Registration for IHS 55 in Montréal, Canada, is now open! To register and to learn more about the 2023 Symposium, please read to the bottom of this newsletter for the website link—and look for a fantastic musical holiday treat from some of our excellent IHS 55 organizers!
From Canada, enjoy Let It Snow as recorded by the Pacific Horns on the 1999 release Christmas Favourites with Four Horns (Skylark label no. 9803; music by Jule Styne, arranged by Greg McLean). The players are Martin Hackleman, Dawn Haylett, Steve Denrosch, and Jeff Nelsen.
Are you looking for IHS gifts for yourself or your favorite hornist as the holidays approach? Please visit https://www.cafepress.com/hornsociety to custom order merchandise with your chosen design(s)! If you're looking for the 2022 color-splash t-shirt, IHS pencils, “condensation collector” towels, IHS facemasks, and other IHS goodies, please contact Julia Burtscher directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Merchandise is on-hand, and she can facilitate different shipping methods to suit your needs.
Horn on Record
by Ian Zook
Volume 3—Meir Rimon
Through popular vote, our latest edition of Horn on Record will journey to Israel to listen as hornist Meir Rimon and pianist Bruno Canino perform works by Arcangelo Corelli, Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss, and Yehezkel Braun.
Released in 1981, this recording was made in the studio at the Jerusalem Music Centre (JMC) under its iconic Yemin Moshe Windmill. JMC was founded in 1973 by violinist Isaac Stern and serves as an institute for the advancement of young musicians across the county and as a concert venue for both national and international artists. Additionally, its recording studios are renowned for both their state-of-the-art equipment and exceptionally designed acoustical spaces.
Hornist Meir Rimon (1946 – 1991) was born in Vilna (Vilnius), the capital of Lithuania, which historically served as a spiritual and cultural center for the Jewish people in Eastern Europe. Moving with his family to Israel at age 10, Rimon studied horn with Horst Solomon who had been principal horn of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra since its inception in 1936 under Arturo Toscanini. (Prior to 1948, the IPO was known as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra.)
Rimon joined the Israeli Army Symphony Band at age 18 and, following his discharge, performed with the Jerusalem Radio Orchestra. Rimon traveled to Europe to study with Herman Baumann and Alan Civil, and to the United States to study briefly with Dale Clevenger and Myron Bloom. He then auditioned for Zubin Mehta and was appointed principal horn of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra where he performed from 1971 until his untimely passing in 1991.
In addition to teaching at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Tel-Aviv University, Rimon taught at Indiana University for 18 months between 1982-1984. He was elected to three terms on the Advisory Board of the International Horn Society and then served three consecutive terms as Vice President. Rimon was considered an effusive “good will ambassador” for the IHS, as his touring with the Israel Philharmonic took him across the world where he passionately shared the virtues and benefits of membership.
Rimon’s playing is marked by a velvety and sonorous tone across the range of the horn, a dedication to full-length articulations, and an unflagging sustain of tone throughout the dynamic spectrum. His preferred instrument was a triple horn made by Paxman of London, and one can marvel at the absolute consistency of his sound knowing that he likely used both the Bb and high F horns liberally.
This record features two works which have been recorded infrequently, an arrangement of the Sonata in F by Arcangelo Corelli, and the Sonata (1969) by Israeli composer Yehezkel Braun. One can read about Braun’s Sonata on the album jacket which notes that the overall melodicism of this through-composed work is influenced by “ancient Hebrew cantilation,” and the horn acts often in character as a Jewish shofar. Here a few examples from the album:
The Prelude from Corelli’s Sonata shows Rimon’s evenness of sound and broad connectivity of his phrasing:
Later, in the concluding Gigue, the fleet passagework in the piano dazzles alongside Rimon’s easy athleticism:
The Sonata by Yehezkel Braun begins with a plaintive melody, played with an intense, searching sostenuto:
Rimon plays the following section in recitative style, as if it were an invocation:
Later, a playful lilting theme is introduced. Rimon drifts through the syncopations and scalar runs with fluidity:
Braun’s Sonata ends with music imbued with the gravity of the opening melody. Rimon and pianist Canino have given us a beautiful interpretation of this wonderful and neglected work:
Special thanks to Jeff Lang of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and former colleague of Meir Rimon in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, for sharing personal anecdotes. And thank you as always for reading Horn on Record!
Holiday Greetings from Israel: Kranot Ha'Darom
Hannukah Medley, arranged by Aviram Freiberg (International Horn Society Country Representative for Israel)
Kranot Ha’Darom (Horns of the South): Shlomi Eini—horn 1; Aviram Freiberg and Hadas Michaeli—horn 2; Tzippi Cheryl Pellat and Nechama Mann—horn 3; Ami Zehavi—horn 4
Kranot Ha’Darom is a horn ensemble comprised of professionals, semi-professionals, and retired and amateur players which meets every six weeks on weekends to play quartets and horn choir music.
Buy the Book!
Latin America – William Cruz: Growing Musically in the Dominican Republic
William Cruz is a Dominican horn player and teacher with a bachelor’s degree in horn performance and certification in music education. Currently, he is completing his master’s degree in music education at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music. Here, he shares a bit about his dream, and his gift to us, White Christmas, is part of that.
Hopliday Greetings from the Dominican Republic: William Cruz
Fearless Performance — Ritual
by Jeff Nelsen and Katy Webb
Has anybody told you today that you are AMAZING? And we mean absolutely amazing. We don’t care if things are messy, challenging, frustrating, or not working as planned…well, we do care, but what we REALLY care about is that you remind yourself that, no matter the messiness, you woke up today and said, “I’m going back at it!”
Even when things don’t go as planned, you’re still going. You believe in yourself, your music, and your students enough to say, “Here I am! Let’s do this! Let’s keep moving forward!” Not everyone will do that. So, here’s your little reminder that, yes, you are amazing.
We’d love to help you show up to your daily practice a little readier amidst the messiness, so here’s a quick-start guide to create a renewing, fail-proof practice ritual. Greg McKeon says, “A ritual is a habit with a soul.” This 10-to-25-minute ritual is designed to give you space to renew your musical soul so that you can walk into the new year feeling accomplished, fulfilled, and eager for future opportunities.
Pull out your calendar…yes, right now! Mark which days you want to practice and which days you want to take off.
Make it a date! Find a 10-to-25-minute block of time you can commit to on most practice days. Then, complete one of these sentences: “I will start my practice ritual at [TIME] in [LOCATION]” or “After I [CURRENT HABIT], I will start my practice ritual.”
Fill your ritual with things you love. This is YOUR time, so use it to explore your sound in a way that is renewing for you. We’ve used our time to play quality tones along with a favorite show, to meditate on simple, beautiful melodies, and to improvise along with favorite tracks on our play lists. (And don’t forget a nice candle, an inspiring poster, and a yummy drink for after, too!)
Social proof it. Build your accountability pod. Get a text chain going so you can check in, swap your creative practice ideas, or pick a challenge to do together. We’re on a "prevail the scale" kick! We’ve been loving Nathan Cole’s Scales: The Road to Repertoire and have been exploring books of scales written for different instruments. If you don’t have an accountability pod, join ours! DM or tag us on Instagram with your scale wins and discoveries.
Effective practice is anything that helps you gain knowledge about yourself, your instrument, or your music. Can you imagine how it would feel to have spent most days this month exploring music from a place of enjoyment? You CAN make little adjustments to approach this holiday season from a sustainable place of well-being as you keep your skills in top-notch shape!
If you’d like even more ideas, we’re hosting a free, live training session for players of all levels next week called How to (Consistently) Prepare for Your Performance: 5 refreshingly motivating techniques to drop the distress and perform your best amid final exams, final rounds, and final countdowns to the holidays. Register here!
During the pandemic shutdown, I finished an old plan—with invaluable help from Marilyn Bone Kloss: putting most of my articles and notes together into one booklet. I have always liked to express myself in writing, and I do like to share. Collected Writings has some thoughts on this and that, topics such as performing, teaching, artistic matters, and more. Here is one of the shorter pieces. I hope it may be of interest or help for somebody out there!
Buzzing – an additional way of strengthening the lips
General thoughts All brass players can benefit from buzzing on the lips for training purposes. This can happen with or without the mouthpiece. I will describe both ways, based on my experiences as a player and as a teacher. Some of the objections that are being raised by colleagues in the field will also be included.
When I started to play the horn, buzzing was never mentioned by any of my teachers. They had never heard about it or done it themselves. Since they had become good players without any buzzing involved, they were sceptical when hearing about it in their later years.
And, in a way, I can see their point. A couple of years ago, a prominent European trumpet teacher expressed himself this way, on the subject of buzzing in relation to actual accomplishments on the instrument: I really think I have seen it all. Some students can play well in the high range but not buzz high. Some can buzz high, but not play high. And some cannot buzz at all, but they can play very well, while others buzz rather fantastically, but they sound terrible. And of course many can buzz well and also play well. It is quite confusing.
Nowadays a good teacher is expected to get a lot out of all pupils and students, not only the ones who are especially talented, the “naturals”. I, for one, was not so physically strong in and around the lips as a young horn player. When I was finally introduced to the idea of practicing strength away from the instrument by buzzing, it helped me enormously. The variations in shape that I had experienced in my earlier days were (almost) gone, as long as I took care and gave myself some daily minutes buzzing on the lips and on the mouthpiece.
Traditionally, trumpet players seem to be the most interested in buzzing. The most famous brass pedagogue to introduce buzzing in his teachings and writings was, after all, trumpet player James Stamp. Horn players are somewhat interested, and among the low brass players, quite a few teachers seem to use it and recommend it now. For example, the bass trombone player of the Berlin Philharmonic, Stefan Schultz, recommends a little buzzing on the lips alone for the beginning of the warm up, and then he himself is aiming for approximately 45 minutes total playing on the mouthpiece in the course of a normal day.
This December, I want to shine the spotlight on the incredibly talented and versatile composer and performer, Shanyse Strickland. While horn is her primary instrument, she also plays and records music on flute as well as on other wind and brass instruments. Strickland has a unique musical voice, incorporating elements of rhythm-and-blues, jazz, and other genres into her works. (Definitely check out her recording called Horn Vibes on which she performs an amazing horn-centric RnB track!)
Originally from Akron, Ohio, Shanyse has degrees in Horn Performance from Youngstown State University and Duquesne University, as well as an Artist Diploma in Jazz French Horn from the University of North Texas. Now based in New Jersey, she frequently performs in a wide array of genres, including rock-and-roll and neo-soul.
To date, Strickland has published four original compositions for horn in a variety of chamber configurations. Moods, written for horn quartet, seeks to represent what Strickland describes as “everyday feelings,” which, to my ear, manages to capture moments of joy, melancholy, and peace throughout the work. In contrast is her work A B.O.P. – Beats of Power! for trumpet, horn, and trombone/bass trombone. This piece pulls from Black-influenced genres such as jazz and disco to create music with “multiple vibes.” Another of Strickland’s powerful compositions is I Would…and I WILL for brass quintet, which she describes as “a portrait of the heart of black women during slavery,” based on a quote by heroine Elizabeth Freeman, an enslaved black woman who won the first successful freedom lawsuit in the United States. Not to be missed is Strickland’s piece For Your Love, “an RnB, hip-hop, and contemporary mash-up that symbolizes the passionate journey that two lovers go through while sharing life with each other.” Combining flute, horn, spoken word, and electronics, this piece embodies the new genre of what Strickland calls “Classical-Pop.”
Forty Christmas Carols for Two Horns, Books 1 and 2 by Don Abernathy Thirty Christmas Carols for Trumpet and Horn, Books 1 and 2 by Don Abernathy Christmas Medleys for six horns by Jill Boaz Christmas Carols for the Flexible Brass Quartet in three volumes by Sean Brown Christmas Carols for the Lonely Hornist (solo horn) in two volumes by Sean Brown Angels We Have Heard for six horns arranged by Douglas Hill Waltz of the Flowers for horn quartet arranged by Sy Brandon Sussex Carol Variations for brass choir, percussion, and organ by Robert Ward Hanukkah Medley by Aviram Freiberg
Pedagogy Column —
Improvisation: How Do I Begin? Harmony? Modes? Licks?
by Victor Prado, IHS 55 featured artist
One of the questions I get most from horn players and students is: I want to improvise, but where do I start?
My first quick answer to this question is to keep an open mind, get out of your "automatic" and standard mode for a while, look around for what is new, listen to different genres of music, and learn from them.
I often say that 60% of the process of improvisation lies in what you do without your instrument. If you are an open-minded artist, great, that is already a big step!
Now, going deeper into the question, I have various answers rather than one exact answer that works for everybody. However, some common ideas can help all people who want to start improvising. Let’s start with these.
Elements such as harmony, modes, ready-made phrases, rhythm, articulations, and effects are indeed extremely important for improvisation in any musical genre. However, you should not necessarily think of these as the main elements of improvisation when you want to start exploring this world.
When we focus our improvisation only on techniques and harmony, we are automatically assuming that only those who already have some prior knowledge of improvisation can do it, and THIS IS NOT TRUE. From beginners to the most advanced professional horn players, everyone can improvise.
So how do you start your improvisation practice in a more natural way? Answer: start from wherever you are today. You can and should draw on everything you have already learned about music and the horn.
Now, get to work!
Do you like duets? How about trying to do some duets with Milton Nascimento, Lester Young, Beyoncé, Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, or Alice Coltrane? That would sound great, right?
Start experimenting by playing along with recordings, without the notion of playing something right or wrong, but rather of just being part of the music, doing it together with the recording artist. This kind of practice can definitely help you enter and understand the world of improvisation.
Start by finding the key, trying major or minor scales, and even copying the little phrases you hear. Then try to modify the phrases by changing notes and rhythms. After doing this for a while, you will begin to feel more comfortable playing without any music written out. Do this as much as you think is necessary! Of course, this applies to any genre of music. Try not to stick to just one style of music unless you want to master just one specific musical language.
After you feel comfortable playing duets with your favorite recording artist, add more features such as bends, glissandi, vibrato, and whatever other musical effects you can think of.
Put aside the concept of right and wrong; the important thing is to feel good and free!
Improvisation can help you rethink certain concepts. It can be difficult to detach yourself from the idea of right and wrong in your horn playing, but in improvisation anything and everything can be right. Improvisation teaches you to let go. It is a world of spontaneity and surprises, so absolutely everything is valid! Every improvised note you play will serve as a stepping-stone to your future, so do not worry.
Forget for a while the "standard" way of practicing scales and arpeggios with a metronome. Choose a recording with a rhythmic feel that attracts you and play scales starting from different notes, accenting the notes in unusual places, playing whatever you feel. Make it fun.
I need to learn about harmony and patterns!
Take your time. The process of internalizing harmony is a long one, which means that you will not master everything in a year or two. The idea is to start slow and try to understand what you are doing. And you probably have already mastered the major and minor scales in all keys; you know how they sound and how each one feels.
Something important to consider in the study of harmony in improvisation is the sensation (rather than the rules). We must be able to feel how a diminished scale or a sharp-9 Locrian mode fits into the music. At first this may seem too strange or unfamiliar, but trust me, in time, by listening and playing, you will learn to create these feelings; this is very important in improvisation. When you are improvising, there is often no time to think precisely about the scale or the chord or the mode you are going to use, so this feeling of the harmony will be the most important tool at hand. As time goes by and you become more comfortable, musical feelings get stored in your subconscious mind and will be available for use when the right moment arrives.
Improvisation certainly does not happen by magic; you must work hard at it but have fun with it. What I always advise is that you start creating small phrases with the scales and arpeggios you are practicing. You can start with just two notes and some different rhythms. Then gradually increase to three, four, and five, until you feel comfortable with as many notes as you want.
You will see that the possibilities are endless. You will kindle a desire to go to new musical places, to create new musical gestures, to play phrases that are more challenging. And all this will be stored in your head as you create an improvisational vocabulary.
Jazz improvisation methods can also help a lot in this process. All the "tricks," such as transcribing solos, playing everything in all keys, coming up with licks and patterns, for example, can definitely guide you. However, you can explore many other more personal musical places as well. And remember that in the world of today, there are many kinds of music that we can fit into as horn players.
Holiday Greetings from Portugal:
Bernardo Silva and the University of Aveiro Horn Ensemble
From a collection of 42 Christmas Carols for Two Horns, please enjoy the two offered here as a gift to you this holiday season. These simple settings were originally written for my younger students with the idea that they would play the melody as solo training while I played the second part to support and encourage them. Merry Christmas! MH
We are so excited to announce that registration for IHS55 is now open! So far, we have announced 7 featured artists: the American Horn Quartet, Katarina Javurkovà, Victor Prado, Ursula Paludan Monberg, Jeff Scott, Yun Zeng, and Andrew Bain…what a line up! And we still have 12 more featured artists to announce. We feel incredibly lucky to have so many wonderful horn players coming to Montréal next summer.
To find out more about IHS 55, the featured artists, contributing artists proposals, and to register, visit the website at www.ihs55.org.
Early bird offers will be available until April 1, 2023.
Contributing artists proposals will be accepted until February 1, 2023.
To celebrate the holiday season, four of our team members—Louis-Philippe, Maude, Marjolaine, and Xavier—have recorded a short holiday quartet. It was arranged by another team member, Eric, and it contains a few hidden horn excerpts. Can you identify them all?