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|Volume 4 Issue 4, September 2019
When was the last time you made a recording? Was it for admission to a university or conservatory? An audition for a major symphony orchestra? A CD of solo or chamber music? A YouTube clip? Or did you simply put your smart phone on your music stand and play some excerpts to listen to your pitch, rhythm, intonation, and phrasing? Quite often, the impression we have while playing is very different than what the listener/audition committee/sound engineer receives on the other end. If you are recording yourself for an audition or competition, paying attention to your setup, equipment, and the guidelines of the organization you’re sending the recording to can make all the difference. In “Digital Auditions Tips & Tricks” by Julia Burtscher, you’ll find all sorts of useful information to make your recording a success. Last February, I was involved in a recording of Kerry Turner’s works for horn and piano for the Naxos label in Vienna. Our producer/engineer, Marco Battistella, talks about the particular challenges involved in recording horns as well as the microphones and equipment placement he chose to bring out the unique sound of each instrument.
We have another fascinating feature in this issue from several members of the jury, prizewinners, and contestants in the Jeju International Brass and Percussion Competition in South Korea this past summer. Reports and impressions in English, Spanish, French, German, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese are all here, representing the truly international nature of our horn community.
Also in this month’s Horn and More, you’ll find a special treat: Dr. Jena Gardner conducted a half-hour video interview with horn legend Gail Williams, live at Western Illinois University. She has so many amazing things to say that I can’t list them all here; luckily, I don’t have to, as the link to the video is right here! Markus Maskuniitty rounds out the newsletter with excellent advice on warmups in our Pedagogy column.
Happy chops to you all,
Interview of the Month: Gail Williams talks to Jena Gardner at Western Illinois University
Jeju International Brass Competition
Compiled by Mike Harcrow with contributions in English, German, Spanish, French, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese by Mike Harcrow, Samuel Seidenberg, Jhon Kevin López Morales (3rd prize), Yang Liu (1st prize), François Rieu, Jay Kim (2nd prize), Dr. Olivier Huebscher, Bernard Scully, Nobuaki Fukukawa, and Miwa Endo
Jeju International Brass Competition
The 14th Annual Jeju International Brass Competition (http://jejuibc.org/english) took place from August 8-16, 2019, on scenic Jeju Island in South Korea. This prestigious competition is a member of UNESCO’s World Federation of International Music Competitions, and awards are sizable cash prizes. Categories for this year were brass quintet, tenor trombone, trumpet, and horn (and even-numbered calendar years include percussion, tuba, euphonium, and bass trombone). First-prize winners in each category also receive a new Yamaha professional-model instrument and a live, nationally-televised concerto performance with the Jeju Provincial Orchestra (https://youtu.be/88qelYRFiXs). This year, for the first time, the first-place winner in the horn division was awarded an additional monetary prize from the International Horn Society. Adjudicators for the horn division were Samuel Seidenberg (Germany), Szu-Yuan Chuang (Taiwan), Quan Wen (China), Bernhard Scully and Mike Harcrow (USA), Nobuaki Fukukawa (Japan), and head judge Young-yul Kim (Korea).
51 of 61 entrants performed in Round 1, which took place over two days in the small concert hall in Stone Park in the foothills of Mt. Halla, a long-dormant volcano that is the geographical heart of Jeju Island. 13 players advanced to a stamina-taxing Round 2; and 3 played the Final Round, the Gliere Concerto, memorized with the JPO in the Jeju Arts Center in Jeju City. The three finalists were Jhon Kevin López Morales (Colombia; third, $4,000.00), Jay Kim (Korea; second, $6,000.00), and Liu Yang (China; first $8,000.00). Zeng Yun, hornist and winner of the recent Tchaikovsky Competition, was also a member of the second-place brass quintet. Sincere congratulations to the winners—and to all the incredibly-capable and well-prepared players who competed—from your IHS family!
As a returning judge, my greatest impression of the JIBC is—as it was 8 years ago—that the future of professional horn playing around the world is not merely secure but actually better with each new generation. The confidence, technical agility, and gorgeous lyricism of these dozens of young players—Jay Kim, for example, is only 16—was truly inspiring. I was also deeply impressed by the friendliness and support of the competitors for one another; and even among the adjudicators there was a heartfelt collegiality as well as near unanimity in the very difficult (insofar as the players were all so good!) scoring process.
Check out the newest element of IHS publications, the Horn Tunes section of IHS Online. This selection of short, light pieces can be enjoyed by students, casual players, and professionals alike, and are free for IHS members to download. Composers, transcribers and arrangers are also encouraged to contribute to this resource.
Recording Horns - A Perspective from the Booth
by Marco Battistella
In February 2019, I had the pleasure of recording Kerry Turner (horn), Kristina Mascher-Turner (horn), Frank Lloyd (horn) and Lauretta Bloomer (piano) for NAXOS at the “Tonstudio Edlmair & Lenz” here in Vienna, Austria. Turner recorded his anthology of horn literature and chose our studio because of the warm acoustics of recording studio A, which turned out to be ideal for the horn sound. Additionally, the YAMAHA CF III balanced very well with the horns. Prior to the recording sessions, Kerry visited me in Vienna. We discussed different requirements critical to a good reproduction of his repertoire. Properly recording horns is quite a challenge for sound engineers and producers as the perception of both player and audience is quite diverse. The sound should be neither too direct nor too diffuse and needs to be adjusted according to the preferences of the player. So, proper sound checks, even before recording the first note, are imperative. Added to sonic preferences, horn players need to record differently than, say, piano or violin players. A pianist only needs breaks to re-tune or rest. A horn player who stresses lips and surrounding muscles too much may not be able to intonate for hours or days. So, a typical horn recording session might not exceed 2 ½ hours with longer breaks in between. Instead of recording all the repertoire in 3-4 days, horn players need to plan additional time according to their personal endurance with an additional half a day (at least) of sound check in mind.
The challenge with the Turner recording lies in the very different horn sounds of the 3 players: The engineer must respect these characteristics and try to reproduce them as authentically as possible. This means that various types of microphones must be tested at various distances from the instruments. I personally prefer to use as few microphones as possible, simply because each microphone might add color and blur the natural perceived sonic stage depth and width.
I try to achieve 90% of the end result (sonically speaking) before the recording and not during the mix afterwards. To me, this is a crucial ingredient towards an authentic reproduction.
Digital Auditions Tips & Tricks
by Julia Burtscher
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”
This quote is attributed to Will Rogers and Oscar Wilde, has been used in numerous ad campaigns and can be applied to just about any aspect of life, from handshakes to first dates to auditions and everything in between. In the late 1990’s I worked as an administrative assistant at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Part of my job was to organize the auditions we held, from receiving resumes to checking people in and shepherding them into warmup rooms and working with the personnel manager to make sure everything ran smoothly. My biggest takeaway from working these auditions was that you have six minutes or less to prove to the committee that you were worth hearing again in the next round. Six minutes. But what about recorded auditions? Certainly, they save time and money in travel, but an investment needs to be made to ensure you have the best recording possible.
After asking trusted resources and scouring the internet for actionable, tangible guidelines, I’ve compiled a list of elements to consider when preparing to record an audition for submission:
IHS ISO Volunteers
In the nine months I've been Executive Director of the IHS I've had the pleasure of talking to people with whom I would otherwise not had contact. One comment I hear fairly regularly is 'I would love to be more involved with the IHS!' or 'are there any volunteer opportunities with the IHS?' The answer will always be yes! My first question back is 'what are you interested in?' I would love to connect your interests with our needs, so let's have a conversation (I promise we won't exploit you!) That said, do you have an interest in helping create / maintain a healthy and interesting social media presence? Or an interest in providing guidance with social media? If so, please let me know!
Julia Burtscher, Executive Director, IHS
Welcome, New IHS Area Reps
Last month, the IHS put out a call for new Area Representative applications, and you answered enthusiastically! The selection committee has made the following appointments:
Denmark: Frederik Rostrup
US state representatives:
Hawaii: Marie Lickwar
Please join us in welcoming these dedicated individuals to our team! Also, have a look under the “people” section of www.hornsociety.org to find out who your representative is. They want to hear about your horn events, news, ideas, and other feedback, and they can also share that information with you to connect you to other horn enthusiasts in your area.
Pedagogy - Markus Maskuniitty
Some thoughts on warming up
During my 30 or so years of teaching the horn, my teaching methods have gone through some evolutions. The tendency has been consciously and unconsciously to simplify things, both for me and for my students.
The physical part of playing the horn is not rocket science, but in my opinion it is actually quite a simple procedure if one has basic musicality and a certain talent for body coordination. It is about producing wind with varied speed against the sail, which is the lips. The more complex part is the “song,” as in Arnold Jacobs’ “Song and Wind”. The brain, or your soul if you prefer, gives you the song. The song should pass through your body into the horn freely, just as good singers would approach a beautiful melody in their best range.
This, in a nutshell, is why we practice.
It is important to get a good start physically to your horn-playing day in order to find this free, natural song. Breathing exercises before touching the horn are very valuable. Try to relax your breathing, so that inhaling or exhaling larger amounts of air and doing it slowly or quickly feels natural, like a reflex, and involves tensing muscles as little as possible. Look for inspiration from yoga.
You should then make sure that the lips are in a good position against each other for free and effortless vibration. Lips that are too open or too tight will lead to many problems. Use mouthpiece buzzing and mental images to find the right position; avoid any squeezing or thinking about the muscles. Play just with the mouthpiece around the middle range, looking for an effortless transition to and from the low range. Listen to the sound. Is it free and centered? I personally use a little buzzing only with the lips in my warm up, combined with mouthpiece playing. This should be done with caution on just a few middle-range notes. In daily practice, a bit of controlled buzzing only with lips can be used for embouchure strength building.
Relaxed air flow and easy buzz are the cornerstones of my warmup routine and horn playing philosophy. My other important warm up exercises are for flexibility, low range and attacks. I have, as many others nowadays, discovered the benefits of flutter tongue, which are in my opinion:
IHS 2020 in Eugene, Oregon
Welcome to the heart of the Pacific Northwest, home of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance and host of the 52nd annual International Horn Symposium
Our symposium theme is “The Healthy Horn”
Come to IHS 52 to be inspired by breathtaking concerts from internationally renown horn virtuosi, to meet artisan horn makers from around the world, to attend master classes and presentations from experts in many fields, and to explore all aspects of horn health
Your Horn and More IHS E-newsletter team:
International Horn Society