Horn Ensemble Repertoire

This spring will mark the 6th season of the Northeast Louisiana Horn Ensemble, an ensemble made up of university and high school students, and community members. The group is a lot of fun to conduct, and we always have a good time putting together our programs. It’s one of the rare opportunities I get to actually direct an ensemble, and I look forward to working on my conducting chops each season. One of the challenges with a group like this is choosing repertoire which is both playable and challenging for all of the members. Picking repertoire and assigning parts is not an exact science, but it does take a bit of thought and consideration. With this group I usually like to program two or three fairly challenging pieces, often calling for 8 or 10 separate parts on each. From there we round out the program with 4, 5, and 6-part works. There is of course some doubling among the parts, but this is actually a good thing for the younger players. In assigning parts I try to take into consideration the age and experience level of each player (to the best of my knowledge), as well as rotating around the higher, more taxing parts. In some cases I will assign parts based on what a student might need to work on improving – for instance, reading bass clef. When I think back on my years in school, some of the most challenging music I played was in a horn ensemble. Though frustrating at times, preparing those pieces helped solidify my range, endurance, and many other skills.

Although our program isn’t completely set, I do have in mind some of the pieces for this season’s concert, which will be on Monday, April 8th at 7:30pm. There is a good mix of old and new, consisting of both original works and arrangements.

  • Jean Sibelius/arr. Takeshi Takahashi, Finlandia (6 horns) Corniworld Publications
  • Traditional American/arr. Steven Mahpar, Shenandoah (7 horns) Mops Music
  • Lowell Shaw, Selections from Fripperies (4 horns)
  • Gustav Mahler/arr. Marvin Howe, Zwei Blauen Augen (6 horns)
  • Giovanni Gabrieli/arr. Verne Reynolds, Cantos No. 2 (8 horns)
  • Alfred Newman, John Morris, Elmer Bernstein/arr. Steven Mahpar, Old West Medley (8 horns) Mops Music
  • Paul Basler, Harambee (5 horns)
  • Tom Kelly/arr. Patrick Hughes, True Colors (12 horns)

What are your favorite works for horn ensemble?  Feel free to comment!

Upcoming Concert: Les Cors de la Louisiane and the Northeast Louisiana Horn Ensemble

The end of the semester is usually packed with concerts of all shapes and sizes, and this evening I’ll be involved with two different horn ensembles on the same concert. The first ensemble is Les Cors de la Louisiane, a horn quartet made up of professional players and university teachers from Louisiana. You can follow the link for more information on this group and horn quartet playing in general, but in short I highly recommend the horn quartet as a viable brass chamber group. Thanks to groups like the American Horn Quartet and Quadre-The Voice of Four Horns (and many others), horn quartets now have a wide variety of new as well as traditional repertoire. Plus, it’s lots of fun! Here’s our half of the program for the concert.

  • Entrance Fanfare, Robert Dickow
  • Quartet in B-flat, F.C. Homilius
  • Three Movements for Four Horns, Kerry Turner
  • Fugue in C minor, J.S. Bach/arr. Lowell E. Shaw

It should be an exciting program, and we’ll be repeating it the following evening (Thursday) at Centenary College in Shreveport. For the Centenary College program we’ll be adding Five Miniatures by C.D. Wiggins and several madrigals arranged by Marvin Howe.

The other half of the program here will feature the Northeast Louisiana Horn Ensemble.  Now in its fifth season, the ensemble is composed of current ULM music students, community members, and area high school students. I really enjoy getting to work with students and other horn players in this format, and it’s a great opportunity for me to work on my conducting skills! Here’s our program.

  • Hunting Scene from The Moldau, Smetana/arr. G. E. Holmes
  • Music from Silverado, Broughton/arr. Steven Mahpar
  • Panis Angelicus, Franck/arr. Leigh Martinet
  • In These Delightful, Pleasant Groves, Purcell/arr. Marvin Howe
  • My Lord, What a Mornin’, Traditional/arr. Steven Mahpar
  • Motown Hijackers, Jukka Harju
  • Pie Jesu, from Requiem Faure/arr. Ken Bell
  • Frippery No. 8, Barbershop, Lowell E. Shaw

Of particular note in this list is the music from Silverado, a great but challenging arrangement for 10 horns and tuba, and Motown Hijackers, by Finnish hornist Jukka Harju. This unique piece is from the new publication YouPlay!, and includes a play-along accompaniment CD. One of my students will also be guest conducting, which is always a good opportunity to pursue whenever you have the chance. Conducting forces you to listen more closely to an entire ensemble, and can really help solidify musical and technical concepts.

If you are in the Monroe or Shreveport area, feel free to come out and enjoy an evening of music for horns!   The Monroe concert is at 7:30pm tonight in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the Shreveport concert is at 7:30pm on Thursday in the Hurley Music Building at Centenary College.

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