On Performing the Konzertstuck, and being Ready to Play Horn

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Of all the memories of the recent Southwest Horn Conference, one of the strongest will be performing the Schumann Konzertstuck for four horns and orchestra as a soloist with a truly stellar group of soloists. It had a bit different flavor from that seen at other workshops, as all of the soloists are presently full time faculty at schools in the west and southwest: J.D. Shaw at the University of New Mexico, Laurence Lowe at Brigham Young University, myself from Arizona State University, and Daniel Katzen at the University of Arizona. A very exciting performance by all!

A number of people asked me subsequently how many rehearsals we had, and this is the answer: one, for only forty minutes. How does that translate into a strong and exciting performance? By all of us being ready to go. Myself, I played the work a number of times through with recordings before the rehearsal to be sure I had it as ready to go as possible at a tempo faster than I anticipated it to go in performance.

An audience member shot a video of the performance and did a great job with the production, especially considering it was recorded on an iPhone. It is in two parts below. On third horn I carry the melody quite often including for the entire second movement, as we are performing the version arranged by the American Horn Quartet. (If the videos do not load below, the direct link to the videos is here.)

Be sure to watch to the end, and yes, I can now cross the Konzertstuck off my bucket list.

For those interested in the equipment used, Shaw used a Conn descant, Lowe a Schmid triple (high F), I used my Geyer style Willson, and Katzen used an early (CA made) Rauch.

To close, it truly was an honor and a joy really to play this work with this great solo quartet before a packed house of lovers of the horn. I would love to play this work again with the same quartet; perhaps that day will never come, but still I am grateful for the opportunity to perform this work, especially with so many friends, students, and colleagues to hear it.

I will have more from the conference in a later article, but to close, again, the big key to any performance that you have coming up with short rehearsal time is to be ready, totally ready, to play. That is part of what being a professional or treating any performance like a professional is.

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