Thailand Tour: Day 6

Today we had the opportunity to work with some of the talented students here at Mahidol University (the name is pronounced “Ma-hee-don” – sorry for not saying this earlier!) I heard five students play in the horn master class, and they were all extremely well prepared, regardless of age or experience level. Daren is clearly doing some amazing things here, and it shows in the quality of his students. The works performed in the master class were:

Haydn, Concerto No. 1, 1st movement
Douglas Hill, Song Suite in Jazz Style, 1st movement
Krol, Laudatio
F. Strauss, Fantasie, Op. 2
F. Strauss, Concerto, Op. 8, 1st movement

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It was particularly fun hearing Doug Hill’s piece again, which I’ve worked on, but never performed. Working with a student on it in the master class has inspired me to pull the piece back out and program it sometime. After the class some of the students asked if we could take a picture.

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Shortly after the master class, we attended an encore performance by the ensemble Horn Pure, a horn octet which has been quite active over the last few years, and is quickly acquiring an international reputation. This performance was to thank the Dean of the College of Music at Mahidol for helping make the group’s trip to the 44th International Horn Symposium in Denton possible. I had heard great things about this group, and after hearing them live I can say that they definitely live up to their reputation! I also learned from Daren that the members of Horn Pure worked tirelessly to raise funds for their trip to the U.S., performing in a local mall in Bangkok for several hours each weekend for donations. Though in many respects Thai students don’t seem that different from college students elsewhere, they possess an incredible work ethic, especially when it comes to representing their country at the international level. I can’t say enough good things about this group, and I am excited to see where they go from here (how about a CD recording?) Here’s a picture from their concert.

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We are more than halfway through our stay in Thailand, but we still have two more days of performing and teaching at other schools in the area. Tomorrow we will spend several hours at Silpakorn University – updates to come.

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Thailand Tour: Day 5

After a light schedule yesterday (Day 4) we began our series of performances and master classes in Thailand with a recital at Mahidol University. The performance went very well, and our audience – made up mostly of brass students and faculty from the College of Music at Mahidol – were attentive and receptive. We got lots of positive feedback after the concert, and also posed for this picture in front of the concert hall. Notice the large Thai ceremonial drum in the background.

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In addition, our trumpet player Alex Noppe presented a clinic on jazz improvisation earlier in the day to a room full of eager students. Though some of the students were more familiar with jazz, and the English language, than others, they all listened to Alex’s presentation with rapt attention. After learning the basics of jazz improvisation, many of the students did some improvising while Alex accompanied on the piano.

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After a few hours rest it was time for our concert, which was held in the College of Music’s primary performance hall. I snapped this picture of the stage after our sound check.

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The venue had great acoustics, and it was easy to hear one another on stage. The performance came off well, and was broadcast on Thai public television. All in all, not bad for our first day of work! Tomorrow we will continue with individual instrument master classes in the morning. I’m very much looking forward to working with the horn players here, as I have heard wonderful things about them. We will also be treated to a performance by the horn ensemble Horn Pure, which has performed to acclaim at several International Horn Symposiums.

Thailand Tour: Day 1

This series of posts will be a travel diary of sorts, providing updates about our time here in Thailand. We arrived in Bangkok early this morning (Friday), after 20+ hours of flight time. Other than the extreme length, both of our flights (Houston to Doha and Doha to Bangkok) were quite pleasant, with excellent service and food provided by the staff of Qatar Airways. The biggest concern with the first leg of the journey was trying to stay awake for as much of the 14 hour flight as possible (to hopefully reduce jet lag). This task was made easier by the presence of individual monitors on our seat backs, along with numerous movies, games, and reading material. Here’s a shot of my monitor, showing a map of our location at the time (near Frankfurt, Germany).

20120601-192102.jpg We made sure to stay hydrated, and took frequent walks up and down the cabin to reduce stiffness and swelling. Our layover in Doha, Qatar was very short, and we began boarding the second flight almost immediately after disembarking from the first one. The 6 hour flight from Doha to Bangkok seemed short in comparison, and we arrived in Thailand tired and grungy, but generally in very good spirits. By necessity much of today was spent settling in to our surroundings. Our host Daren Robbins met us at the airport, and we departed for the campus of Mahidol University, which will be our home for the next 8 days. After dropping off our luggage at the on-campus hotel, we spent a good part of the morning touring the College of Music’s wonderful facilities. Mahidol has a beautiful campus, with gorgeous landscaping and traditional Thai buildings dotting the area. Here’s an example.

20120601-193207.jpg The College of Music is in a period of expansion, with a new concert hall currently under construction.

20120601-193434.jpg For lunch we sampled some delicious Thai cuisine at an on-campus restaurant. The food in Thailand is very inexpensive, and almost everyone eats out for most of their meals. We returned to our rooms this afternoon to get some much needed down time, and to do a little practicing. For me, everything was a little stiff after the long flights, but things were starting to limber up and feel closer to normal after about an hour or so of practice. We will be rehearsing our program tomorrow afternoon, so it was important to get the horn on my face for at least a little bit today. The 12 hour time difference is starting to catch up to me now, so I’m going to bring this post to a close. Tomorrow’s activities will include our trio rehearsal, as well as attending a performance by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra. On the program: the Symphony No. 1 of Brahms! Stay tuned for more updates.

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