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I remember at a band camp – a lifetime ago – when a scrawny kid from Valparaiso, Indiana told me that one day he would play in the Chicago Symphony.
Fast forward about 20 years and his wish came true.
Before that happened, I ran into Dave once more in Mexico City. He was an associate principal in Montreal then and when the orchestra was on tour in Mexico back in 90’s, I was working with the Mexico City Philharmonic as an associate principal. (Jeff Nelsen was playing fourth horn on this tour.)
The orchestra supply truck for the tour had broken down, and so the musicians had to perform the concert in street clothes. Musicians with large instruments – such as double bass – had to borrow instruments from local musicians. It was a terrific show and is probably one of the best performances of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique that I have ever heard.
David Griffin is currently the fourth horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has a solo recording that both John and I have reviewed.
- David Griffin’s ‘For You’ and the World-Premiere Recording of the Broughton Sonata
- Brief Reviews: Griffin, For You and Quadre, Our Time
Houghton Horns LLC
My first encounter with the Houghton clan was with Mark, who is currently principal horn in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Before that appointment, Mark spent some time here in my hometown of Phoenix. I had the pleasure of playing extra horn now-and-then when he was principal.
Dennis Houghton is the proprietor of Houghton Horns LLC. A custom Houghton lead pipe adorns my own Conn 8D (which made a big difference for the better) but I had never met Dennis face-to-face until the Southwest Horn Conference last January.
We had lunch and chatted about his business and the general state of affairs in the horn world. I tried out horns and was impressed with his stock, especially his hybrid horns.
Until a few years ago I had never heard of focal dystonia, although I had heard plenty of stories of colleagues whose chops seemed to stop working for no logical reason.
It wasn’t until looking into it in detail that I found this wonderful lecture video by Dr. Peter Iltis. Titled “Embouchure Dystonia: Mind Over Grey Matter,” the video is an excellent compendium of the current research and Dr. Iltis’ own personal experience with this malady.
Thankfully we have people in this field like Dr. Iltis who are able to disseminate fact from fiction in such an articulate and honest manner.
Thankfully too he likes to tinker. Dr. Iltis has created and marketed a unique mute holster, one that makes seated mute changes a much easier thing to do. In a brief review of the Dämpfer Mitt, John Ericson wrote:
In short, if you don’t like hanging mutes on your wrist when you play to make fast mute changes (which I certainly dislike) in orchestral and chamber music situations this is the product for you!
It is well made and should certainly last through a lifetime of horn playing. As they note in their site, besides the advantages for transportation and security in performance, kicking over your mutes would also be a thing of the past with a Dämpfer Mitt.
Pope Instrument Repair
Going back to the Southwest Horn Conference from January 2012, two of my favorite horns in original condition (no modifications) were at Ken Pope’s booth – an original Geyer and a dual-bore Paxman 25LGD.
Ken was a head technician at Osmun Music for six years before venturing out into his own business. He is also an active freelancer on the East coast.
Pope Instrument Repair offers services such as valve rebuilding, custom horn manufacturing, leadpipe drawing, detachable bell conversions, overhauls, dent removal, valve service, ultrasonic cleaning, rotary valve manufacturing/replacement and custom modifications among other specialties.
Wichita Band Instrument Company
The Wichita Band Instrument Company (WBIC) has been around since the early 1950’s, and as long as I can remember the name of this company has been known to me. I grew up in the mid-West and as a young, aspiring horn player I knew that the WBIC was one of the few places in America where a Paxman horn could be played on and purchased.
Not every music instrument dealer or store has the capital to stock new instruments (and it seems to be getting more rare these days). At the WBIC that tradition – of having high quality, brand-new horns in stock for hands-on trials and purchasing – continues.
The WBIC sells stock Alexander, Paxman and Schmid horns off-the-shelf. At the same horn conference mentioned earlier I had a chance to try out a few Schmids and chat a little with their sales representatives.
Our banner ads are averaging about 500-600 unique clicks over a 3-month period. Clicks aside, this adds up to an average of about 32,000 impressions within that same 3-month time period.
If you or your company are looking to advertise on Horn Matters, please contact us about rates. Take a look at current stats to see what our site traffic is like. We currently have a very prime spot open on the home page – just below the most current article, where a Google Ad currently resides.
As a final thought towards recognizing the powers-that-be behind Horn Matters, I would also recognize and thank our contributing author Dave Weiner for his many helpful articles.
Dave Weiner is a repair technician in Lutherville, MD, and owns Brass Arts Unlimited, specializing in horn repairs, and sales of instruments and related accessories. His “Ask Dave” column has become a regular feature that many people, like myself, look forward to on Saturdays.