Gearing up for the Southeast Horn Workshop

This weekend I’ll be heading to my old stomping ground of Boone, NC for the 2011 Southeast Horn Workshop, which is being held on the campus of Appalachian State University.  I’m looking forward to catching up with colleagues and former teachers, as well as hearing some fabulous horn playing by guest artists John Ericson, David Jolley, and Gail Williams.  As always, I plan to peruse the music and other publications, and I will definitely be picking up copies of John Ericson’s new low horn and technique books.   As far as these topics go, I feel that you can never have enough good resources in your library.  I’ll admit it, I’m an etude junkie!

For my part I’ll be involved in several different activities at this year’s SEHW.  On Friday I’ll be judging a portion of the College Solo Competition with Skip Snead, Professor of Horn at the University of Alabama, presenting a session called “Teaching Younger Horn Players,” and possibly teaching several 20-minute mini lessons to prospective students.  To my knowledge this hasn’t been done in a long time, if ever, at this particular regional workshop.  It should be very interesting to see what we can do in such a short time.

On Saturday I’ll be performing a brand new work for solo horn by a former college classmate, William Withem.  The work is titled Agamemnon, and is really a well-written piece, very idiomatic and fun to play.  Here are some program notes on the piece, quoted from Bill’s website.  Many thanks to Bill for taking the time and care to produce a very fine new work for horn.

In Richard Strauss’ opera Elektra, the character of Agamemnon (Elektra’s father) was murdered upon his return home from the Trojan War. The opera focuses on Elektra’s plot to exact revenge against Agamemnon’s murderers. Strauss represents Agamemnon with an ominous three-note theme that outlines a D minor chord. It first appears at the very beginning of the score, and is heard in various forms throughout the remainder of the opera. As a hypothetical question, one may wander what becomes of the memory of Agamemnon? Was he despised enough to be murdered, or should he be celebrated as a victorious commander of war? That question, plus Strauss’ motive for Agamemnon, serve as the point of inspiration for this piece; a character and thematic exploration of the Trojan War commander. The motive is treated in various forms of altered rhythms and tonal qualities, set in contrasting sections.  Each section relates to various aspects of the character: an opening call to summon his soldiers, a war march, a song to lament departing from one’s family in wartime, and a murderous dance of death.

If you happen to be in the area this weekend, I encourage you to check out the Southeast Horn Workshop.  There will be plenty of horn-related concerts, presentations, and master classes for everyone.

Happy 2011 and an Inspiring Story

Although there are still a few days left before my semester begins, I am officially cranking the blog back up for 2011!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all the best in your endeavors for this year.  2011 promises to be an exciting and busy year, with a number of horn-related activities in the works.  Here’s a brief summary of some upcoming events, through the month of March.

January 15: Chamber Arts Brass Trio performance at the Big XII Trombone Conference, Texas Tech University

February 19: Horn Quartet Performance at Northwestern State University of Louisiana

February 22: Chamber Arts Brass Trio Recital

March 4-6: Southeast Horn Workshop, Appalachian State University

March 22: Faculty Recital, Music for Horn and Guitar

Additional performances with the Monroe and Rapides Symphony Orchestras.

I’ll be posting more about these events in the future, but two events which I’m particularly excited about are the Southeast Horn Workshop, where I’ll be performing a newly written piece for solo horn by William Withem, an old college classmate, and now an established composer.  Later that month I’ll be collaborating with guitarist Daniel Sumner for a recital of music for horn and guitar.  Horn and guitar is an unusual combination, and there is some really cool music for this instrumentation.  We also hope to premier on this recital a new piece for horn, guitar, and piano by Mel Mobley, Associate Professor of Theory and Composition at ULM.

To close out this first post of 2011 I’ll share an inspiring story I recently heard about on NPR.  The story, titled “Amid Unrest, Juarez Symphony Orchestra Plays On,” opens with this line.

It’s been a rough couple of years in Juarez. Known as the murder capital of Mexico, Juarez is plagued by drug-related violence and organized crime. A quarter of the population is estimated to have fled, and thousands of businesses have closed. This year, the city even canceled its Independence Day celebration for the first time ever.

But the Juarez Symphony Orchestra plays on to grateful audiences that choose violins as a refuge from violence.

The article is well written, and yet another testament to the power of the arts to uplift and empower in even the most difficult of situations.

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