Summer Update, Equipment, etc.

It’s past time for an update on this blog, and I apologize to my readers (if any are left!) that it’s been so long since my last post. While things have gone well the past several months, I – like everyone else – am looking forward to returning to “normal” as soon as is safely possible. The mood in my state and region is more positive now than it’s been in a long time, which is of course encouraging.

Equipment – A New Horn!

While I’ve played on Geyer/Knopf-style horns for the majority of my career, I appreciate many (though not all) of the qualities of large-bell, i.e. Kruspe-style, horns. I recently got the chance to try one of Yamaha’s Kruspe horns, the YHR 668II, and have been enjoying it a lot! It blows differently than my YHR 671, but there are some interesting similarities as well. Ergonomically the two instruments feel similar in my left hand, despite the design differences. The 668II takes a bit more air, but I am able get some brassiness in the sound when desired. If you compare images of the Yamaha 668II and the Conn 8D, you’ll notice the similarity of design. It’s not just been years, but decades since I last played an 8D, so I can’t really compare it with the Yamaha. Here’s a very brief audio sample from a recording I made for IHS 53. The excerpt is from Roger Jones’s Sketchbook for Horn and Piano.

Excerpt from Sketchbook for Horn and Piano, by Roger Jones

While I’m still adapting to this instrument, I’m having a great time doing it. One thing I discovered early on is that the 668II responds better to a mouthpiece with a slightly larger bore. In my case I switched from the Houser San Francisco model I was using on the 671 (#14 bore) to the Houser Standley GS12 model (#12 bore), keeping the same rim (Houser E model, 17.5mm). The Standley cup is slightly different than the San Francisco, so that may have impacted the results as well. The Standley model is not new for me, as I played on one for several years before making the move to the San Francisco. I won’t be selling my Geyer-style horn any time soon, but for the time being I plan to keep playing the big-bell horn regularly. If you’re in the market for a large-bell horn, the Yamaha 668II is worth a look.

IHS

This month marks my first year as Publications Editor for the International Horn Society. It continues to be an honor and privilege to serve the IHS in this position, especially following Bill Scharnberg’s 17-year tenure! I’m excited about the variety and number of articles that have been and continue to be submitted. Be sure to check out the May issue of The Horn Call if you have not done so already. On a related note, episodes of The Horn Call Podcast are available at podcast.hornsociety.org, and can also be found on Apple Podcasts and other major podcast outlets. As of this post, 13 episodes have been published (10 regular and 3 “bonus” episodes), with a total of 2,380 downloads. Given the niche market for this podcast, I think this is a respectable number. Guests so far have included: Andrew Pelletier, Ricardo Matosinhos, Gina Gillie, Margaret Tung, Jena Gardner, David Krehbiel, Frøydis Ree Wekre, John Ericson, Jonas Thoms, Albert Houde, Jeffrey Agrell, James Naigus, Drew Phillips, and Katy Ambrose. If you enjoy the podcast medium I hope you’ll subscribe to The Horn Call podcast. It is my hope it will serve as a bridge between IHS membership, content creators, and IHS leadership. It has been a pleasure speaking with each and every guest!

Summer Projects

In terms of teaching and performing obligations, this summer will be very light for me, but I have several other projects in the works. One is a book project for Mountain Peak Music, and another is a commissioning project. More details on both in future posts, I promise! Up next week is a woodwind quintet performance for the 5th annual New Music on the Bayou Summer Festival. If you are a fan of new music, be sure to check out the live-streams of these concerts. I’ve also submitted three pre-recorded videos for IHS 53: a solo performance – which includes the world premieres of works by Douglas Hill and Roger Jones – a ULM Horn Ensemble performance, and a presentation on burnout. The burnout presentation was originally scheduled for IHS 52 (which was cancelled), but it seemed just as appropriate this year! All three will be available to those who register for the symposium, which is scheduled for August 9-13, 2021.

I hope everyone has a lovely summer with plenty of rest and relaxation!

Fall 2020 Semester News

As our fall semester is nearly at the halfway point, I won’t even bother calling this post a semester “Preview.” Rather, here’s a brief update on some recent activities.

Fall Classes/Lessons

Like many places, my university is operating with a combination of face-to-face and online instruction. Things seem to be going well, and the faculty and students have done an admirable job adapting to the new environment.

ULM Horn Studio Fall 2020

Online Solo and Chamber Performances

We have been live-streaming a few concerts and recitals, and also releasing pre-recorded concert videos on our school’s YouTube Channel. While these aren’t quite the same experience as attending an in-person performance, they have been fun to put together, and will hopefully provide some musical enjoyment for audiences. Here are links to a recent faculty brass quartet recital and an upcoming horn and piano recital.

I would add that creating these has provided ample opportunities to work on my sound and video recording techniques, which are amateur at best. We experimented with various camera angles and settings, and I am still dealing with the learning curve on the various equipment and software. I think the audio is pretty good, at least!

The Horn Call Journal and Podcast

Since taking over the role of Publications Editor with the International Horn Society, I’ve been heavily engaged with preparing the October issue of The Horn Call. I’m glad to say that the journal is ready, with printed copies on their way to mailboxes and the electronic version already available online. I’m very grateful to the entire team at The Horn Call for their hard work. I hope you enjoy reading the October issue (cover image above), which features an in-depth article by Paul Neuffer on legendary Hollywood studio musician—and IHS Honorary Member—Vincent DeRosa. In addition to The Horn Call, the IHS also offers several other print and electronic publications, including an e-newsletter, Horn and More, produced by IHS Vice-President Kristina Mascher-Turner. We also have a monthly Horn Call podcast, which launched in August. It’s been a blast working on the podcast, and we have several wonderful guests lined up for coming episodes. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the first two episodes, check out the link below and subscribe using your normal podcast app to get updates.

https://www.hornsociety.org/publications/horn-call/podcast

Other News

In other news, I received word that my application for promotion to Professor of Music was approved! THANK YOU to my colleagues and mentors near and far who supported me through the process.

Thanks for reading this far, and stay safe!

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.

Friday Review: Arrangements Reviewed in The Horn Call

This week I didn’t write my own review, but will instead be sharing excerpts from a review of some brass trio arrangements I published through Cimarron Music Press. This very kind review by Jeffrey Snedeker appears in the February 2012 issue of The Horn Call (cover image at left), and looks at the following arrangements of works by Arcangelo Corelli and W.A. Mozart.

 

Corelli

  • Trio Sonata Op. 2, No. 1
  • Trio Sonata Op. 3, No. 2

Mozart

  • Divertimento I from Five Divertimenti for Three Bassett Horns, K. 439b
  • Divertimento III from Five Divertimenti for Three Bassett Horns, K.439b
  • Allegro from Divertimento for Violin, Viola and Cello, K. 563

Snedeker opens his review by summarizing the current state of affairs in brass trio music.

The repertoire for brass trio (usually trumpet, horn, and trombone) has a few good original works (Poulenc, Sanders, and Marek come to mind immediately), but this combination also has a growing collection of arrangements…James Boldin, horn teacher at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, has found some nice works from the Baroque and Classical periods that, taken together, provide a balanced diet for both younger and more experienced players. (The Horn Call, Vol. XLII, No. 2, Feb. 2012, p. 80)

He goes on to offer a very historically informed review of the arrangements, and also makes an excellent suggestion for improving one of the pieces.

I did miss the original movement titles for the op. 2, which I think would give a little more insight into the desired styles, even with the metronome markings included; for example to know the latter two are a Corrente and a Gavotte is more helpful than two Allegros. Also, the Largo second movement is actually Allegro in the original-an easy fix by Cimarron in future printings. (Ibid., p. 80)

Snedeker is right on the money with his suggestion, and I don’t really know why the movement titles were left off in publication.  I must have missed it when I went over the proof, but I plan to pass this information along to Cimarron. The remainder of the review is in general very positive – for the full article you’ll have to pick up a copy of the most recent Horn Call. I know that Professor Snedeker must receive many more submissions than he could possibly review for each issue, and I appreciate his taking the time to consider my materials so thoroughly. Here are his closing thoughts on these arrangements.

In the end, all five pieces chosen for arrangement are excellent for different reasons, whether for technical demands or musical challenges, and are highly recommended for both school and professional brass chamber libraries. (Ibid., p. 80)

If you are a member of a small brass ensemble and are looking for some new  repertoire, I encourage you to check out these arrangements. I think they work quite well, and can provide some breadth and variety to your next performance. For a sample of one of these arrangements, here’s the closing section from the last movement of Mozart’s Divertimento I, K. 439b.  This recording actually predates the publication of these arrangements, and the performers are Marilynn Gibson, trumpet, James Boldin, horn, and Micah Everett, trombone.  The recording is from a live performance on February 4, 2010. This section is notable for the mid and low range workout for the horn player.

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