Mid-South 2011 Part I: The Most Popular Horn Quartet Composer and a Noble Finale

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The opening day for the 2011 Mid-South Horn Workshop, hosted by Dr. Paul Stevens at the University of Kansas, was a big day!

I arrived after lunch and set up my exhibit for Horn Notes Edition after a bit of an inadvertent tour of the building. What happened was my mental map of the building is the 1980s building without the new wing. So I went to the old wing and could not find registration, eventually had to ask and they pointed me to the very obvious and easy to find registration table in the newer part of the building.

As things started slow in the sheet music sales room I took a quick visit over the horn vendors, which I will report on later but they have a large room and a great selection of instruments to test. For sure there will be numerous cases of horn lust develop this weekend.

My first official activity was as a judge of the collegiate horn quartet competition, along with Michelle Stebleton and Elliott Higgins. There were four groups all of whom sounded very strong (from Baylor, Oklahoma State [the winners!], UMKC, and the University of Missouri Columbia). The rules read,

Each quartet should prepare no more than 12 minutes of music. Groups will be stopped after twelve minutes, and each audition slot is to take up no more than 15 minutes. Changing music and setup between selections is included in your performance time. Each quartet should, within this time slot, perform two works or movements of contrasting style. Only one of those pieces/movements may be an existing transcription, while the other must be a work originally composed for horn quartet. The group may instead perform two contrasting movements or works composed for horn quartet (i.e., not transcriptions).

In short the groups could choose their own music, there was no required rep. So what composer was chosen most often? Kerry Turner. Every group played Kerry Turner as part of their program! Also it was very interesting that every group set up in the same style popularized by the American Horn Quartet, facing forward as below:

4 – 3
…2 – 1

For sure performances and recordings and these engaging works of Kerry Turner are a part of their success and what gets quartets motivated! As and “older timer” I have heard the American Horn Quartet for years but for sure there are readers out there for whom Turner and the AHQ are unfamiliar  If you are not familiar with the AHQ, be sure to visit their website now!

There were presentations, a solo competition, and recitals in the afternoon that I missed but I did not miss the evening concert.

The pre-concert performing group was the horn octet from Oklahoma State University conducted by Lanette Lopez-Compton. They sounded great and played several works including, you guessed it, one by Kerry Turner.

This concert was a type I really like seeing at regional workshops, where the workshop is incorporated into a concert at the host institution. In this case the KU Wiind Ensemble directed by Paul W. Popiel performed what was essentially a regular concert with the addition of a large horn ensemble work (Silverado performed beautifully by the combined KU and UMKC horn ensembles conducted by Paul Stevens) and a horn soloist (Gail Williams on the Dana Wilson Concerto).

The concert was a treat to hear. Speaking of the Wilson specifically, it was a very attractive work performed beautifully by Williams. Not an easy work for sure and she as always makes it sound so easy. I was extremely happy to hear this performed; there is so little music for horn and wind ensemble and for sure this was the first time that most people at the workshop had heard this work. Bravo!

The concert closed with a Sousa march, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. For this one Gail Williams came back on stage and played along with the Euphonium section. Which leads me to my final sentence for the day, of a type that so I rarely have a chance to write that I will put it in quotation marks: “Rarely has Nobles of the Mystic Shrine sounded so noble.”

Much more is coming on Saturday, watch for more on the event soon.

Continue to Day II

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