A View of the Horn Day at Western Michigan

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This year I was honored to be the guest artist at Horn Day 2013 at Western Michigan University, hosted by Dr. Lin Foulk. Horn day events are held at many colleges and universities, and this was a great example. From the website,

Horn Day is an annual festival at Western open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the horn. This fun-filled event includes an entire day of horn activities, including a guest artist master class and recital, a solo competition, a recital by the WMU Horn Choir and WMU student soloists, and a chance for all participants to play in the Mass Horn Choir, which rehearses during the day and performs in the final concert.

My trip out on Friday was surprisingly uneventful with snow in the area. Thus on Friday I was able to have a pre-event master class with current WMU horn students and rehearse with pianist Helen Lukan. As to the master class, I heard great playing from current studio members of a variety of works, and I am always reminded when I get out of the depth of horn talent spread out all over the country.

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Picture0144It snowed much of the day Friday, and Saturday morning I was greeted by this scene from the window of my room at a guest house on campus. Good morning Kalamazoo! The snow unfortunately guaranteed a smaller than usual crowd, but the day was still a success.

The horn day began at 11:30 AM with a solo competition. Six high school students performed and Dr. Foulk and I chose two winners, who performed on the master class later in the day. This was followed by a recital featuring three WMU horn student soloists and the Western Horn Choir. All performed well but probably most interesting to me was a horn ensemble work, Summer Meeting ’77 by Francois Glorieux. The work is new to me and was well played by the Western Horn Choir. This was followed by a mass horn choir rehearsal, during which I warmed up before the master class of the day.

Facilitating master classes of this type is an honor and a treat for me, as often at horn events I get tabbed to do presentations/sessions rather than master classes. The two high school competition winners performed as did more students from the WMU horn studio. Again, the level of the playing was very strong and I enjoyed the chance to work with all of the students that played.

W-Mich-Horn-Day-2013aNext up was a type of session I have not noted at other horn days, what the program called “small group workshops.” These those attending the event were split up into groups and they performed or were engaged in topical discussions with current WMU students. It gave me another break as guest which kept me a bit fresher for the session after the snack break, a panel discussion with myself and Dr. Foulk. This led to a group of great questions from those in attendance, several of which will work their way into Horn Matters over time.

The final recital was at 6:30 PM and included solos performed by Dr. Foulk and myself, plus mass horn choir works. A good crowd was present, the solos went well, and I had the best seat in the house for the last work, Verne Reynolds transcription of Gabrielli for two horn choirs. Stereophonic horn choir music! The mass horn choir (conducted by Dr. Foulk, as seen in the UPDATE photo above)  was a great end to a great day.

W-Mich-Horn-Day-2013b-cropCongratulations again to Dr. Foulk and the entire WMU horn studio for their great performances and their hosting of the event! I was last on the campus here in 2001 (for the International Horn Symposium) and really enjoyed my stay. If you are in the area be watching for this annual event next year, it is worth your time to attend. And if you are not in the area, keep your eyes open for horn days in your area, it is a great way to network, learn, and be inspired.