Special Sound at the Sauerland Horn Festival

By Mathias Pfläging


The 8th Sauerland Horn Workshop attracted 60 musicians from all over Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland to the Sauerland region. The two leaders of the horn workshop, Uwe Becker and Mathias Pfläging, were once again able to bring in top-class coaches:

Team der Sauerlander Horntage
Team of the Sauerländer Horn Day

Kristina Mascher-Turner and Geoffrey Winter are among the most renowned horn virtuosos of today and are recognized worldwide for their outstanding ability. Denise Tryon is also currently one of the most sought-after soloists, particularly as a low horn specialist. She agreed to the long trip from Baltimore to get to know the Sauerland Horn Festival. Jean-Christophe Naas from the German Wind Philharmonic rounded out the team of outstanding teachers.

As in past years, with much love and pedagogical skill, Chris Brigham (Folkwang University of the Arts) and Lukas Krämer (Pro Musica Sacra) led a course for 15 young “future hornists” in two groups. Education specialist Lena Dawidowski and supervisor Marco Hildebrand accompanied the junior project of the Sauerland Horn Festival, ensuring a fun and safe environment for the young musicians.

Klaus Fehr (Fehr French Horns, the Netherlands), Harm Roestenberg (Willson Band Instruments, Switzerland), and Norbert Riedel (Music Kontor Overath) took over the international horn exhibits. Riedel represented Hans Hoyer Horns (Germany). All three demonstrated the innovative ideas and the special craft of horn building that distinguishes these manufacturers.

The theme of the musical program was “Heroes, Tales, and Myths” and included several pieces that were especially arranged for the Sauerland Horn Workshop. At the beginning of this year, talented horn player and arranger Josef Kahle started working on enriching the festival‘s repertoire with tailor-made heroic film music.

Horn Orchestra

After kicking off with a large horn orchestra rehearsal on Friday evening, Saturday morning’s session emphasized ensemble playing in groups of 8-10 horn players. The instructors had the responsibility of rehearsing and preparing at least one piece for the final concert with their smaller ensembles.

The program for Saturday afternoon comprised master classes and private lessons. Each participant had the opportunity to sign up for a lesson with the guest instructors in order to ask for tips and tricks, as well as to put them into practice. At the same time, the instrument exhibitors gave a lecture. Klaus Fehr of Fehr French Horns answered the participants’ questions and was also able to offer advice on all kinds of matters. After the dress rehearsal for the ensembles, all the instructors met together, professionals and very ambitious amateurs, to rehearse an extremely challenging work: the film music from “Braveheart” - a work demanding the highest level of playing - a composition spanning over 4 octaves!

So large an audience streamed into the concert on Sunday morning that extra chairs had to be brought in, and every last seat was filled.
The horn orchestra got off to a heroic start with the theme to “Star Trek: Voyager,” taking the audience on a distant journey through the galaxy and through the world of the sound of the horn. After the Baroque “Sonata Pian e Forte” by Gabrieli for two antiphonal horn choirs came “Robert the Bruce,” a composition about the fight to free Scotland.

Zukunftshorner mit Dozenten
Future Hornists with Lecturers

The “Future Hornists” kicked off the smaller ensemble portion of the program and reaped enthusiastic applause for their presentation. The ensembles that followed played (with passion) film music from “Harry Potter” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” as well as classical arrangements such as “Hunter’s Delight” and “Panis Angelicus.” With “Braveheart,” the team of teachers brought the ensemble portion of the concert to a rousing close, delighting the audience with skill and a lot of fun. After the film music medley “James Bond 007” and “Andreas Hofer” (a musical tribute to the Tyrolean freedom fighter), came the grand finale featuring all participants: the adult course, “future hornists,” and teachers all played the wonderful sonorous canon, “Dona Nobis Pacem.”

The final concert was presented under the alternating conducting baton of Kristina Mascher-Turner, Denise Tryon, Geoffrey Winter, Jean-Christophe Naas, and Mathias Pfläging. Each of them brought out their own vision of sound, phrasing, and articulation with this extraordinary ensemble. The participants, teachers, and organizers all agreed: it was a successful conclusion to a memorable horn festival, in which music and passion, paired with fun and great conversation, built bridges between people of different ages and origins.

The 9th Sauerland Horn Festival in 2018 already has its first registrations, and the first instructors have been secured, so that the horn symposium from September 21-23, 2018 in the heart of Sauerland will once again be a highlight for all participants, teachers, and exhibitors.

Translation: KMT

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