Random Monday: British Horns, Louisville Cattle Call and the German Brass

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Pictures from the big event
Bruce Richards shares a lot of very nice pictures from the recent British Horn Society event at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

The majority of the events where held in the Paul Hamlyn Hall, a huge glass enclosed atrium. The acoustic was lively, to say the least, but it did make for a interesting experience.  The exhibitor’s tables where placed around the edges of the space so the horn playing didn’t truly ever stop.


Louisville Orchestra cattle call
Here in America an orchestra in Louisville has basically fired all its musicians and is putting out announcements for replacement musicians. If you know of this announcement you would be well advised to ignore it.

Here is a counter-announcement from Bruce Ridge, the chairman of ICSOM.

Dear friends and colleagues,


As we all know, the musicians of the Louisville Orchestra have been engaged in a lengthy negotiation with their management. They have repeatedly been threatened by their board with being replaced by other musicians. And now, after a final ultimatum, the Louisville Orchestra, Inc. has begun recruiting replacement musicians.


Both the Louisville Orchestra, Inc. and the Kentucky Opera have been placed on the American Federation of Musicians’ (AFM) International Unfair List, and accepting work from these two groups could generate fines and penalties.

But it is not just the Unfair List that should deter anyone from accepting this work–the fact is that it would simply be wrong to do so.

Any musician accepting such work would not be serving the cause of art in America, or serving their career and family. Musicians accepting work as replacements would be taking food out of the mouths of fellow musicians, as well as depriving them and their children of health insurance.

The members of ICSOM, ROPA, and OCSM comprise a great number of orchestral musicians in North America, and we have thousands of students. Please educate your students, and the leaders at your music schools, of the importance of this effort. If the egregious and despicable actions of Louisville Orchestra CEO Rob Birman, and Board Chair Chuck Maisch were to succeed, then no orchestra in North America would be safe from such attacks. Any musician accepting such work would be building a career on quick sand.

Please post this message in your studios, and please send it to your students everywhere, as well as the colleagues in your orchestra who might not be subscribed to the ICSOM, ROPA, or OCSM news lists. Post it backstage at work. Post it on your Facebook pages. Spread the message everywhere that the musicians of ICSOM, ROPA, and OCSM will always stand together.

The symphonic musicians of North America perform as a united network of friends. It is crucial that we stand together on this issue, not only for the musicians of Louisville, but for the future of musicians everywhere.

In solidarity,
Bruce Ridge
ICSOM Chairman

Somebody really hates the French horn
Enough so that they took a picture and wrote a story about it.

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The French horn is hip
In contrast to the previous picture, this one is more positive.

A new hand strap
Valerie Wells has developed a new, strap-on hand strap for consideration.

Creative devices
Brian McWhorter illustrates the “Extractorama.” His video performance of a Ligeti Trio is worth a look too. Some may recognize Mr. McWhorter from “The Way of the Blade.”

Jeff Scott feature
Horn player Jeff Scott – of the Imani Winds – gets a nice write-up at Recordnet.com. 

Jeff Scott remembers his classmates laughing at “this beat-up, ugly old thing.”

Now, his French horn helps symbolize chamber music’s soul, spirit and future among young people more familiar with french fries.

When he was in junior high school, Scott chose the odd-looking instrument because no one else did.

“Everybody else was playing melodies,” Scott said with a hearty laugh. “I was still trying to make a note come out. It was very frustrating.”


Putting the savings burden on extras
Robert Levin at the Polyphonic.org web site illustrates a trend in America – cutting back on extra musician compensation.

Orchestra musicians are, in general, pretty good trade unionists. But we seem to have a huge collective blind spot when it comes to paying substitutes and extras.


Highlights from Horn Matters

In case you missed it, here are the most popular pages according to Google’s PostRank service.

Random videos

Featuring the large brass ensemble artistry of the German Brass. First up, some stellar piccolo trumpet playing.

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A snazzy arrangement of the theme to Star Wars. The horns are screamin’.

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A breathtaking arrangement of the Badinerie of J.S. Bach illustrates the brilliant arranging skills of Enrique Crespo.

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The grand-daddy of big brass arrangements artistically arranged, performed and filmed. Check out the interesting flugel-horns that are wrapped like French horns. This appears to be a live performance.

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University of Horn Matters