Here’s the second in my series of reports on the 44th International Horn Symposium in Denton, TX. As with yesterday, today’s schedule was packed with numerous performances, including my performance on one of the contributing artist recitals. The first event of the day for me was a clinic titled “Horn in the Woodwind Quintet,” presented by Nicholas Smith and the Lieurance Woodwind Quintet from Wichita State University. Professor Smith offered some very practical tips for horn players in wind quintets, and his points were expertly demonstrated by the group. Their program included a complete performance of Barber’s Summer Music, Op. 31, one of the standards in the wind quintet repertoire, as well as works by Jacques Ibert, Scott Joplin, and Anton Reicha. A couple of tips that really stood out to me were 1) horn players must often re-interpret dynamic markings to match the group and 2) an orchestral concept of sound and articulations really doesn’t work too well in a wind quintet. Using examples from their program, the quintet demonstrated each passage twice, the first time with the horn performing in a less desirable manner, and the second time in an ideal manner. One last comment that interested me was about equipment. Professor Smith said that since most of his work is in the Wichita Symphony, he plays a bigger, more orchestrally suited instrument (Paxman triple, I think). He said that he has tried switching to a lighter horn for the quintet, but it just doesn’t work for him. As a result, he has to be particularly sensitive when he plays in the quintet, adjusting his sound, dynamics, and articulations to emulate a lighter instrument. This was a great lecture, and if you haven’t heard the Lieurance Quintet before they have several CDs available on Amazon.
Next, I stopped by one of the exhibit rooms to purchase some music – one of my favorite things to do at conferences. Having already bought a good deal of solo and ensemble music earlier this year, I focused on methods and etude books. Two items I really look forward to working with are Randall Faust’s A Hornist’s Handbook of Studies for Flexibility and Technical Development, and Paul Basler’s two volumes of Etudes for Horn. Check out a review of these etudes at Horn Matters. One other publication I picked up is a reprint of a short handbook by Christopher Leuba called The Rules of the Game. I’ve only thumbed through it a few times today, but it appears to be similar in some ways to The Art of Musicianship by Philip Farkas: i.e. it uses excerpts from the standard orchestral and solo repertoire to set out some basic principles of music making.
After lunch I squeezed in a little down time before playing on the 3:00pm contributing artists recital. Other performers and repertoire on that recital included:
- Susan McCullough, Nancy Joy, Peter Luff, Jeffrey Snedeker (In the Mind’s Eye: Images for Horns and Orchestra by James Beckel)
- Bernhard Scully (world premiere of French Suite for brass trio by Joseph Blaha) A very interesting piece that I’ll be checking out in the future.
- Gene Berger (world premiere of Jazzical #4 for horn, trombone, tuba, and piano by Howard J. Buss)
- Laurence Lowe (Intermezzo by Laurence Lowe, Caccia from the Partita by Verne Reynolds, and Caccia from Sonata No.1 by Laurence Lowe)
All of these players (and their supporting artists) sounded fantastic – these were tough acts to follow! But overall I felt good about our performance of Jan Koetsier’s Sonata for Horn and Harp, Op. 94, and got some nice comments from people afterwards. It really is a well written piece, and horn and harp is a nice combination.
Changing gears completely from yesterday evening’s concert, tonight featured Andrew Clark, Steven Denroche, Paul Hopkins, and Bruce Atwell performing music for 2, 3, and 4 horns from the Baroque era. This was an entertaining and very informative concert, performed exclusively on period instruments. Andrew Clark was able to do things on the natural horn that would be difficult even with valves. My favorite work on the program was probably the Concerto in F Major by Johann David Heinichen. Heinichen was the court composer at Dresden in the early 18th century, and Clark informed the audience that Heinichen wrote this work for the first two full-time professional horn players (prior to them, trumpet players doubled on horn).
Due to some prior commitments in Monroe, tomorrow will be my last day in Denton. I plan to attend a lecture in the morning, so be sure to check back here in the next day or so for an update and some summary comments about my experience at this year’s symposium.