By Hervé Joulain
Participating in the International Horn Symposium (IHS51) next July is very exciting for me for several reasons:
I met Jeroen Billiet on the jury to select the horn professor for the Royal Conservatory of Mons in Belgium in 2016, but it was in Muncie (Indiana) at the 50th IHS symposium last summer that we discovered one another artistically. From that moment on, we began to communicate on many different topics, with no particular purpose in mind, bringing us closer together. Over lunch one day, the idea of my participating in the next international symposium was born. This fit the desire of the hosts to feature artists from countries with a cultural link to Belgium. I liked the concept straightaway, and as it turned out, I had just discovered and fallen in love with a new concerto. Dreaming of an opportunity to perform it, I loved the idea of introducing it to a wide audience due to the international exposure at the workshop in Ghent. Before last summer, while finishing up writing my method of advanced studies for horn, I was doing some research online. Totally by chance, I discovered the concerto for horn and string orchestra by Valery Kikta, a Georgian composer living in Moscow. I had to contact him, his family, and his editors before finally finding the orchestra score (thanks to a Russian horn player). Unfortunately, only the score existed, so I prepared a horn part and piano reduction myself.
Even though my proposal was immediately accepted by the IHS51 artistic committee, it was not possible to play it during the concert with the Brussels Philharmonic on July 5th due to differences in instrumentation with the rest of the program. Instead, Valery Kikta's concerto will be played during a piano and horn recital, after Emmanuel Chabrier's Larghetto, a concert I will be sharing with Bill VerMeulen on July 2nd.
In order to promote the event next July, I already included the concerto of V. Kikta on a concert in Paris on December 1st. I must say that I had a great time introducing this masterpiece to an enthusiastic audience! The piece is complex and rich in its form and musical language. Indeed, both the different parts of the concerto (in a single movement) as well as the different elements of his writing for the horn are a marvel to me. The concerto requires a command of many different technical elements (staccato, a wide range, intonation in the low range, various special effects, etc...) but all to serve the music, not just to embarrass the player, or hear him suffer! In this sense, the piece is similar to Olivier Messiaen’s Appel Interstellaire, a truly inspired piece of music. I hear many influences in Kitka’s concerto - Shostakovich, Tchaikowsky, Britten, Prokofiev - in short, noble sources of inspiration for a work for horn! The musical language is in turn emphatic, melodic, sustained in the bass, rhythmic, chromatic, heartbreaking, contradictory; then the piece revisits all of these elements in reverse.
In the near future, I wish to offer an “up-to-date” version of this little gem for all horn players to enjoy. Music must be shared; it’s not the sole property of any individual.
Ghent 2019 will also provide me the opportunity to teach. I have given master classes in 22 countries, but never in the land of my Francophone neighbors! A Belgian horn player, after having ordered my method book, told me he has already registered for my class...
Jeroen Billiet also asked me to play a beautiful Belgian piece for horn and orchestra by Prosper Van Eechaute (1904-1964) entitled “Poème Nocturne” as well as “Collages” by James Horner.
Exciting moments await us in early July in the beautiful city of Ghent. The horn players of the European continent have no excuse to miss this tribute to our noble instrument as seen through the eyes of these very sensitive Belgian artists, because this year there is no football World Cup!
A sampling of some unrealeased live performances of Hervé Joulain:
Hervé Joulain has appeared as soloist with 120 orchestras, performing in France, Canada, the United States, Russia, Romania, Finland, Sweden, Japan, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Georgia, Germany, Ukraine, and Spain. As a chamber musician he has played with Paul Tortelier, Vadim Repin, Gidon Kremer, Natacha Gutmann, Pinchas Zukerman, Yuri Bashmet, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Amoyal, Michel Dalberto, Alisa Weilerstein, Renaud Capuçon and many others, in Europe, Canada, the United States, and Israel.
He was named principal horn of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France at the age of 20, and then with the National Orchestra of France. He has also performed with the orchestras of New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan, Cologne, Brussels, Oslo, Stockholm, Munich, Boston, Seoul, also with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe,led by many of the great conductors of our time.
Joulain has given masterclasses in many French cities, as well as in over 20 countries around the globe.
English translation: KMT
Translation of artist bio: Nancy Fako