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.

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.)

Friday Review: Favorite Duet Collections

In his book Collected Thoughts on Teaching and Learning, Creativity, and Horn Performance, Douglas Hill begins the chapter titled “Horn Duets Reviewed” with the following statement.

Duets are a wonderful and practical way for just two individuals to experience the challenges and joys of chamber music. They can serve as effective tools for teachers to share more than just words with their students. Duets can also help to build better section players by focusing on ensemble, intonation, blend, and articulation. And they are fun! [p. 162]

I agree completely, and have many fond memories of playing duets with teachers and fellow students at almost every level of my musical education. Doug’s reviews are very thorough, and many of the collections he lists are among my favorites too. Since the publication of Collected Thoughts in 2001, I’ve come across some newer publications to add to the list. As with the standards included in Collected Thoughts, these newer duet collections cover a wide range of difficulties and styles, and are highly recommend for use in lessons.

  1. Just for Two: Jazz, Vince Gassi, Eighth Note Publications, 2008 This collection belongs to a series of duet collections in jazz style, and according to the composer has “been transposed into keys that are more suitable for horn players at this level.”  That being said, some of the writing, particularly for the 1st part, emphasizes the upper register, and both parts can be quite challenging rhythmically. When it comes to interpreting jazz rhythm and style, horn players are often far less experienced than their colleagues in the trumpet and trombone sections. These duets can aid horn players in developing a more informed approach to jazz phrasing and inflection.
  2. Long Tone Duets,David Vining, Mountain Peak Music, 2011 One of my favorite newer collections, I use these duets regularly in lessons, especially with younger students. For a more extensive review, see this post. 
  3. Music for Two: Duets in a Jazzy & Classical Style, Various composers, Last Resort Music Publishing, 2001 This eclectic collection features the work of several Los Angeles-based composers, including the legendary studio horn player James Thatcher. As you might guess, much of the music is influenced by film and television scores. The writing can be challenging in places, and many of the pieces could be used to provide variety on recitals or other concerts.
  4. Progressive Duets, composed and arr. Larry Clark, Carl Fischer, 2006 This very nice two-volume collection covers easy to advanced difficulty levels, and I particularly like using the easier duets found in Volume 1 with younger students. Arrangements include music from J.S. Bach and Telemann to Franck and Tchaikovsky, to name a few.
  5. Seventeen Horn Duets,arr. Marvin Howe, The Hornists’ Nest, 1980 The oldest collection of those listed here, these short works are still musically satisfying. Marvin Howe writes that these duets “were selected in 1973-75 as melodic material for my student, Wesley Yard. The second horn parts were improvised at his lessons, and later notated at his request…The author hopes that these perhaps deceptively simple duets will bring enjoyment to all young horn players, ages 12 to 92.”
  6. Ultimate Horn Technique, ed. John Ericson, Horn Notes Edition, 2011 I’ve reviewed this excellent publication here, but thought it was worth mentioning again because of the intonation duets found in the appendix. Though not intended to be as melodically interesting or stylistically diverse as the previous collections, these duets can still be used for effective instruction in lessons or small ensembles. One suggestion when playing these duets is to have a CD or electronic tuner sound a tonic drone for reference.

Do you have some favorite duet collections not listed here or in Doug’s book? Feel free to comment below.

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