IHS 50 Report, Final Thoughts

This is the fourth and final part of a series on the 50th International Horn Symposium (You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here). Although IHS 50 will last through tomorrow (Saturday), I am now at home and reflecting on this year’s symposium. 50 years of horn symposia is a big deal, and I’m sure there were many discussions about how to appropriately commemorate the event. I think IHS 50 was a rousing success, with credit and gratitude going first to Gene Berger and the Ball State University faculty and staff, but also to the IHS Advisory Council, and all the members of the International Horn Society for their part in making this event a reality. As is my usual practice, here are some summary thoughts about the symposium.

  • Looking backwards, looking forwards: Every conference has a particular vibe, created in large part by the host organization and venue, as well as the various lectures, performances, and numerous other less tangible details. For example, IHS 47 in Los Angeles had a very cosmopolitan feel, which fit very well with the city’s role as a cultural, artistic, and economic hub. IHS 48 in Ithaca was very different, given the beautiful natural surroundings of the Finger Lakes region in  New York. IHS 50 was somewhere in between, I feel, but with the added ceremony and nostalgia befitting a Golden Anniversary. Several events looked backwards over the past 50 years, while others looked forward to the future. I thought it was a good mix, and offered something of interest for just about everyone.
  • Exhibits and Gear: Though horns, mouthpieces, and accessories were not a focus for me during this particular IHS (I was on a pretty tight schedule), I did browse past most of the vendor tables. Horn makers and retailers both large and small were in high attendance, and the exhibits were all located in a single building, although signage could have been a bit better in pointing out where specific vendors were located. Sheet music tables were nicely insulated from the instrument exhibits, and private instrument testing rooms were reserved in a more quiet part of the building. Lots of new products were on display, including carbon fiber bell inserts for Marcus Bonna soft top cases, a new carbon fiber case from Pope Repair, and the new case by BAM, a longtime maker of cases for string instruments. All of these products are worth a serious look if you are in the market for a new case. Houghton Horns had their complete line of H series mouthpieces, including the new H-4, and Osmun Music unveiled their commemorative IHS 50 mouthpiece.
  • Social Time: Complimentary coffee and tea were a very nice touch at this symposium, and the Ball State Student Center provided plenty of comfortable spaces for meeting new people and catching up with colleagues. It’s always interesting to meet people with whom you’ve communicated electronically, and to put a real face and personality with their name.
  • Participant Ensembles: I didn’t participate in any of the late night horn ensemble reading sessions, but from the talk around the symposium they were very popular. Though not a huge area of interest for me at horn conferences – I’m usually trying to conserve chops and energy for other performances – I recognize how fun and engaging they can be for players of all levels. Perhaps more opportunities will be available at future symposia. Unlike some organizations, many IHS members are not professionals or students, but nonetheless have an abiding love and interest in all things horn-related. Finding the right balance among activities and services which benefit various members of the IHS is an ongoing process, and one which bears some frank discussion.
  • Future of the IHS: I was unable to attend an area representative meeting on Thursday morning, but from what I gather the agenda was largely concerned with ongoing efforts to increase membership in the IHS (see my article on why YOU should join the IHS here). I have seen a few posts on social media inquiring about what benefits IHS members enjoy the most, and why non-members have not joined. I sincerely hope that these conversations continue, and yield some productive results. In the end the Horn Society won’t be able to please everyone, but I hope that some changes can be made to ensure that the IHS flourishes for another 50 years. One issue that I believe is common to all the like-instrument societies (International Trombone Association, International Trumpet Guild, etc.) is identity. Is the IHS a professional organization? Is it for amateurs? Is it for students? Is it for teachers? The answers to all of the above questions is a resounding YES, but therein lies the problem. Catering to the interests of all these parties is a monumental task, and there is no magic bullet to increasing membership. Perhaps better marketing and a greater social media presence will help, but this takes dedicated time and effort, and may in fact drive away other members of the society. I’ve always wondered why more professional horn players aren’t members of the IHS, and if there is a way to bridge the gap and encourage them to join. Overall, though, I have confidence in our leadership and trust them to help find a path that promotes the Goals and Aims of the IHS.
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Five Reasons to Join the International Horn Society

horncallcoverFor several years I’ve had the privilege of serving as an area representative for the International Horn Society, with one of my duties being to encourage and promote membership in the organization. Recently I received some information regarding the number of IHS members in each state here in the U.S., and the bottom line is that more horn players should join the IHS. I won’t reveal any numbers or name any names, but in my state the number of actual members was far lower than I expected, especially given the number of professional, student, and amateur players that are active in Louisiana. We did not have the fewest members of any state, but we certainly could stand to bump up our numbers. Rather than consider the reasons why horn players might not join the IHS – some of them possibly valid, some perhaps not – I thought the best way to help promote membership would be to list a few big reasons why you should join. Here are five, though the list could certainly include more!

  1. The International Horn Society Website: The official online home of the IHS, www.hornsociety.org, is a wonderful resource, with lots of great content available to everyone. Whether you peruse the classified ads and job listings, search the Horn Call index, or shop for music using the Online Music Sales page, there is a wealth of information on this site. However, the best content in my opinion is available only to IHS members, including electronic copies of The Horn Call, and video recordings from a 2010 survey on European horn playing conducted by Dan Phillips. If you are a frequent visitor to the site (including hornplayer.net) but have not yet joined the IHS, consider supporting it through your membership. Organizing, maintaining, and updating a website is no small task, and your membership would help defray some of the costs.
  2. Thesis Lending Library: This repository of horn-related knowledge and research is one of the most extensive collections available outside of a major university library, and is free for IHS members. A $45 refundable deposit is required.
  3. Commissions and Competitions: Each year the IHS supports the creation of new works for the horn through its Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund. If you’ve ever wanted to take part in commissioning new music for the horn but weren’t able to acquire the funds, consider joining the IHS and applying for an award from the Meir Rimon Fund. In addition to commissioning assistance, the IHS also hosts an annual Composition Contest, as well as several scholarship competitions aimed at supporting horn students.
  4. Membership is Relatively Inexpensive: IHS dues are very affordable, especially considering the variety of programs that the organization supports. A student or club membership (8 or more members submitting dues together) is $30 annually, which amounts to $2.50 a month. If money is keeping you from joining the IHS, consider that forgoing one cup of Starbucks coffee (or other suitable luxury purchase) per month would more than cover the cost.
  5. Networking/Collegiality/Friendship: Last but certainly not least on my list of reasons to join the International Horn Society is the opportunity to meet new colleagues and friends. As with any organization of its kind, the IHS brings together numerous backgrounds, interests, and experience levels, with the one common thread being a love of the horn. There are of course occasional disagreements among members about the direction and goals of the society, but in my experience the IHS is an incredibly friendly and welcoming organization, with a history of strong leadership.

Another component of the data was the number of libraries with memberships, and I assume that most of these come from universities and/or large public libraries. Again, these numbers were far below what I expected, even in states with very large populations. While I find the lack of individual memberships in the IHS difficult to explain, I think one big reason behind the low/declining number of library memberships is that many libraries are transitioning to digital databases which already include full-text subscriptions to journals such as The Horn Call. EBSCO host is one such database. I imagine that most libraries don’t see the need to join the IHS for the printed journal when they are already purchasing access to it through a database like EBSCO.

I hope this post has given you some food for thought, and I encourage all horn players of any level to support our official organization.

IHS Area News

One of my main duties as an area representative for the International Horn Society is to stay up to date on horn-related news and events from around the state, and to share that information with as many horn players as possible.  Thanks to the efforts of IHS webmaster Dan Phillips (of the University of Memphis), we have a website dedicated to that purpose, Louisiana Horn News.  I recently updated the news section of the site with information from Spring and Summer 2011, but I could still use more material!  I know the horn players in Louisiana are extremely busy, and it would be great for us to share what we’ve been doing – not only with each other, but with our students, and colleagues from around the country.  We also have a Facebook group with the same name, and I encourage anyone who’s interested to join it.   Here are some of the things Louisiana horn players have been up to lately.

  • Catherine Roche-Wallace (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) performed and presented at the 43rd International Horn Symposium at San Francisco State University, June 20-25.
  • Seth Orgel (Louisiana State University, Atlantic Brass Quintet) performed and taught at the 18th annual Atlantic Brass Quintet International Seminar, held on the campus of Sonoma State University (June 13-18) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (July 24-August 6).  Seth also performed the Poulenc sextet with Christopher O’Reilly and the LSU TIMM Quintet.
  • Seth’s students have also been busy. Dafydd Bevil, a graduating senior, will be attending Roosevelt University in Chicago for his MM, in the studio of Dale Clevenger, beginning in Fall 2011.  Mathew Taylor, a graduating master’s student, performed with the Ohio Light Opera in Summer 2011.
  • James Boldin (University of Louisiana at Monroe) was recently awarded the Dr. William R. Hammond Professorship in Liberal Arts.  The appointment is for three years, renewable annually.  James plans to use the funds from the professorship to record a solo CD and purchase a natural horn for the studio at ULM.
  • Thomas Hundemer (Shreveport Symphony, Centenary College) performed with the Des Moines Metro Opera orchestra in Des Moines, IA, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary music in Santa Cruz, CA.
  • Kristine Coreil (Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Shreveport Symphony) performed a guest recital of French music for horn and piano on February 16th at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
  • Les Cors de la Louisiane (Thomas Hundemer, Kristine Coreil, Craig Pratt, James Boldin) performed recitals in February and April at Northwestern State University of Louisiana and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

I’d love to include lots more information, so if you are a Louisiana Horn player and have news or would like to advertise an upcoming event, get in touch with me through the Louisiana Horn News website.   One special announcement goes out to horn students – join the IHS! – it’s a wonderful organization, and the membership dues – especially for students – are very reasonable. Membership in the IHS connects you to a tremendous network of horn players throughout the world.

Another Reason to Join the International Horn Society

As if you needed another reason to join this wonderful organization – which is made up of horn players from around the world – the IHS has recently made available Two Surveys of European Horn Playing Styles, one completed in 1964/65 by Wendell (Pete) Exline, and the other in 2010 by Dan Phillips (IHS webmaster and Associate Professor at the University of Memphis).  I have only been looking at the material for the last hour or so, but already I can see that there is a wealth of information here that will take a long time for me to process.  Both surveys include recordings of standard orchestral excerpts performed by prominent European horn players, as well as photographs of their embouchures and other related information.  Dan Phillips deserves a huge “BRAVO” from the horn playing community for making this research available, and I am looking forward to reading his conclusions – presumably to be published in a future issue of The Horn Call. Some of the content is publicly available at the link above, but the real treasures (audio and video recordings) are only open to IHS members.  If you are a horn player and haven’t joined the IHS, now is a great time – the information in these surveys alone is well worth the small annual membership fee, not to mention that you will be supporting a very fine organization.

 

New IHS Area Website

In my very first post on this blog I mentioned that I was an area representative for the International Horn Society.  As for what exactly an IHS Area Rep. does, I think the best description comes from the main IHS website.

Area Representatives serve the IHS by communicating society activities to IHS members in their state, province, or country, as well as sharing information about horn activities in their areas with the society worldwide.  Area Reps also assist in recruiting and welcoming new IHS members and in communication between members in their area.

Since the majority of an area representative’s duties involve active communication, many reps around the U.S. have created websites, Facebook groups, etc., to help disseminate information about horn-related activities at the regional, state, and local level.  However, a new initiative led by the IHS’s webmaster Dan Phillips and USA coordinator Elaine Braun has provided a uniform, easily updated platform for area reps to update their current websites or design new ones.  Using a free web design service called Weebly, area reps can design/update their sites so that they all follow a consistent format from state to state.  Weebly is very easy to use, and the results look clean and professional.

For an example of what an IHS area website designed on Weebly looks like, check out http://louisiana.hornsociety.org. Following some very simple instructions from Dan Phillips, I was able to convert everything from my previous area website over to the newer format.  The subdomain (louisiana.hornsociety.org) remained the same, so there was no need to create a new one.   As the Weebly interface is much easier to use than conventional web editing software like Dreamweaver, it will be a cinch to keep the site updated and add components like audio/video, an RSS feed, etc.

If you are an IHS member and don’t know who your area rep is, you can consult the IHS list of area representatives. If your state doesn’t currently have an area representative, consider serving the IHS in that position.  The time commitment is very manageable, and you will have an opportunity to communicate more closely with fellow horn players in your state and region.

I look forward to working with the new Louisiana Horn News website, and thanks again to Dan and Elaine for all their hard work!

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