New Brass Trio CD Released!

I’m happy to report that Scenes from the Bayou, our new brass trio album, is now available on the Mark Custom Recordings label. Anyone who was released a recording knows how much work is involved, and while I truly have enjoyed every bit of the process, I’m nonetheless relieved (and excited) to see the final product in physical form. If you’re interested in reading more about the recording and editing process, you can see my previous posts here and here. At this time the recording is available for purchase directly from me and also on the Mark Recordings store page, linked above. It will be available very soon on iTunes and Amazon. I will post updates as soon as the links are up.

Here’s a small quote from the liner notes which explains the scope and contents of this album. You can also read the Sales Sheet, a handy one-page document with more information about the recording.

The repertoire for brass trio is not extensive, especially when compared to more venerable chamber ensembles such as brass quintet or string quartet. With only three voices, the number of possible harmonies and timbres is limited, and there are few works written by major composers. Furthermore, there are only a handful of established professional ensembles. Yet, the number of student, amateur, and professional ensembles is growing, and there are jewels in the repertoire which help give the medium credibility. Since its inception, Black Bayou Brass has sought to promote brass trio music through performances, commissions, arrangements, and recordings. This album showcases several World Premiere recordings in various styles and time periods, from the 18th to 21st centuries. We feel it represents the best of what brass trio compositions have to offer, and we sincerely hope you enjoy listening to it!

And here’s a complete track listing, as found in the CD tray, along with a video containing score samples and brief clips of each work.

Allegro 
Menuetto                                                              
Adagio 
Menuetto
Rondo: Allegro assai
Preludio            
Allemanda 
Corrente 
Gavotta 
Hopak from Sorochinsky Fair by Modest Mussorgsky/arr. Aaron Witek 
The Wheel             
The Metronome 
The Periscope 
Morse Code
The Airplane     
Morning on the Bayou   
Chasing Prey                
Bayou Boardwalk              
Cypress Trees            
Fire in the Sky 
All are world premiere recordings, and with the exception of Flash by Jérôme Naulais, all the works on this album were either commissioned by us or created by members of the ensemble. If you haven’t heard any brass trio music before, or if you aren’t very familiar with the repertoire, make sure you check out Scenes from the Bayou!
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Upcoming Conference Performances

While my summer has been restful so far, I’ve also been preparing for two conference performances with Black Bayou Brass. The first of these is the International Trombone Festival, July 11-14 at the University of Iowa, which will be quickly followed by the 50th International Horn Symposium, July 30 – August 4 at Ball State University.

Our ensemble for these performances is a low brass trio, composed of horn, trombone, and tuba. As with the high brass trio (trumpet, horn, trombone), the repertoire for low brass trio is limited, but with a few hidden gems. Here’s our program, with links to more information about the composers as well as YouTube links where available. If you aren’t familiar with the sound of a low brass trio be sure to listen to some of the recordings linked below. I’ve found it just as fulfilling as performing in a high brass trio, although the demands are slightly different. The horn has to play out in both groups, but being the lead voice in the low brass trio you have to lead a bit more (think like a trumpet player!)

It’s a great program, about 30 minutes of music, with lots of variety. Relationships by Canadian composer Elizabeth Raum was commissioned and recorded by three members of the brass faculty at Arizona State University, John Ericson, Deanna Swoboda, and Douglas Yeo, on their album Table for Three. It’s a very substantial three-movement work, with intricate writing in every part. The most notable, and by far the most performed composition on our program is Triangles, by John Stevens. Composed in 1978 for members of the Pentagon Brass Quintet, Triangles consists of several contrasting sections performed without pause. This piece has a bit of everything – classical, jazz, funk, Latin, etc. – all rolled into one. Fans of John Stevens will recognize many of the little licks and other stylistic fingerprints in this work which found their way into his later compositions. It’s a wonderful piece that every horn player should get a chance to play. Roger Jones, retired Professor of Tuba and Theory/Composition at the University of Louisiana Monroe, has a substantial catalog of noteworthy pieces. He’s been especially kind to our brass trio, and delivers again with this Trio for Horn, Trombone and Tuba. Composed in 1977, it’s the oldest work on the program, but has been seldom performed. If you plan on attending either this year’s International Trombone Festival or International Horn Symposium, I hope you can stop by and listen to our performance!

Brass Trio Recording Session Notes

©2018 David St. Onge

Black Bayou Brass recently wrapped up a 3-day recording session of new music for brass trio. Recording took place on January 5, 6, and 7 in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall at the University of Louisiana Monroe. The session went very well, and we are excited to move forward with the project. Here are some details on the upcoming album.

Repertoire: The album (title TBD) will feature all world-premiere recordings. In addition, we either commissioned or arranged all but one of the works. Here’s the list, with publisher information where applicable.

When finished, the recording should be about 60 minutes, with a good mix of contemporary and historical styles.

Engineer and Producer: Our engineer for this project was Dave St. Onge, a veteran of numerous recordings with Mark Custom Recording Service. Dave did a fantastic job, and I would recommend him without reservation to anyone looking for an engineer. More details on the recording process below. Gina Gillie, who composed Scenes from the Bayou for us, lent her critical ear to the recording as producer. A great engineer and producer are essential to the recording process, and we were fortunate to work with both Gina and Dave.

Recording Process: Prior to this project, I’d recorded twice before in our hall; first for a solo album with piano and harp, and next for soprano, piano, and horn. And although I’ve been performing in a brass trio for over ten years, this was really our first opportunity to experiment with high-quality microphones and various mic placements. As you’ll notice from the photo above, there was quite a bit of equipment on stage with us! *One note about professional microphones – they really do make a huge difference. While the handheld audio and video recorders out there (Zoom, Sony, Tascam, etc.) do a fine job for rehearsal and practice purposes, they really can’t compare to what you’ll hear with great mics. We were fortunate to be able to have a separate sound check in the hall the night before recording began. This saved us time and chops on the first day of recording. Timing for a soundcheck can vary depending on a number of factors, but in our case we spent about an hour or so just trying to find the right sound/balance/blend. Based upon our impressions, as well as input from the engineer and producer, we decided to use microphones in the hall and close mics on individual players. This combination seemed to provide a good balance between clarity and resonance/reverb for all three players. While I’ve only heard the rough mixes at this point, I think the final product is going to sound great!

Equipment: For my part I performed on a Yamaha 671 double horn, with a stainless steel mouthpiece by Balu Musik. The stainless mouthpiece was a fairly recent change for me, but for this recording I felt like it gave me the right kind of clarity and projection to compete with trumpet and trombone. I’m not 100% sold on it as my regular mouthpiece, but for this project it was the right decision.

Rest/Recovery/Next Steps: We recorded in two three-hour sessions each day for three days, with a two and half-hour break between the morning and afternoon. If this sounds like a lot of playing, it was! There was a lot of stopping and starting (common on most classical recordings), and we took a short break at least every hour, so the playing wasn’t constant. I managed to make it through the entire three-day session in good shape, but took the next day off completely.  On the day after that I practiced for about an hour. My embouchure was a bit stiff (no surprise there), but after 20 minutes or so of light playing things started to loosen up and feel more or less normal again. As always, recording was a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience. The next step in the process is to go back through our choice takes and decide exactly which ones we want to use for the album. From there we’ll send it off to be edited together into a complete recording.There are of course many more steps between now and the final commercial release, but it does feel good to have a major portion of the recording finished.

Stay tuned for more details on this project!

 

Upcoming Projects, Part 1: Performances and Premieres

For various reasons, I fell so far behind on writing my customary Semester Preview post this year that I decided to forgo it entirely. In lieu of that single post, I decided to write individual “blurbs” about  my upcoming activities.

Our faculty brass trio, Black Bayou Brass, recently commissioned two  new multi-movement works, which we’ll be premiering this spring and summer. The first piece is Inventions, by Sy Brandon. Commissioned through a consortium with several other brass ensembles, this substantial five-movement work is accessible and challenging (though not prohibitively so). In the composer’s words:

The title “Inventions’ has a double meaning as a musical invention is a short contrapuntal composition that is usually based on a single theme. The second meaning is that each movement represents a significant invention.

During the composition process Dr. Brandon provided sound samples and ample descriptions of each movement, and allowed us to provide feedback as each movement took shape. Follow the links below for more information and a sound sample of each movement.

  1. The Wheel
  2. The Metronome
  3. The Periscope
  4. Morse Code
  5. The Airplane

For anyone interested in commissioning a new work, a consortium is a very effective way to generate funding. The fee for Inventions was very reasonable, and we are looking forward to performing it on our March 14 faculty recital.

In June we’ll travel to the International Women’s Brass Conference  to premiere a new work by Dr. Gina Gillie, Associate Professor of Horn at Pacific Lutheran University. Gillie has published a handful of compositions, and is quickly making a name for herself. Her music is tuneful, engaging, and very fun to play. We were fortunate to be awarded funding for this commission from the International Horn Society’s Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund.  The Meir Rimon Fund is a fantastic program, and well-worth exploring. Gillie’s new work is entitled Scenes from Black Bayou,  and was inspired by the beautiful natural scenery at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge (see image above). Black Bayou is, of course, what our trio is named after, and is located a few miles north of the ULM campus. We’ve begun rehearsing the trio, and are having a great time with it. If you’ll be attending this year’s IWBC at Rowan University in New Jersey, we’d love to see you at our performance.

Upcoming Performance: University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Horn Ensemble

[This post is the second in a series related to events at the upcoming 47th International Horn Symposium. You can read the first one here.]

The 47th International Horn Symposium is less than two months away, and I’m very excited to attend what promises to be a huge event. The lineup of artists, presenters, and exhibitors is excellent, and I will be posting updates throughout the week. There will be a tremendous variety of performances, lectures, and other activities, and the biggest dilemma many attendees will face is deciding what to see and hear. It will be impossible to experience everything being offered, but I hope to see enough to provide some interesting commentary for readers who may not be able to attend a particular performance or lecture, or even attend the symposium at all.

In addition to attending performances and lectures, and checking out the exhibits, I’ll be participating in three separate events at this year’s symposium: a world premiere performance, a presentation, and a University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni horn ensemble, conducted by Douglas Hill (image linked from hornsociety.org). Dr. Daren Robbins, a fellow UW alum and now on faculty at Mahidol University in Thailand, has organized and coordinated what should be a fantastic program. I feel privileged and humbled to be in the company of these players, many of them good friends and colleagues. Here’s a list of the participants.

Douglas Hill, director (Professor Emeritus, UW-Madison)
Steve Becknell (University of Southern California, LA freelancer)
James Boldin (University of Louisiana at Monroe)
Peggy DeMers (Sam Houston State University)
Lin Foulk (Western Michigan University)
Gina Gillie (Pacific Lutheran University)
Claire Hellweg (Orquesta Sinfonica de la Universidad de Guanajuato)
Patrick Hughes (University of Texas-Austin)
Katie Johnson (University of Tennessee)
Kristina Mascher (Luxembourg Philharmonic, American Horn Quartet)
Daren Robbins (Mahidol University)
Amanda Skidmore Farasat (Illinois Center for Aston-Patterning)
Jeffrey Snedeker (Central Washington University)
Nancy Sullivan (Northern Arizona University)
Leelanee Sterrett (New York Philharmonic, Ghengis Barbie)
Kristin Thelander (University of Iowa)
Timothy Thompson (University of Arkansas)
Rose Valby (DMA Candidate and Teaching Assistant at UT-Austin)
Lydia Van Dreel (University of Oregon)

As you can see, the list includes freelancers, orchestral players, and university professors, spanning several decades of Professor Hill’s tenure. Our program (shown below) will consist of several works by Hill, as well as one work by Patrick Hughes from UT-Austin. It should be an exciting and fun program, and I’m especially looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and colleagues, and meeting a few new ones.

Douglas Hill (b. 1946)

  • Clusters
  • The Glorious Privilege of Being
  • Gratitude, from Recollections for 8 Horns

Patrick Hughes (b. 1962)

  • Dancing on the Hill *Honorable Mention, 2014 IHS Composition Contest, Virtuoso Division

Our performance is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5th at 4:00 p.m. local time, and I hope that you can attend!

Chamber Music Rehearsal Flowchart

Next week our brass trio will be giving a guest recital and master class at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I’m looking forward to this performance for a number of reasons, one of them being a chance to catch up with Justin Isenhour, a former classmate from my undergraduate days at Appalachian State University. Dr. Isenhour is now an Assistant Professor of Music at OBU, where he teaches applied low brass and music theory. In addition to our performance, we’ll also be giving a master class on chamber music, with an emphasis on the DIY (Do It Yourself) approach. Though DIY usually refers to home repair and/or renovation, in this case our presentation will focus on how to conduct chamber music rehearsals yourself, without the assistance of a coach. While coachings from a faculty member or other mentor are vital to a group’s development, the majority of the work in any chamber ensemble is conducted in closed rehearsals by the members themselves.

In preparation for this class I put together a one-page flowchart for solving problems in chamber music rehearsals, which you can download below. Although they can’t answer every question, flow charts are a great way to help clarify the decision-making process. Feel free to borrow any or all of the ideas in this chart, and use them in your rehearsals. This chart was created using free online diagram software called Draw.io. It’s a great tool, and very easy to use!

Download the PDF chart here. Chamber Music Flowchart

flowchart

If you happen to be in the Arkadelphia area we would love to see you at our performance! For more information about the concert, follow this link.

 

Summer Update, and Brass Trio Lists

I’ve been enjoying some much-needed vacation time this summer, complete with an extended hiatus from blogging. Although I haven’t posted any new content for the last several weeks, this time has not been spent idly. Summer is a great time to work on various projects and get in lots of focused practice sessions. Here’s a brief list of what I’ve been up to this summer.

  • New Arrangements: Two have been submitted for publication, and I anticipate sending in a couple more by the fall. More details once they’re in print!
  • Wedding Season: In June I was invited to play at a good friend’s wedding. We became friends in high school band, and have stayed in touch for the last 2o years. My wife and I had a great time catching up with old friends and celebrating at the reception. Here’s a a picture of me playing some pre-ceremony music. Photograph by Urban Bloom Photography.hornpicture
  • Practicing: A short run of Les Misérables coming up at the beginning of August, and a faculty recital (Music for Horn and Organ) coming up in early October. More details on this recital in a future post.
  • Brass Trio Article: I recently submitted an article to The Horn Call titled “Brass Trio Repertoire: Beyond Poulenc.” For a while now I’ve been planning to put together a list of original brass trio compositions, and I hope that others find the article useful. The story behind the title is that I’m often asked by colleagues what other good works are out there for brass trio in addition to Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Trumpet, Horn and Trombone. The short answer is “a lot!” For part of the article I put together my personal “Top 10” list of works that I consider basic repertoire. Such lists are of course arbitrary, but if you’re looking for music to play in a brass trio in addition to the Poulenc this is a great place to start. Here’s the list, in alphabetical order. Where available, I’ve included a link to a live performance of the work.
  1. Lauren Bernofsky, Trio for Brass
  2. Eric Ewazen, A Philharmonic Fanfare
  3. Arthur Frackenpohl, Brass Trio
  4. Jan Koetsier, Figaro-Metamorphosen, Op. 131
  5. Jean-François Michel, Suite
  6. Jérôme Naulais, Flash
  7. Václav Nelhýbel, Trio for Brass
  8. Anthony Plog, Trio for Brass
  9. David Sampson, Duncan Trio
  10. Daniel Schnyder, Trio for Trumpet, Horn, and Trombone/Bass Trombone or Tuba

Another portion of the article includes a list of currently or recently active ensembles, with links to their websites, if available. This is only a partial alphabetical listing, and I’m sure there are many other fine groups out there. If you are a member of an active brass trio I’d love to hear from you and chat about repertoire.

  1. Auckland Chamber Ensemble (ACE) Brass
  2. Black Bayou Brass
  3. Borealis Brass
  4. Contrapunctus Brass Trio
  5. Del Mar College Faculty Brass Trio
  6. Kalamazoo Brass Collective
  7. Louisville Orchestra Brass Trio
  8. New Mexico Brass Trio
  9. New York Brass Arts Trio
  10. New York Chamber Brass
  11. Old Dominion University Faculty Brass Trio
  12. Ouachita Baptist University Faculty Brass Trio
  13. Pro Musica Brass Trio
  14. Reedy River Brass Trio
  15. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Faculty Brass Trio
  16. Three Body Problem
  17. Trillium Brass Trio
  18. University of Maryland Brass Trio
  19. V3NTO Brass Trio
  20. Warsaw Brass Trio
  21. Welsh Brass Trio
  22. Wenham Street Brass
  23. Yale Brass Trio

If this brief look whets your appetite for more information about brass trio music, be sure to check out the article in a future issue of The Horn Call!

I’ll only post sporadically between now and the beginning of the fall semester, but plan to resume a more regular writing schedule once school begins. Enjoy the summer!

Conference Report: 2014 International Women’s Brass Conference

bbb_iwbcAfter a 1600 mile round trip, we returned to Louisiana early yesterday morning from the 2014 International Women’s Brass Conference, hosted by Dr. Raquel Rodriguez at Northern Kentucky University. Our performance went well, and overall it was a great experience. For more details on our program – Music for Brass Trio by Women Composers – see this link. A big Thank You! and Bravo! are in order for co-hosts Raquel Rodriguez and Karen Koner. They put together a wonderful event. Because of our travel schedule and some other prior commitments, we were only able to attend a few days of the conference, but from what we observed everything ran smoothly and efficiently. Rehearsal space at conferences like this one are always at a premium, but we were allowed access to a large room complete with an organ (which we needed to perform Libby Larsen’s trio). We also had plenty of time for a sound check in the performance space, which is not always possible. After our performance we got some great feedback from audience members, including composer Dr. Lauren Bernofsky, who composed the final work on our program. It is always a special experience for the performers when the composer is in attendance, and we were honored that Dr. Bernofsky could be there. If you don’t know this very substantial work for brass trio, you can listen to it on this recording by the University of Maryland Brass Trio.

Although our time at NKU was limited, I did have a chance to check out the exhibit hall and speak with Dr. Randall Faust, Professor of Horn at Western Illinois University and owner of Faust Music. I have been slowly acquiring the horn-related publications in their library, and they are all highly recommended. On this trip I bought both volumes of The Advancing Hornist,written by Marvin Howe and edited by Randall Faust. Marvin Howe taught for many years at Eastern Michigan University and at Interlochen National Music Camp. While familiar with his name, I don’t know many details of his pedagogy, and am looking forward to working with these two books. I also got a chance to catch up with Dr. Stacie Mickens, Assistant Professor of Horn at Youngstown State University. Stacie and I have known each other since 2002 when we started our master’s degrees at the University of Wisconsin. She is doing some great things at YSU, and we hope to have her visit ULM soon for a recital and masterclass.

While I would have liked to attend more of the performances at IWBC, the ones I did make it to were excellent. Two that stand out in my mind were a performance of Ann Callaway’s Four Elements for Horn and Piano by Dr. Katie Johnson, Assistant Professor of Horn at the University of Tennessee, and a recital by Ava Ordman, Associate Professor of Trombone at Michigan State University. Sadly, we did not make it to the conference in time to hear Elizabeth Freimuth‘s recital (Principal Horn, Cincinnati Symphony), but we did get tickets to hear the Cincinnati Pops present a very brass heavy concert. I was familiar with this group through their numerous recordings with Erich Kunzel on the Telarc label, and they did not disappoint! Works on the program included Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Finale from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Montagues and Capulets from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Pines of the Appian Way from Respighi’s The Pines of Rome, and many more. Elizabeth Freimuth sounded fantastic, as did the rest of the horns and brass.

The 2014 International Women’s Brass Conference was a terrific event, and I highly recommend it to brass players of all levels. The site for the next IWBC in 2016 hasn’t been announced yet, but when it is be sure to check out their website for more details.

As usual, I’ll be taking some time off from writing blog posts, but will be working on some other projects as well as spending time with friends and family. Best wishes to everyone for a fun, safe, and productive summer!

 

Upcoming Performance: International Women’s Brass Conference

Although I have a number of projects to work on this summer, one big event will be a performance with Black Bayou Brass at the International Women’s Brass Conference, June 4-8 on the campus of Northern Kentucky University. I’ve never attended an IWBC, but have heard very good things about both the organization and the conference. This year’s conference will feature a number of renowned artists, including Elizabeth Freimuth, Principal Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony. While the title of this conference might suggest that participation is limited only to women, this is not the case at all. The mission of the IWBC is to educate, inspire, and encourage women brass players, and membership is open to all women and men who want to support these goals. For our part, we’ll be performing a program of music for brass trio by women composers. Here’s the lineup.

  • Engelberg: Trio for Brass and Organ, Libby Larsen (b. 1950)
  • Three Chorals for Brass Trio, Adriana Figueroa Mañas (b. 1966)
  • Wandl’ ich in dem Wald des Abends, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847) Arr. James Boldin
  • Trio for Brass, Lauren Bernofsky (b. 1967)

As our presentation time is limited to 20 minutes, we will perform selected movements from the Mañas and Bernofsky. If you don’t know any of these works they are definitely worth checking out. For a more comprehensive list of brass trio (and other) music by women composers, visit the website of Dr. Lin Foulk, Associate Professor of Horn at Western Michigan University. I’ve also included a few program notes below for each of these works. We are very excited to perform at this conference, and as always are looking forward to hearing lots of great brass playing and catching up with colleagues and friends from around the country. On a related note, I just recently learned of a newly completed brass trio by Dr. Gina Gillie, Assistant Professor of Horn at Pacific Lutheran University. This work was commissioned by Elliott Higgins for the New Mexico Brass Trio, and although we won’t be performing it at this year’s IWBC, our faculty trio here will definitely be reading it in the future.

If you are planning to attending the 2014 IWBC we hope that you can hear our performance, and look forward to seeing you there!

Program Notes

Libby Larsen’s Engelberg: Trio for Brass and Organ is based upon the hymn tune of the same name, composed by Charles V. Stanford, and perhaps most well known as the setting for “When in Our Music God is Glorified.” It was commissioned by Ray and Elsie Martin for the Zephyr Brass Trio, to commemorate the birthday of Raymond J. Martin, Sr. on November 5, 2006. Though firmly grounded in tonality, the work makes use of several non-traditional modulations.

Adriana Figueroa Mañas was commissioned to compose her Three Chorals for Brass Trio by Dr. James Bicigo and the Borealis Brass (University of Alaska Fairbanks). Since its premiere by that ensemble, Three Chorals has had numerous performances throughout the world, and has been recorded by the Borealis Brass on their CD Roman Holidays. Though the work does not directly quote any folk melodies from her native Argentina, Mañas has stated that it freely incorporates the colors and rhythms of folk music.

Originally scored for two sopranos and alto on a text of Heinrich Heine, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Wandl’ ich in dem Wald des Abends (I wander in the evening forest…), depicts a melancholy reminiscence brought on by an evening stroll through the woods. Its chromatic harmonies and quasi-imitative texture are well suited to the brass trio medium.

Lauren Bernofsky’s Trio for Brass was commissioned by Mary L. Thornton for the Delmar Trio. The following notes are from the composer:

I wanted to write a piece that would be an exciting challenge for the performers (though not impossibly difficult). The piece is cast in three contrasting movements, following the traditional slow-fast-slow scheme. The overall duration is approximately fifteen minutes, which makes it a relatively long piece for this number of brass instruments; since there are only three in the group, allowing one to rest results in a duo texture, which is notably thinner than a trio texture (as compared to a brass quintet, where the resting of one voice leaves us with the full sound of four others still playing.). I made a real effort to “thin out” the texture in many places of especially the last movement, by which time the players would of course need it the most. I tried to create variety in the piece through different textures. The outer movements often alternate between sections of homophony, where the instruments all play the same rhythms together, and more complex-sounding contrapuntal textures. Much of the middle movement has a clear bass line, middle voice, and melody, and I wrote it as a necessary release from the more harder-to-hear outer movements. Most importantly, my intent was to write a piece that would be fun to play as well as to hear.

 

Upcoming Horn Quartet Performances

I have several performances coming up over the next week or so, including an orchestral concert (Britten, Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Korngold, Violin Concerto, Grieg, Peer Gynt Suite No. 1) a performance with brass quintet and choir,  and two concerts with a horn quartet. The quartet concerts are of particular interest because of the repertoire. On Monday, March 17th our quartet (Les Cors de la Louisiane) will join the Centenary College Camerata for a performance of Stravinsky’s Four Russian Peasant Songs for Female Voices and Horn Quartet, and Robert Schumann’s Jagdlieder, Op. 137 (Hunting Songs) for Men’s Choir and Horn Quartet. We’ll also be performing Eugène Bozza’s Suite for Four Horns on the same concert.

Both the Stravinsky and the Schumann were new to me, and have been very rewarding to prepare and rehearse. As might be expected, the Stravinsky is full of fun “licks” for the horns, and the quartet parts are often independent of both one another and the choir. The original version of the work is for unaccompanied female voices, and Stravinsky added the horn parts at a later date. If you ever perform this work, be aware that there are some differences in the first movement between the quartet parts and the vocal score. Figuring these out in advance will help save time at the first rehearsal. There are quite a few recordings of the original a capella version, but I was only able to find one recording with horn quartet (Stravinsky conducting). You can check out samples from each movement here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/stravinsky-conducts-stravinsky/id401560244. The image at right is from the album cover. It’s a charming piece, and well worth the time it takes to work out all of the tricky rhythmic devices Stravinsky employs.

Schumann’s Jagdlieder is more straightforward than the Stravinsky, but also lots of fun. The style is of course rooted in hunting horn music, but with some interesting chromatic chords in the slow movements. Much of the writing in the fourth song, Frühe (Morning) reminds me of the second movement of the Konzertstück. Here’s a video from a live performance of the first song (performers not listed).

Later in the week we’ll perform again on a concert series in Marshall, TX. It’s a light program, with a variety of original and arranged works for horn quartet. Here’s the list.

  • Bozza, Suite (Selections)
  • Shaw, Frippery No. 5
  • Scheidt/ed. Jones, Canzon Cornetto
  • Turner, The Ghost Town Parade, from Quartet No. 3
  • Tchesnokov/arr. Wood, Salvation is Created
  • Bach/arr. Shaw, Fugue in C Minor
  • Kallstrom, Headbanger

If you are within easy traveling distance of either of these performances we’d love to see you there!

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