Upcoming Recital: Music for Horns and Organ

pipe-organ-in-church-11288023147MRq2On Tuesday, October 7th, I’ll be performing my annual faculty recital. The venue for this performance will be First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, Louisiana, which has a wonderful pipe organ in the sanctuary. (The image at right is NOT of the organ at First Pres., but rather a stock public domain image.) Two good friends and colleagues will join me on the program; Richard Seiler on organ, and Andrew Downing on horn. Seiler is Professor of Piano at ULM, and a wonderful collaborative artist on the organ as well. Downing is a very active freelancer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and also serves as a District Manager for Music and Arts. Andy and I met several years ago while attending the Brevard Music Center, and have stayed in touch over the years. I’m delighted that he was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to collaborate with me.

Our program will feature several original and arranged works for solo horn with organ, as well as two works for horn duo with organ.  There is a fairly large repertoire of works for horn and organ, and many of them are quite substantial. If you are interested in finding out more about this unique and fun repertoire, as well as some general tips on performing with the organ, I highly recommend a dissertation by Kristen Michele Johns, Original Compositions for Horn and Organ: Performance Problems Unique to the Medium with Discussion of Selected Solutions through Analysis of Representative Works D.M.A. diss., University of Cincinnati, 2006. This very useful document is available for free at the link above.

Here’s our program, followed by some brief notes about each work.

Celebration for Horn and Organ, Randall E. Faust (b. 1947)

Dr. Randall E. Faust is a Professor of Music at Western Illinois University, where he teaches applied horn and performs with the Camerata Woodwind Quintet and LaMoine Brass Quintet. In addition, he has served for many years on the Summer Horn Faculty at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. His many fine compositions for brass have been performed throughout the world and recorded numerous times. Celebration for Horn and Organ was composed in 1974 for an Easter Service at Calvary Church of the Brethren in Winchester, Virginia. This energetic but brief work features incisive fanfares in the horn and powerful chords in the organ.

Missa Muta: Five Miniatures for Horn and Organ, Op. 55, Bernhard Krol (1920-2013)

Bernard Krol’s name is well known among horn players, who have benefitted greatly from his compositions for the instrument. He studied composition in Berlin and Vienna, and performed as a horn player with the Berlin Staatskapelle. The following notes are taken from the album Twentieth Century Works for Horn and Organ (Ralph Lockwood, horn and Melanie Ninneman, organ, Crystal Records, S671, 1985).

Missa muta consists of fragments of the Mass mutated in a kind of spiritual impressionism which to me conveys the spirit of each segment of this ancient ritual. The horn intones a distant chant – melismatic, mysterious. This, since it intones all twelve tones, might be taken as the germinal nexus of the entire work…Krol’s ingenious organ registration provides a vivid foil to the horn’s sonorous cantilena. ~Ralph Lockwood

Meditazione, Op. 117, No. 2, Oreste Ravanello (1871-1938)

From 1897 until his death, Oreste Ravanello was organist at the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padova, having previously played the same role at the famous cathedral of San Marco in Venice. Like Bruckner, he was a child of the church; all his writings were liturgical in nature, and included a periodical for church organists. Meditazione is ternary (trinitarian?) in design with a brief coda. ~Ralph Lockwood, Twentieth Century Works for Horn and Organ, Crystal Records S671, 1985.

Cantabile No. 2 “For You”, Enrico Pasini (b. 1935)

Enrico Pasini was born in Rome, and studied piano and composition from an early age. He attributes his love of the organ to a meeting with the famous organist Ferdinando Germani. Pasini teaches at the Conservatory of Music in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, and is organist at the Church of Santa Rosalia. According to the composer, the Bay of Calamosca, which is located near the church, inspired him to compose the melody in his Cantabile No. 2.

Sesquicentennial Prelude, Randall E. Faust

A more extended work than his Celebration for Horn and Organ, Faust’s Sesquicentennial Prelude was composed in 2004 for Centenary United Methodist Church in Mankato, Minnesota. It takes as its basis the 19th century hymn tune by R. Kelso Carter, Standing on the Promises of God. The reflective opening builds in intensity, leading to a faster, straightforward presentation of the hymn tune. The organ melody is embellished by recurring fanfares in the horn, culminating in one last heroic statement.

Variations on “Divinum Mysterium,” Ronald Arnatt (b. 1930)

Born in 1930 and educated in England, Ronald Arnatt later immigrated to the United States and has since held many professorial and music director positions. He is currently organist and director of music at St. John’s Church in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Variations on Divinum Mysterium is a theme and set of variations based on the 11th-century chant of the same name. Several meter changes reflect the contour of the original chant melody, and the use of stopped (muted) horn creates a variety of timbres. ~Kristen Michele Johns, Original Compositions for Horn and Organ: Performance Problems Unique to the Medium with Discussion of Selected Solutions through Analysis of Representative Works, D.M.A. diss., University of Cincinnati, 2006.

Sinfonia in D, G. 29, Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)/arr. Michel Rondeau

Along with Arcangelo Corelli, Giuseppe Torelli is credited with developing the Baroque concerto and concerto grosso. As a violist, he performed with the orchestra of the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, and composed numerous works for string instruments. In addition, he wrote prolifically for the trumpet, including sonatas, sinfonias, and concertos for one to four trumpets. The Sinfonia in D, G. 29 was originally composed for two trumpets (or oboes) with string and basso continuo accompaniment, but works equally well for two horns and organ.

Deep Inside the Sacred Temple, from The Pearl Fishers, Georges Bizet (1838-1875)/ arr. James Boldin

Predating his famous opera Carmen by over ten years, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers achieved little critical acclaim during his lifetime. However, the work was revived in the late 19th century, and has since become a staple in opera houses worldwide. The plot of the opera centers around two friends, Nadir and Zurga. Act I begins with Zurga recognizing his long lost friend Nadir. The two enter the ruins of a Hindu temple, and reminisce about their love for the same woman, which almost destroyed their friendship. In this duet, by far the most well known excerpt from the opera, Nadir and Zurga pledge to remain loyal friends for life.

Fall Semester Preview

Now that the dust has settled a little bit from the first week of classes, here’s an overview of some activities coming up this semester. I’m very excited to be working with my colleagues and students again, and am looking forward to a great fall!

  • Faculty Recital, Music for Horns and Organ: This year my annual faculty recital (October 7th, First Presbyterian Church, Monroe, LA) will feature music for horn and organ, including several works for two horns and organ. I’ll be joined by Richard Seiler on organ and Andrew Downing on horn. Andy and I will give a repeat performance of this program on October 19th in the Dallas area. There is a lot of great repertoire to talk about on this program, so look for a follow up post in the near future.
  • Orchestral Performances: Highlights of this season (Fall 2014-Spring 2015) with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, and Monroe Symphony Orchestra  include Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish), and more!
  • Book Project: I’m very excited to be working on a new publication for Mountain Peak Music, forthcoming in 2015. If you aren’t familiar with this company be sure to visit their website because they have some terrific publications, especially for brass players. I’ll post more details about my project in a future article. As this book will be the major focus of my research efforts this semester (and beyond), I will out of necessity be posting less new content to this website. I still plan to keep the job listings page updated, as well as write periodic reviews and other articles, but it is unlikely that I’ll be able to write something new every week.
  • Horn Studio Recital: On November 11th the ULM Horn Studio will present an evening of solo and ensemble music for horns, including several works in the standard repertoire.

These are the major events for me this fall, and as other things of interest come up I will post updates here. In related news, I am in general having success adhering to my New Year’s Resolutions, although restricting my email checking is quite challenging at times.



Video: Choralfantasie for Horn and Organ, by Jan Koetsier

In early August I wrote about a recording session for Jan Koetsier’s Choralfantasie for Horn and Organ, Op. 89. Here is a live performance of the same piece, from a concert celebrating the 20th anniversary of the organ at First Presbyterian Church in Monroe, LA. My collaborator for this performance was Dr. Scot Humes, Associate Professor of Clarinet and Saxophone here at ULM, and also the organist at First Presbyterian. Dr. Humes graciously passed along a video of the concert. Although the audio was recorded using only the camera’s microphone, the quality is still pretty good. It is a substantial piece, lasting around 10 minutes, although the writing is much more difficult for the organ than the horn. The piece is a little too long to use in its entirety during a service, but as it is divided into several discrete sections there are quite a few cuts that could be made. If you can find a concert hall or church with a fine instrument as well as a good organist, the Choralfantasie would make a nice addition to a recital program.

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