn, as well as have some fun. However, if you need to test out multiple fortissimo high Cs, then you should probably ask the dealer if you can take the horn to a practice room or a slightly more secluded area for more extensive playing.
  • Check your ego at the door. Some of the finest performers in the world as well as students and occasional or comeback players might all be in the exhibit hall at the same time. There is a place for everyone at an IHS symposium, so just relax and enjoy getting to check out lots of different instruments and accessories!

World Premieres: I already mentioned that IHS48 was a fantastic symposium for new music. The final total according to the program book was 14 World Premieres, although I suspect a few other works might also have been premieres but weren’t indicated. Many performers included both new and standard works on their programs, which made for well balanced concerts.

Stuff I Bought: I’m not really in the market for a new horn, but I did find a few useful items that might be of interest. Here’s a brief description of each.

  • Hard Shell Marcus Bonna Mute Case: This is a brand new product from one of the leaders in horn IMG_20160617_085952264_HDRcases, and I am thankful to see it available. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having a mute partially crushed during air travel, even though it was wrapped in several layers of clothing and inside a hard shell suitcase. Although very happy with my Dampfer Mitt bag, I’ve been looking for something a bit more protective. Bonna’s design is similar to other mute bags, but incorporates the rigid shell used in his horn cases. I did not have my mute with me, but Mr. Bonna was kind enough to bring the case to another exhibit room to let me try it out on the same model. It was a perfect fit, and I am looking forward to using the new case. One note is that some mutes won’t fit in this particular case, although Mr. Bonna told me that he is planning to make them in different sizes in the future. If you have any questions I recommend contacting either Marcus Bonna or Ken Pope, who will probably be selling them soon on his website.
  • Balu/Maelstrom Mouthpiece: Maelstrom is one of the newer names in horn mouthpieces, but I’ve already heard lots of good things about them. Ion Balu of BaluMusik has collaborated with Maelstrom to create his own line of mouthpieces, and I ended up buying one of the brass underparts at this symposium. I’m looking forward to trying this one out with my Houser rim, and will report once I’ve had a chance to play on it some more.

All in all, IHS 48 was a great event, and I’m glad (as always) that I was able to attend. If you’ve never attended an IHS Symposium, consider making plans to attend the next one on June 26-30, 2017 in Natal, Brazil.

 

IHS 48 Report No. 4

This post is the fourth in a series of brief summaries regarding the 48th International Horn Symposium. You can read the first one here, the second one here, and the third one here.

Today I got to hear lots of brass chamber music, first from the Gaudete Brass in a concert featuring  original music for brass quintet. According to their website, the Gaudete (gow-day-tay) Brass is committed to “presenting serious brass chamber music through compelling concerts, commissioning new works and adventurous recordings.” They certainly lived up to their mission in today’s concert, performing these works:

  • Entrance (2003) David Sampson
  • Lighthouse Suite (2014) Daniel Baldwin
  • Still (2013) David Sampson
  • Brass Quintet (2009) Shafer Mahoney

The group sounded very good, with a polished and professional stage presence.

Next I attended a master class by Eli Epstein, “Cultivating One’s Own Voice on the Horn.” In this class he listened to three students perform various works (Rachmaninov, Vocalise; Massenet, Meditation from Thais; Schumann, Adagio and Allegro) and helped them tap into their own emotions to deliver more convincing and authentic performances. For more on this technique (and many more insights!) read his book, Horn Playing from the Inside Out.

After the master class it was time for some more new music. Jeffrey Snedeker gave an impressive performance of Dana Wilson’s Musings for Horn and Piano. I’ve known about Wilson’s music for quite a while, but have not yet performed any of it. After hearing many of his works at this symposium I am definitely planning to perform some in the future. Gene Berger then performed the World Premiere of Christoph Nils Thompson‘s Sonata for Horn and Piano. This has been a great symposium for new music, with ten world premieres thus far. The concert closed with a performance by the Washburn University Faculty Brass Quintet (Dr. Matthew Haislip, horn) of Haislip’s Brass Quintet No. 1 in D Major.

I stayed in the same concert hall for a bit of the next recital, but left about half way through to grab dinner and have some down time before the evening concert. Bravo to Corbin Wagner for his very fine performance of the Christoph Förster Concerto (First Movement) and Bozza’s Sur Les Cimes. On a related note, today I purchased a copy of his book, The How-to Horn Book, and his recording of music for soprano, horn, and piano. More about these in a future post.

I only attended the first half of this evening’s concert, opting instead for an earlier night to rest up for my presentation tomorrow. However, the part I heard was very unique, beginning with some entertaining pre-concert music by the Cornua Irae Quartet. Their blend of humor and solid horn playing was very enjoyable. The concert opened with impeccable playing by Gail Williams on David Gwilt’s Sonatina for Horn and Piano, followed by several works performed by Nobuaki Fukukawa, Principal Horn of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. His program included a U.S. premiere and two world premieres, chief among them being a new work by Eric Ewazen. His Nocturne and Toccata was commissioned by the Japan Horn Society for their 2016 competition, and is sure to become a popular piece in the repertoire. If I had to sum up Fukukawa’s playing in one word it would be “stunning.” His boundless technique is balanced by mature phrasing and finesse. Of the works he played, the Ewazen is probably the most approachable, though it was also quite challenging.

Coming up tomorrow, I have my Solo Training for Horn Presentation and a few more performances and clinics to see. It will probably be my last full day at the symposium, as I am planning to spend Saturday sight-seeing with my relatives. There is some gorgeous natural scenery in Ithaca, and I want to get some more pictures! Here are a couple of shots taken very quickly on campus. The first is looking down from the music building across the Ithaca campus, the second is a similar view, but at sunset, and the third is a deer I saw on campus during my walk back from a concert.

IMG_20160614_122539640 IMG_20160614_213508196IMG_20160616_204854606

 

 

 

IHS 48 Report No. 3

This post is the third in a series of brief summaries regarding the 48th International Horn Symposium. You can read the first one here, and the second one here.

Today I attended a mix of lectures and performances. First was a concert featuring the music of Daniel Baldwin. Baldwin’s music is tuneful, and very fun to perform. Here is a condensed version of the program, with instrumentation and the names of the horn players. For full information, you can view the online program book, page 18.

  • KUI Awakened (Solo Horn; Philip Kassell)
  • Dreams of the White Tiger (Woodwind Quintet; Clare Tuxill McKenney)
  • Landscapes (Horn, Clarinet, Bassoon, Piano; Erin Futterer)
  • Big Sky Country (Horn Ensemble)
  • Firefall (Horn Ensemble)

Bravo to all of the performers on this concert! If you don’t know Daniel Baldwin’s music, it is well worth a look and listen. *I had to step out of the concert early, and missed the last two horn ensemble works. Immediately following this performance I spent some much needed time in the practice room, preparing for my presentation on Friday.

Next I attended a very special presentation, “MRI Horn, The Inside Story: Pedagogy Informed by Science,” by Eli Epstein and Dr Peter Iltis. There was way too much information in this presentation to summarize here, but you can view this video conversation between Sarah Willis and Peter Iltis for an overview of how this powerful technology can improve our understanding of horn playing. The presentation began by reviewing some of the information presented at IHS47 in Los Angeles, and continued with some new discoveries regarding tongue position, and the role of the glottis in brass playing.

The afternoon performance included both new and old, with Dr. Jeffrey Snedeker performing the Nikolas von Krufft Sonata on natural horn, Dr. Erica Tyner Godrian performing a new solo horn work titled “across the plains, to Devils Tower” by Mack LaMont, and Dr. Margaret Tung performing the World Premiere of John Cheetham’s Sonata for Horn and Piano. All of the performances were very solid, and I especially enjoyed the Cheetham. Anyone who has played in a brass quintet knows Cheetham’s Scherzo, and think this new work for horn will get played quite a bit.

ihs 49The next update isn’t directly related to today’s events, but rather to the symposium as a whole. The dates and location of the next symposium have been announced in the program book. The 49th International Horn Symposium will be held June 26-30, 2017 at the Federal University of Rio Grande de Norte in Natal, Brazil, and the host is Radegundis Tavares.

This evening’s concert included some really spectacular playing: first by Bruno Schneider and Leslie Norton, followed by William VerMeulen on the second half. One notable thing about the program is that I had never heard any of the pieces before. All of the compositions made for interesting and enjoyable listening, but standouts for me were the Gothic Concerto by Kerry Turner (performed by Leslie Norton), and the Horn Sonata No. 1 by Christopher Caliendo (performed by William VerMeulen). I enjoyed hearing all three of these world class players, each with a very distinctive sound and approach to the instrument. It’s difficult for me to put into words, but they all had something special to offer in terms of their sound quality, beyond just “getting the notes.” I plan to think about this a bit more during the rest of the week, and maybe will be able to put a finer point on it in my summary comments.

 

Upcoming Conference: 48th International Horn Symposium

79941_photoAfter a very successful New Music on the Bayou Summer Festival, I’m looking forward to attending the 48th International Horn Symposium, hosted by Alexander Shuhan and the Ithaca College School of Music. As with last year’s symposium, I’ll be posting brief updates each day about concerts, lectures, and other events. The list of Featured Artists is fantastic as usual, including several performers that I’ve not had the opportunity to hear live. For more information, you can consult the official program book, which is available online. In addition to attending as much as possible, I’ll be performing with Trio Mélange on a Contributing Artist recital, and giving a presentation titled Solo Training for Horn: Exercises and Etudes for Standard Solo Repertoire. For more information about the ensemble and our upcoming performance, check out this press release, and for more details about the presentation, check out this post. Although I will of course talk about the forthcoming publication, the presentation will include lots of other helpful tips and hints for practicing some of the most common solo literature. On a personal note, I’ll be staying with relatives in Ithaca, and look forward to spending time with them as well as attending the symposium.

After the symposium I’ll be dialing things back a little bit, although I do have a few reviews and other summer projects in the works. Safe travels to everyone traveling to the IHS Symposium, and I hope to see you there!

 

Upcoming Performances: New Music on the Bayou Festival

Next week I’ll be performing in several concerts for the inaugural season of the  New Music on the Bayou Summer Festival. This event will involve numerous composers and performers from throughout the region and across the country, and I’m really looking forward to it! Here’s a brief description of the festival from its website:

The New Music on the Bayou Summer Festival is a chance for contemporary composers to work with professional performers during the rehearsal process and to have their new works performed by professional ensembles and musicians in an intense four-day festival. The festival features concerts at traditional and non-traditional venues. All submissions will be eligible for the Black Bayou Composition Award monetary prize.

Concerts will take place in several different venues, including concert halls on the University of Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech University campuses, a local art museum, an art crawl, and even a national wildlife refuge! The festival promises to be not only a great venue to hear new music, but also a tour of the area’s many attractions. You can peruse the festival website for more details on the above.

The festival’s organizers, Dr. Mel Mobley and Dr. Gregory Lyons, have done a fantastic job coordinating all of the various elements: composers, performers, venues, rehearsal space, etc. With rehearsals set to begin next Tuesday and the first concert on Wednesday, individual preparation by the musicians is imperative. I personally like the challenge of preparing new and unfamiliar works, and feel that all of the works our group will be performing are high quality (though sometimes quite difficult). Here’s a listing of the composer, title, and instrumentation of the works I’m involved with next week. You can follow the links to each composer’s website for additional information and audio/video samples of their music.

Each work presents some unique and rewarding challenges, but here are a few general observations.

  • Range/Endurance: New music can sometimes be unreasonable in terms of range and endurance requirements, but the above pieces are actually very playable. They aren’t simplistic by any means, but they do take into account the actual possibilities of the instruments. As a performer, this is much appreciated! Believe it or not, after playing lots of brass trio music brass quintet is a bit easier on the face.
  • Rhythm: This has probably been the most challenging (at least for me) in terms of individual preparation. A few of the pieces have lots of mixed/asymmetrical meter, and in past experiences I’ve found that rhythms which seem clear cut during individual practice can become much more difficult to “feel” during ensemble rehearsals.
  • Dynamics/Articulation/Timbre Spectrum: As one might expect with new music, composers often want to break away from the traditional sounds of a particular instrument or ensemble. None of these works calls for any unusual or rare extended techniques, but they do make full use of the dynamic and articulation spectrum, as well as multiple timbres (everything from ff flutter tongue to pppp stopped horn).

Other than Covering, which I’ve performed multiple times, all of these pieces are brand new to us, and we look forward to rehearsing them for the composers as well as performing them during the festival. If you are in the area and looking for something to do after Memorial Day, check out one or more of the concerts on the New Music on the Bayou Festival. On a larger note, if you are a performer, consider seeking out and advocating for new music. Working with living composers can give you a fresh perspective as a performer, which will carry over into other areas of your musical career.

Upcoming Brass Trio Recital

blackbayoubrassBlack Bayou Brass will be performing a faculty recital at ULM on Thursday, March 24th at 7:30 p.m. in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall. We’ll be joined by several guests for this multimedia performance, which includes the world premiere of a new work for brass trio by Roger Jones. In addition we’ll be performing two brief works for brass trio and piano (with Deborah McClung-Guillory, a member of ULM’s piano faculty), Abe Lincoln’s Songbook, by Douglas Hill (with Jay Curtis, narrator), and Capital Dances, by Steven Winteregg. Here is some more information on each work, adapted from our program notes.

Bandera for Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, and Piano, by Kerry Turner (b. 1960) Kerry Turner’s music is ubiquitous in the horn world, especially his original works for horn quartet.  He also has some very fine works for brass ensemble, including this trio for brass with piano. When compared to the brass quintet, brass trio is a more limited medium, but the addition of a piano opens up a whole new realm of harmonies and textures. Here are some more details, taken from the composer’s notes in the score:

In the summer of 1979, I was employed on the Mayan Ranch in Bandera, Texas, located about sixty miles south of San Antonio. It was there that I encountered all of the excitements as well as the hard work associated with ranch life. Cooking breakfast out on the trail for ranch guests, cleaning out ancient tarantula-ridden bunk houses, and chasing away rattle-snakes and water-moccasins were some of the typical duties I had to perform. It was here that I experienced the traditions of the Old West that were to later influence my compositional style. Bandera for trumpet, horn, trombone, and piano is a tribute to these people who keep alive the venerable cowboy life.

Bandera has been recorded on the album Unlikely Fusion.

Heart of the Andes, by Daniel Baldwin (b. 1978) Baldwin’s music is accessible, fun to play, and musically fulfilling. Inspired by the landscape painting of the same name by American artist Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), Heart of the Andes conveys the breadth and grandeur of the original work. The following information about the painting is found on the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/09.95/.

Fully ten feet in breadth and rich in botanical detail, The Heart of the Andes is Church’s largest and most ambitious painting as well as the most popular in his time. It represents the culmination of two expeditions to Colombia and Ecuador in 1853 and 1857, inspired by the writings of the world-renowned naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Humboldt conceived the equatorial landscape of the New World as a kind of laboratory of the planet in which the range of climatic zones, from torrid to frigid, could be studied from the jungles at sea level to the perpetual snow of Andean mountains such as Chimborazo, in Ecuador, represented in Church’s picture. Within its classical landscape format, the artist literally attempted to convey the variety of earthly life, most conspicuous in the lush foreground. At its three-week premier in 1859, The Heart of the Andes was housed in a huge windowlike frame and illuminated in a darkened room by concealed skylights. Twelve thousand people paid a quarter apiece to see it in New York, whence it toured Great Britain and seven other American cities until the eve of the Civil War.

Originally scored for clarinet, bassoon, horn, and piano, the piece can also be performed by any trio combination with piano. The textures and harmonies are reminiscent of Eric Ewazen, and it makes a very nice addition to the brass trio repertoire. During the performance we will be projecting an image of Church’s painting onto the rear wall of the stage.

Capital Dances, by Steven Winteregg (b. 1952) Winteregg has written a number of works with horn, many of them for Richard Chenoweth. We’ve known about this great trio composition for some time, but haven’t had the opportunity to program it until now. This being a presidential election year, we thought the political theme of the work would be quite fitting. The following information is from Chenoweth’s liner notes to the recording Flights of Imagination: Chamber Music of Steven Winteregg.

Commissioned by the University of Dayton Brass Trio, Capital Dances was inspired by the cartoon dance sequences of political cartoonist Jules Feiffer. These dance sequences followed an imaginary performer through various dance movements accompanied by satirical political commentary and often ended with an engaging twist or thought. In Capital Dances, Steve composed a musical version of these political dances, attempting to capture the spirit of the artistic commentaries.

Sketchbook for Brass Trio, by Roger Jones (b. 1944) Jones has written two other works for our trio, and we are excited and honored to perform the premiere of his latest composition for us. Here are his notes about the piece:

Sketchbook for Brass Trio is a Suite of four movements designed to be performed as a whole or in various reorganizations including fewer movements if needed by the performers. The work, written in 2014 and dedicated to the Black Bayou Brass, in residence at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, is designed to provide ensembles with recital material that is colorful, playable, and interesting to the audience as well as the performers. Each movement is named with a sketch concept. No actual drawings inspired the writing. Players are encouraged, if desired, to find one or more sketches to display for each movement before or during the performance. It is the composer’s hope that this work will bring some pleasure to both performers and audiences.

A slideshow of various paintings and other public domain artworks will accompany this performance.

Abe Lincoln’s Song Book, by Douglas Hill (b. 1946) These charming arrangements of several of Lincoln’s favorite melodies are a delight to play, and are available for several different combinations of instruments. Hill writes the following about this unique work:

Abe Lincoln’s Song Book” was written in 2008 in celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday on February 12, 2009. This Brass Trio (Trumpet, Horn, Trombone) with narration has a selection of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite melodies. Lincoln felt a deep love and abiding respect for all kinds of music, similar to his extraordinary ability to feel compassion and respect for all kinds of people. These wonderful little songs capture a glimpse of his time and his place on this earth. Through Lincoln’s favorite songs we can celebrate the boy who became that most remarkable man who grew beyond us all as an example of a timeless, extraordinary human being.

We’ve chosen seven of our favorite arrangements for this performance, which will be narrated by Jay Curtis, General Manager of KEDM Public Radio in Monroe. To hear an excerpt from the piece, see the video below, which features the Contrapunctus Brass Trio with the composer narrating.

We hope that you can join us for this concert!

 

Semester Preview

calendarAlthough classes here just resumed last week, things are already in full swing, and this promises to be another exciting spring semester. As usual, I am looking forward to a variety of performances and other activities with my students and colleagues. Rather than list every single upcoming performance and project, I thought it would make more sense to mention a few of the highlights for each month. More details coming in future posts!

January

  • Recruiting tour with Black Bayou Brass

February

March

  • Black Bayou Brass Faculty Recital: This program on March 24th will feature a number of newer works for brass trio and brass trio with piano, including the world premiere of Sketchbook for Brass Trio by Roger Jones
  • Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday performances

April

  • Northeast Louisiana Horn Ensemble Concert
  • Canadian Brass Concert: The world-renowned brass quintet will be giving a free concert in Shreveport, and our studio will be making a short road trip for the performance.
  • Performance of Paul Basler’s Missa Kenya with the Monroe Symphony Chorus: It’s been a few years since I last performed this substantial piece, and I’m looking forward to doing it again!

Recurring events each month include performances with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra and Monroe Symphony Orchestra, who are performing lots of great repertoire. In addition, I anticipate finishing up work on Solo Training for Horn, my second publication for Mountain Peak Music. This companion to Solo Duet Training will contain exercises and etudes for one horn based on several solo works not covered in the first book. I have about 50% of the material prepared, and am on track to finish in April or early May. Including time for feedback and revisions, I hope to have the book ready (or nearly ready) by the 48th International Horn Symposium.

Best wishes to all my colleagues for a great semester!

Semester Preview: Fall 2015 Edition

back-to-school-20114097After posting a final update on the 47th International Horn Symposium, I decided to take a little break from blogging to focus on my preparations for the fall semester. The break turned out to be a little longer than expected, but I’m back now with my traditional semester preview. As always, a new academic year brings new opportunities and challenges, which I’m looking forward to. Here are some highlights from the coming semester.

Guest Artists: We are fortunate to have some excellent guest artists scheduled for recitals and master classes this fall. On October 5 and 6 we will host Dr. Justin Isenhour, Assistant Professor of Low Brass at Ouachita Baptist University and a member of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Isenhour and I attended Appalachian State University together, and I’m looking forward to hearing him play and watching him teach. In addition to his extensive performing and teaching activities, he is also a Level II certified Creative Motion® teacher. Dr. Isenhour was an incredible host during our visit to OBU last year, and it will be a pleasure to return the favor. The week after that we will host Dr. Gina Gillie, Associate Professor of Horn at Pacific Lutheran University. Dr. Gillie is a gifted performer and composer, and we attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison together. Dr. Gillie will perform a diverse program for horn and piano, including works by Saint-Saëns, Gliere, Scriabin, Gillie, Basler, and Mark Vallon. She was kind enough to ask me to join her on a performance of her new work, The Great Migration for Two Horns and Piano, published by RM Williams. I had the opportunity to hear her perform this piece at IHS 47 with Dr. Jeffrey Snedeker, and it sounded like fun!

Book Project – Solo Training for Horn: My big project for the next several months will be the companion book to Solo Duet Training for Horns. Though similar to the duet book, Solo Training will include much more “original” content, in the form of derivative exercises and etudes based on solo repertoire for the horn. I’m still in the preliminary planning stages, but the content will overlap some with Solo Duet Training. I’ll be posting updates here periodically, so if you’re interested in the new book check back often!

Recital Program – Music for Voice, Horn, and Piano: Breaking with my usual routine of scheduling a solo recital during the fall semester, my colleagues and I chose to push the program to the spring semester to allow more time to prepare. I’ve already begun practicing the music, and am very excited to perform again with Dr. Claire Vangelisti, soprano, and Dr. Richard Seiler, piano. We are planning to perform works by Reissiger, Berlioz, Panseron, Carrapatoso, and Nicolai, with the possible addition and/or substitution of Gina Gillie’s To the Seasons. I’ll post the final program here once it’s decided. In addition to our performance at ULM, we will also perform at Stephen F. Austin State University and the University of Texas at Tyler. More details as we get closer to the spring.

10 years of Full Time Teaching: This fall marks the beginning of my 10th year of full time college teaching, and I thought a few summary remarks were in order. Time has certainly flown, and it really doesn’t feel like I began teaching that long ago. Many things are different now than they were in the fall of 2006 – both at my institution and in my personal life – but I am continually grateful to be working with wonderful students and colleagues. My teaching and performing schedule is as busy as ever, and the big challenge for me now is to be as efficient as possible in my work and practice habits. Based on my observations of more experienced colleagues, I have come to the conclusion that sustaining a long and productive career depends upon balancing work and home life. Though not always easy, the rewards of doing so are well worth it.

As with last year, my creative efforts for the immediate future will be focused on a large project, which will limit my blogging. However, I have posts on a handful of topics in mind, including an interview as well as reviews of some new publications.

That’s all for now, but in closing I want to wish all my colleagues a great start to the new academic year!

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/.

Horn Symposium Update No. 5

IMG_0946Today, my last day at the 47th International Horn Symposium, was certainly memorable. I’ll post again in a few days with summary comments about the entire week I’ve spent here in Los Angeles, but I also wanted to write a few things about today in particular while they were fresh in my mind. Here we go.

  • Lecture – An Introduction to Solo Duet Training for Horns My presentation went very well, I thought, and had good attendance. The duets seem to be interesting to a wide range of horn players, which was definitely my intention. Thanks again to Gina Gillie for volunteering to demonstrate some of the duets with me.
  • Recital – Denise Tryon and Stefan Dohr This was my first time hearing Denise Tryon perform live, and her playing was superb. She premiered several new compositions that she recently commissioned, as well as the Neuling Bagatelle. She shared the recital with Stefan Dohr, who I have had the opportunity to hear multiple times this week, first on the Schumann Konzerstuck, then in the Berlin Philharmonic Horn Quartet, and on two solo recitals. Rarely have I heard a horn played with so many colors, contrasts and varieties of shading and nuance. His playing is incredibly interesting to listen to!
  • Recital – Chamber and Solo Music I attended this performance primarily to support my colleague and friend Gina Gillie, but I also heard some great playing by the other performers on the program. It was an interesting mix of the following: a familiar work; Mozart Horn Quintet (Emily Reppun, horn); an old work in a new guise; Bach’s Chaconne from the Violin Partita No. 2/arr. by David Jolley for brass trio (Tawnee Pumphrey, horn); original contemporary works, including two selections from Ricardo Matosinhos’s Low Horn Etudes (Marc Gelfo, horn) and Gina Gillie’s The Great Migration for Two Horns and Piano (Gina Gillie and Jeffrey Snedeker, horn). Though all of the performances were pretty solid, I especially enjoyed hearing the new works performed by Gelfo, Gillie, and Snedeker. There was a freshness and energy about their playing that really made these works stand out.
  • Evening Concert – A Sojurn, A Celebration, and A Farewell: A Night Honoring the American Horn Quartet I could write a lot about this evening’s performance, the final live concert by the AHQ, but I will try to keep my comments brief. I’ve written about the group before here, so if you would like more information please follow the link. For many reasons this was a very important and special concert, and the AHQ rose to the occasion with a brilliant performance featuring new and old selections from the group’s repertoire. The emotion and energy they brought to the stage was heightened, and it came across to the audience, who gave the group an extended ovation. They played two encores, and I think their second selection, an arrangement of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better,” aptly sums up the entire program and career of this singular ensemble.
IMG_0947

I will be leaving Los Angeles tomorrow, but the sounds, emotions, and other experiences from this week will stay with me a long time. As always, my thanks go out to Annie Bosler and Andrew Bain for putting together a fantastic symposium. [Photos above: Interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, venue for the AHQ’s final concert, and a picture of a lit building in downtown Los Angeles.)

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