Of Standing Horses and the Horns of Interlochen

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This summer I was honored to join the horn faculty at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. Founded in 1928 and known for many years as the National Music Camp, the Interlochen Arts Camp is the summer home of some 2,000 arts students.

This past Friday the full brass faculty was featured in a recital that included small and large brass ensemble works in a great concert. Horn faculty Bruce Henniss (Ohio State), Kelly Drifmeyer (SUNY Potsdam), Gustavo Camacho (Interlochen Arts Academy), and myself performed together in brass ensemble works by John Cheetham, Brian Balmages, and Eric Ewazen and we also performed a horn quartet with a special Interlochen connection, Someone’s Horse is Standing There arranged by Marvin Howe.

howe2.jpgHowe was an Interlochen institution, having joined the Interlochen horn faculty in the summer of 1957. Over his years on the faculty he worked with many hundreds of horn students, retired to Interlochen in 1979, and lived in the area until his passing in 1994. This arrangement (published by The Hornists’ Nest) is beautiful and it was particularly meaningful to play it with the full horn faculty for this part of the summer. As his wife Arline Howe relates in the published program note,

Marvin heard a recording of this beautiful Russian folk song, performed by the Russian Army Chorus. There was no printed text, but he was fascinated by its haunting melody. He painstakingly transcribed it by ear and then arranged it for four horns.

He finished it the summer before his death, and it was performed by the faculty and staff horns of the Interlochen Arts Camp. Then, as it happens, the horns of the IAC performed it at Marvin’s church the Sunday before he died. He was too ill to be there, so the players held their dress rehearsal for him at our home.

We don’t have a video of our performance this week but we do have a video link to another performance filmed in the same performance venue by the horn studio of their year round boarding high school, the Interlochen Arts Academy. This link will take you to the studio from 2010-11 performing the main theme from Jurassic Park. I highly recommend the link! A wonderful performance, conducted by horn faculty Gustavo Camacho, one that I believe the best of the summer horn students could match as well. Of the players in the group in the video, five graduated from the Academy this year and are attending college next year at top level music schools; they will be people to watch.

To speak a bit more of the students I have heard and worked with this summer, I teach a portion of the horn studio, coach the horn sections of three wind groups, and coach brass chamber music. Last night I greatly enjoyed hearing the two high school age bands perform a concert featuring conductors Jerry Junkin of UT Austin, John Lynch of the University of Georgia, and music by guest composer John Mackey. The horns have been doing great work in the bands and orchestras and have great rep and experiences spread over the summer.

Another video to check out if you want a bit more of a picture of the beginning of the summer at Interlochen is this one, from the first week. If you look real close you can see three brief clips that include me toward the end of the video, with the brass ensemble.

This week will be my last one of the summer at Interlochen, as two of the faculty lines in horn at this time are split in half. Brad Gemeinhardt (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) and Lisa Bontrager (Penn State) will replace Henniss and Ericson for the remainder of the six week program, with Camacho and Drifmeyer continuing for the full summer. It has been great to experience and become a part of the tradition of horn at Interlochen and I have greatly enjoyed the interaction with a great group of horn students. I wish them all well in their future endeavors!

This is certainly a program that advanced high school and junior high age horn students should consider for summer study, and to close I should note that the Interlochen Arts Academy is still accepting applications for the 2011/12 school year. For more information on study this coming year or for future years contact horn instructor Gustavo Camacho.

University of Horn Matters