It’s past time for an update on this blog, and I apologize to my readers (if any are left!) that it’s been so long since my last post. While things have gone well the past several months, I – like everyone else – am looking forward to returning to “normal” as soon as is safely possible. The mood in my state and region is more positive now than it’s been in a long time, which is of course encouraging.
Equipment – A New Horn!
While I’ve played on Geyer/Knopf-style horns for the majority of my career, I appreciate many (though not all) of the qualities of large-bell, i.e. Kruspe-style, horns. I recently got the chance to try one of Yamaha’s Kruspe horns, the YHR 668II, and have been enjoying it a lot! It blows differently than my YHR 671, but there are some interesting similarities as well. Ergonomically the two instruments feel similar in my left hand, despite the design differences. The 668II takes a bit more air, but I am able get some brassiness in the sound when desired. If you compare images of the Yamaha 668II and the Conn 8D, you’ll notice the similarity of design. It’s not just been years, but decades since I last played an 8D, so I can’t really compare it with the Yamaha. Here’s a very brief audio sample from a recording I made for IHS 53. The excerpt is from Roger Jones’s Sketchbook for Horn and Piano.
While I’m still adapting to this instrument, I’m having a great time doing it. One thing I discovered early on is that the 668II responds better to a mouthpiece with a slightly larger bore. In my case I switched from the Houser San Francisco model I was using on the 671 (#14 bore) to the Houser Standley GS12 model (#12 bore), keeping the same rim (Houser E model, 17.5mm). The Standley cup is slightly different than the San Francisco, so that may have impacted the results as well. The Standley model is not new for me, as I played on one for several years before making the move to the San Francisco. I won’t be selling my Geyer-style horn any time soon, but for the time being I plan to keep playing the big-bell horn regularly. If you’re in the market for a large-bell horn, the Yamaha 668II is worth a look.
This month marks my first year as Publications Editor for the International Horn Society. It continues to be an honor and privilege to serve the IHS in this position, especially following Bill Scharnberg’s 17-year tenure! I’m excited about the variety and number of articles that have been and continue to be submitted. Be sure to check out the May issue of The Horn Call if you have not done so already. On a related note, episodes of The Horn Call Podcast are available at podcast.hornsociety.org, and can also be found on Apple Podcasts and other major podcast outlets. As of this post, 13 episodes have been published (10 regular and 3 “bonus” episodes), with a total of 2,380 downloads. Given the niche market for this podcast, I think this is a respectable number. Guests so far have included: Andrew Pelletier, Ricardo Matosinhos, Gina Gillie, Margaret Tung, Jena Gardner, David Krehbiel, Frøydis Ree Wekre, John Ericson, Jonas Thoms, Albert Houde, Jeffrey Agrell, James Naigus, Drew Phillips, and Katy Ambrose. If you enjoy the podcast medium I hope you’ll subscribe to The Horn Call podcast. It is my hope it will serve as a bridge between IHS membership, content creators, and IHS leadership. It has been a pleasure speaking with each and every guest!
In terms of teaching and performing obligations, this summer will be very light for me, but I have several other projects in the works. One is a book project for Mountain Peak Music, and another is a commissioning project. More details on both in future posts, I promise! Up next week is a woodwind quintet performance for the 5th annual New Music on the Bayou Summer Festival. If you are a fan of new music, be sure to check out the live-streams of these concerts. I’ve also submitted three pre-recorded videos for IHS 53: a solo performance – which includes the world premieres of works by Douglas Hill and Roger Jones – a ULM Horn Ensemble performance, and a presentation on burnout. The burnout presentation was originally scheduled for IHS 52 (which was cancelled), but it seemed just as appropriate this year! All three will be available to those who register for the symposium, which is scheduled for August 9-13, 2021.
I hope everyone has a lovely summer with plenty of rest and relaxation!