IHS 45 Report

ihs45I returned yesterday from the 45th International Horn Symposium, hosted by Professor Dan Phillips at the University of Memphis.  First, hearty congratulations and a huge thank you to Professor Phillips and his students for putting on a fantastic symposium this year! Though there are similarities among all events of this type, each has its own unique feel and style. The overarching theme of “Horn and Song” provided a sense of unity and cohesion to virtually all of the activities. My experience this year was a bit condensed – I arrived on Wednesday evening and departed on Saturday morning – but I still got to attend several different types of lectures and concerts, as well as peruse the exhibit rooms. It’s impossible to attend everything at such a large conference, but I tried to make sure that I saw a cross section of what was happening. As my time was rather limited this year I decided to wait until returning home to post some thoughts about the symposium.

Concerts

Thursday afternoon’s Artist Recital featured Jasper de Waal and Abel Pereira (visit the IHS 45 Featured Artists page for more info), in a program of music by Ignaz Lachner, Paul Basler, and Johannes Brahms. Mr. Pereira, an internationally known player from Portugal, opened the concert with Lachner’s Concertino, Op. 43 for Horn and Bassoon, followed by Paul Basler’s Six Bagatelles for Horn and Bassoon. I was very impressed with Pereira’s playing, which combined technical prowess with consummate musicality. The second movement of the Lachner was especially gorgeous. Collaborating artists Lecolion Washington on bassoon and Tomoko Kanamaru on piano were equally impressive. Jasper de Waal, former Principal horn with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, performed the Brahms Op. 40 Trio on the second half. I’ve heard this work performed numerous times by world class artists, but de Waal’s rendition was absolutely mesmerizing. His sound has a buoyancy and effortlessness which leaves the listener wanting more. Musically there were some interesting interpretations of this well known work, but they were presented with such confidence that the audience couldn’t help but be convinced. de Waal and his colleagues So-Hyun Altino on violin and Victor Asuncion on piano received a well deserved standing ovation.

After a short sound check and dress rehearsal with my colleagues on Thursday evening, we were ready for our Friday morning performance on one of the Contributing Artist recitals. Our work, Eurico Carrapatoso’s  Sete Melodias em Forma de Bruma for soprano, horn, and piano, is not well known, but our performance went well, and we got several positive comments after the recital. Thank you and bravo to my colleagues Claire Vangelisti and Richard Seiler for joining me in this performance.

Friday afternoon’s Artist Recital had a very interesting lineup. Bruce Richards of the Liège Philharmonic performed the first three works on the program on Wagner Tuba. He played two new works composed for him by students at the Liège Conservatory, as well as a rare piece by Jan Koetsier for Wagner Tuba and string quartet. Richards sounded fantastic, negotiating what would have been very difficult writing even for the horn with grace and finesse. The concert also featured several other new pieces, including the premiere of a horn quartet by James Naigus (Beale Suite), a trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano by Eric Ewazen, and Three Hunting Songs for Horn Quartet and Voice by Brian Holmes. Although the program was lengthy (over 2 hours), the performances were engaging and well executed.

The concert on Friday evening was a real highlight of my trip to IHS 45, with stellar performances from Abel Pereira (premiere of a new concerto by Luís Tinoco), Jasper de Waal (Mozart Concerto, K. 447), and Frank Lloyd (Britten Serenade). In addition to these major solo works, the audience was treated to some fine ensemble playing in Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide (horn section led by Jeff Nelsen), the famous “Abscheulicher” aria from Beethoven’s Fidelio (horn section led by Jon Boen), and Benjamin Britten’s horn quartet In Memoriam: Dennis Brain (Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse).  Kudos also to the Eroica Ensemble and their conductor Michael Gilbert (father of NY Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert) for providing the orchestral portions of the program.

Although I wish I could have attended more concerts – especially some of the Contributing Artist recitals – I was both impressed and inspired by the performances I heard.

Exhibits

This year I spent most of my exhibit time looking at music, especially teaching materials, solos, and chamber music. Here’s a quick rundown on what I picked up.

  • Fernando Morais, Brazilian Short Studies for Brass Instruments: A collection of etudes and duets based on Brazilian folk music, which I plan to use to spice up duet playing in lessons.
  • William Presser, Three Pieces for Solo Horn: I hadn’t heard of this solo work, but it was frequently performed by Marvin Howe, and has been recorded by Randall Faust.
  • Marvin Howe, The Solo Hornist: Arrangements of well known tunes for horn and piano, with accompaniment CD. I’m always looking for short, lyrical works to help fill out recitals and to recommend to students.
  • Susan Salminen, Fanfare for Horn and Timpani: I heard this work on a recording by Kent Leslie, and thought it might make a nice addition to my upcoming recital of music for horn and percussion.
  • Edward Troupin, Divertimento for Trumpet, Horn, and Trombone: New piece to read in our faculty brass trio. Looks very interesting!

I didn’t try any horns this time around, but there was the usual assortment of horns and accessories, showcased by exhibitors from all over the world. One of the newest products was a case by Wiseman of London. Though this is their first attempt at a horn case, Wiseman is a leading name in cases for all types of musical instruments. Their product looks incredibly well made, and the craftsmanship is evident in every component of the case. Buying one of their cases would be a considerable investment, but given the high (and rising) cost of horns, the price of protection for one’s instrument might just be worth it. Their cases also come with a lifetime warranty. My only concern with this case would be if it could actually fit in the overhead bins or under the seat of a very small aircraft, like the Embraer ERJ 145. I’ve flown on these jets quite a bit, and they are very cramped.

Lectures

To round out my visit, I attended two lectures, presented by John Ericson of Arizona State University, and Tiffany N. Rice Damicone, recent Doctoral Graduate from Ohio State University. You can read a brief overview of Dr. Ericson’s presentation at Horn Matters (A Masterclass with Philip Farkas on Musicianship), but I will add that it was really cool to see some rare video footage of one of the icons in the horn world. Thanks to Dr. Ericson for sharing this great resource! Dr. Damicone’s lecture was equally interesting, and was based on research conducted for her dissertation, “The Singing Style of the Bohemians” – A Study of the Bohemian Contributions to Horn Pedagogy, Western Perspectives on Czech Horn Playing and Analysis of the Teachings of Zdenek Divoky’ at the Academy of Performing Arts (D.M.A. diss., Ohio State University, 2013). Her presentation was well organized and delivered quite effectively. The handout from the lecture lists several little-known Czech resources which I look forward to exploring.

That about does it for this report. If you’ve read this far then you were probably at the symposium anyway, but if you weren’t I hope that this summary inspires you to attend a future horn workshop or symposium (next year’s symposium will be in London). They really are special events, and every horn player should attend at least one of them. I’ll close on a bit of a personal note by saying that I truly enjoyed reconnecting with friends and colleagues at IHS 45, including some friends from graduate school that I hadn’t seen in several years. Let’s keep in touch!

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Post Hiatus Reflection and Introducing the Solo CD

Our son Nicholas is one month old today, so it seemed a fitting time to jot down some thoughts about the past few weeks, and to look ahead to what the summer has in store. Things have been a bit hectic around the house, to say the least, but I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. After the birth I took a few days off from the horn, and it was wonderful not to worry about work, horn playing, or anything else except taking care of our child. Although we haven’t exactly settled into a routine yet with the baby, I’ve been fortunate (thanks to my wife!) to be able to work in some practice time each day on the horn. Things were slow going for the first week or so after taking time off – 30 minutes here and there, then 40 minutes, and so on – but I’m pretty much back in shape. This is none too soon, as I have a recital coming up on Tuesday for a local church’s summer concert series. These summer concerts are great fun, and are free admission. For this recital two of my colleagues and I will be reprising our program from a few months back, which features music by Portuguese composer Eurico Carrapatoso.

In other horn-related news I’m very excited to announce the release of my solo CD Jan Koetsier: Music for Horn on the MSR Classics label. This project has been a tremendous learning experience, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to do it. If you’d like to read my previous articles about the recording process, you can do so at these links. Please excuse my less than creative titles for these posts!

If you are considering a project of your own I hope that you’ll find these candid and somewhat informal ramblings helpful, or at the very least entertaining. Although I had listened to the final .wav files for the master recording, it somehow seemed different (in a good way) to actually put the finished product into my computer’s optical drive and just sit back and listen. There is a brief sample on MSR’s website (see link above), and here are a few more short clips. I might also add that the CD not only sounds good, but looks fantastic thanks to cover art by Markus Bleichner and design and layout by Rob LaPorta and the folks at MSR.

Romanza, Op. 59, No. 2

If you like what you hear, I hope that you will consider purchasing the entire CD. For now, you can order it from the MSR website, but in the near future the album will also be available for digital download from Amazon.com and other distributors. Check back here for updates! As for the rest of the summer, I’ll be staying close to home for the most part, although I plan to keep posting here every week or two. Although I haven’t been writing much for the last few weeks, I did jot down some ideas for at least a dozen or so new articles, including reviews of recent books and recordings. For fans of my Kopprasch Project, I plan to get at least a few more etudes recorded this summer, hopefully completing the final ten studies by the end of this year. Looking towards the end of the summer – which will be here in the blink of an eye – I’ll be gearing up to perform at the 45th International Horn Symposium, July 29th-August 3rd at the University of Memphis. As always, this year’s symposium promises to be an extravaganza of all things horn. If you are anywhere near Memphis, TN (or even if you’re not), you won’t want to miss it!

Upcoming Performances: Black Bayou Brass, Carrapatoso, and more

I have several performances coming up in February, March, and April, making for a busy but very exciting semester.

On March 27th, I’ll be performing with Black Bayou Brass for our annual faculty recital at ULM. Our program will include two substantial multi-movement works, Jean-François Michel’s  Suite for Trumpet, Horn and Trombone, and Anthony Plog’s Trio for Brass. Michel is a professor at the Haute Ecole de Musique in Fribourg, and is a prolific composer and arranger for brass. Michel’s composition puts a new twist on a traditional form, with plenty of great writing for all three instruments. If you’re familiar with Tony Plog’s brass quintet compositions, you’ll hear some of the same elements in his trio. At roughly 20 minutes in length – including cadenzas for each player –  this is a big piece. For a great recording of this work, check out this album from the University of Maryland Brass Trio. We’ll be joined by trumpet graduate student Alex Heikkila for Jan Koetsier’s Quartettino, Op. 33, No. 2. Like many of Koetsier’s compositions, the Quartettino is both witty and virtuosic. In addition to these works we’ll be premiering Coloring with Water, a new brass trio composition by Mel Mobley, head of the theory and composition program at ULM. The piece incorporates a number of metric modulations, making for some very interesting and complex rhythms. Although it’s a bit challenging to line up all of these rhythmic devices, Coloring with Water has several sections which really groove.

After that I’ll be shifting gears to the music of Portuguese composer Eurico Carrapatoso. On April 9th I’ll be performing his Sweet Rustica for horn and piano and Sete Melodias em Forma de Bruma, Op. 16, with my colleagues Claire Vangelisti (soprano) and Richard Seiler (piano). Both pieces are very well written; idiomatic, but challenging in some places. Here’s some information on the Sweet Rustica, quoted from the publisher’s website (Editions BIM).

Sweet Rustica is an informal piece that recreates, through a constant game of words, the old baroque form. It begins with Prelúdico, an allegory to the wonderful prelude in C minor in the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach. While in the Allemande, by which I mean Almôndega do 2° Modo, there is a sonorous universe of total contemplation. In Giga à Mirandesa (adaptation of the famous Mirandum, Mirandum, from Trás-os-Montes) the bells from my village are present. In Aria da Capo Espichel, just like in Cabo Espichel, a convent that crosses the paths lies there in ruins. It is a forlorn scene, with the sea behind the building representing or symbolizing pure escapism. Then follow the old Victian La Folia in Sarabanda e Sóniabanessa and Ensopado de Bourrée, a real concentration of energy. The piece ends with Postlúdico, the devolution of the musical work, with its hypnotic ostinati and with the peacefulness of “all the Alentejos of this world”. The music thus melts away in pure sound. Eurico Carrapatoso

Make sure you check out the audio samples as well, excerpted from this excellent recording by J. Bernardo Silva. The first movement especially grabs your attention! To my knowledge the Sete Melodias have not been published, but we were able to get a copy of this beautiful work directly from the composer.  Check out this YouTube video to listen to a recording of the first movement. Because of the fairly high tessitura and overall lightness of sound required in several of the movements, I’m seriously considering playing this work on a descant horn. Later this year we’ll perform the piece again at at the 45th International Horn Symposium.

In addition to these two chamber music concerts, I’ll be conducting the Northeast Louisiana Horn Ensemble on their spring concert on April 8th,  and performing in concerts with the Monroe, Rapides, and Shreveport Symphony Orchestras. I’m looking forward to working with great colleagues and students on all of these performances!

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