Trompas Lusas is a Portuguese horn quartet, founded in 2010, based in the Porto area in the North of Portugal. The project was born out of a friendship of some years. We went to the same school, Artave, playing together regularly in Philharmonic bands, and later in orchestras. For years we thought about forming a horn quartet. We had great pleasure playing chamber music, and we could do that with friends. In 2010 we had our first concert, the Schumann Konzertstück for 4 horns, in Spain with the Orquestra Sinfonica da Cidade de Pontevedra. This fantastic work was a huge challenge for a group that was just starting out, but the rehearsals that followed and the result of the concert gave us the motivation it continue with the project. Five years later, in 2015 we played the Konzertstück again in a few more orchestras.
About my Colleagues
My colleagues in the Trompas Lusas are freelance musicians who collaborate on a regular basis with various Portuguese orchestras. One of these is the Orquestra Sinfonico do Porto, of which I have been a member since 2000. They are also active teachers, teaching in some of the principal schools in this region of the country. Bruno Rafael teaches at the Guimaraes Academy of Music, the University of Minho, and the Escola Profissional de Musica in Viana do Castelo; he is also a member of the Orquestra de Guimaraes. We have been colleagues for 23 years. Besides our passion for the horn, we share a passion for football (soccer), and for the same club: Sporting Clube de Portugal! Nuno Costa teaches at the Conservatory in Vale do Sousa, the Escola Profissional de Musica and Academy of Espinho, and is a member of the Orquestra de Guimaraes. He is multi-talented, as he plays both low horn and high horn equally well; he is also responsible for maintaining a balanced budget of the group’s accounts! Hugo Sousa teaches at the Vila Real Regional Conservatory, the Music Academy Sociedade Vizense, and the Vila Verde Music Academy. He is the youngest member of the Trompas Lusas. As a young person he studied with me, and is without a doubt one of the most talented students I have had the opportunity to work with. A great low horn specialist, he is a very secure musician. Aside from music, he has a passion for radical sports, especially downhill mountain biking!
There are various excellent groups that have inspired various generations of horn players, like: the American Horn Quartet (AHQ), the Budapest Festival Horn Quartet, Leipzig Horn Quartet, Berlin Philharmonic Horn Quartet, and the Deutsche Naturhorn Solisten. But, like most horn players of my generation, my first great reference in horn quartets was the AHQ. In 1992 I was 13 years old and had started serious study of the horn, when some older colleagues let me listen to the AHQ’s first CD. I was amazed at the virtuosity and technical cohesion of the group, the sonorous equilibrium, and the fantastic repertoire. Every new CD by the AHQ was anticipated with great enthusiasm. I think that the work that the AHQ developed remains as a reference for anyone who wants to have success in a horn quartet. On one hand they introduced fantastic works that were unknown to a larger public, and on the other hand enlarged the repertoire with excellent new compositions and exciting arrangements. In this field the role of Kerry Turner is tremendous.
There are also horn players who are international references and are very important for us, like Hermann Baumann, Radovan Vlatkovic, Ab Koster, Nury Guarnaschelli, and Javier Bonet. They have a lot of experience and are fantastic pedagogues. Many times they have given us advice and helped us try to be a better group.
The Trompas Lusas have two big objectives to develop:
- Regular concert activity, performing original works for horn quartet and expanding the repertoire with new compositions.
- Pedagogic activities promoting the horn and encouraging study of the instrument. Since we are teachers as well as active horn players, the pedagogical aspect was always important.
- Introduce new original repertoire
The Trompas Lusas have presented concerts regularly in Portugal and abroad. The group has played in Portugal, Spain, England, Germany, and Finland.
The original repertoire for 4 horns is very diverse in style and has been a real discovery for us and for the public in general. The themes for our concerts have been varied, normally based on original works for horn quartet. Every year we add a new program to our repertoire using a different country as the theme. We compile repertoire from composers from that country; in this way we can bring the music and sounds of these countries in a more complete way. So far we have presented programs dedicated to Portugal, Germany, and Russia. Next year we will present a program dedicated to “British Music for Horn Quartet” with original works by James W. Langley, Frank Cordell, and Andrew Downes, and some arrangements of works by William Byrd and Henry Purcell, among others. The group gives special attention to executing works with natural horns. Though we don’t consider ourselves specialists, we think it diversifies the concerts and sonority of the group. It is interesting for the public to get to know the instrument that is the ancestor to the modern horn, and have an opportunity to appreciate the rich and always vibrant sonority of the natural horn.
- Make new commissions
We also have a commitment to expand the repertoire of original compositions for this formation. For this reason the Trompas Lusas have commissioned works from various composers. We have already premiered many works by Portuguese composers as well as composers from the U.S. and Brazil. The reaction of the public to the new works has been very good. We are very satisfied with the results - they are quality works that have given us challenges and are indisputable additions to the already existing original works for horn quartet. In order to make these new compositions more accessible to other groups and students in general, we created, in collaboration with AVA Editions, the “Trompas Lusas Collection”. At this time works are available from Kerry Turner, Sergio Azevedo and Liduino Pitombeira, compositions that are recorded on our CD “The Eternal City”.
- Collaborations with other artists
A horn quartet is very versatile and can perform with other artists. There are many possibilities, from adding more hornists and making an ensemble to playing with a horn soloist, with organ, with percussion, with tuba, with a choir, with electronics, etc. The possibilities are many and surprising. I am referring to original repertoire. They are possibilities that any horn quartet should take advantage of and enjoy. It is important to diversify and always try to innovate and surprise the public, as well as to give a different sonority and dimension to the group. In Trompas Lusas we aim to do this regularly through concerts with organ, tuba, percussion, and horn ensembles. In 2012 we commissioned a work for horn soloist and horn quartet from the Portuguese composer Eurico Carrapatoso, from this arose the work “Voo aos Ventos”, which was premiered the same year at the International Music Festival in Espinho, Portugal, with Radovan Vlatkovic as the soloist. In 2014 we presented this work at the 46th IHS Symposium in London with Ab Koster as soloist.
The Trompas Lusas have released 2 Cds, “Trompas Lusas” in 2012 and “The Eternal City” in 2016. Both of the recordings are indicative of the work that the Trompas Lusas has produced. We strive to make a mixture of works by well known composers of horn quartets and chamber works with winds , new works that were dedicated to us, and works by lesser known composers that we think are interesting and an excellent addition to the traditional horn quartet repertoire.
The title of our new CD, “The Eternal City,” has to do with the work that opens the CD. A trip to Rome in 2013, the eternal city, served as inspiration for Kerry Turner for the composition of this small work, a kind of fanfare. The work resulted from a commission. We thought it would be a great challenge to have a work by Kerry Turner written for us. We play this regularly in our concerts as an opening piece. To conclude the CD “The Eternal City” we added as a Bonus Track an arrangement by Martin Yates of the celebrated theme by George Gershwin “I Got Rhythm”, for quartet; a relaxed way to end the CD.
- Trompas Lusas Festival and Master Classes
In addition to concerts the quartet has organized master classes and organized its own festival, the Trompas Lusas Festival, which has been held three times. In addition to the participation of young horn players from all over the country, this festival has included world-renowned horn players such as Hermann Baumann, Ab Koster, Radovan Vlatkovic, Marie-Luise Neunecker, Javier Bonet, Abel Pereira, Jonathan Luxton, and Søren Hermansson. This past October we combined the presentation of our new CD with one more event dedicated to the horn: the "Day of the Horn” on which we promoted various activities, from presentations to expositions of our materials. The Portuguese horn school has evolved in a fantastic way in the last few decades, and these types of activities are fundamental. We want to contribute so that young Portuguese horn players and fans of the horn in general have the opportunity to hear, learn, and get to know the best. Organizing these types of activities requires a lot of effort, but it is worth it.
- Partnerships with Duerk Horns and Romera Brass
The Trompas Lusas have developed partnerships with well-known makers of equipment. It is very important for us to have the possibility to work with master fabricators; we get to know the products the materials used, and how things are made. With the help of our practical knowledge, we can get material with more personal characteristics. For these reasons we have developed partnerships with horn maker Dietmar Dürk (Dürk Horns) and Mouthpiece and mute maker Toni Romera (Romera Brass). This type of close relationship is reassuring for Trompas Lusas, and gives us confidence to be able to concentrate completely on our performances.
In the upcoming months, we will continue to promote our new CD, doing various presentations. The next presentation is scheduled for the 2nd of December in Madrid, at the I Congresso Internacional de Trompa de Madrid [First International Horn Congress in Madrid].
J. BERNARDO SILVA
Graduated from the Escola Superior of Lisbon, studying with Jonathan Luxton, with additional studies with Ab Koster, Radovan Vlatkovic and Javier Bonet. He participated in master classes with Hermann Baumann, Ab Koster, Radovan Vlatkovic, Bruno Schneider, Javier Bonet, Stefan Dohr, Froydis Ree Wekre, Philip Myers, Fergus McWilliam, Hervé Joulain, Will Sanders, Jasper de Waal, Zdenek Tylsar, among others. He has been soloist of the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música since 2000. He is currently horn professor at the Espinho Professional Music School and the University of Aveiro. He was awarded the First Prize in the Philip Farkas Competition organized by the International Horn Society in Lahti, Finland in 2002. He has presented himself in several countries across Europe, as a solo performer, chamber musician and orchestral player. He performed as a guest artist in the 36th and 46th Symposium of International Horn Society, in Valencia and London respectively. He has been a very active chamber music musician, is a founding member of the horn quartet Trompas Lusas.
Translation: Rebecca Holsinger