by Sarah Willis

willisMy audition 

In the third round I was asked to play the Shostakovich 5 low excerpt again "this time louder, please". Thank goodness I had practised it louder and still had a bit of forte in reserve!

The first Beethoven 9 with Simon Rattle

My first concert after getting tenure was Beethoven 9 - a no pressure, small concert.... live TV in the Philharmonie! All rather terrifying and funnily enough, I felt more under pressure to play well so as to show my new orchestra they hadn't made a mistake by giving me tenure than I had during the trial! A scary concert. But it went well, and I remember being so grateful at the end of the 3rd movement that Beethoven had written us low horns such a wonderful solo.

Taking over 2nd F Wagner tuba

When Norbert Hauptmann retired, I took over the job of 2nd F tuba. I hadn’t played much Wagner tuba before - one always hears what beasts they are to play...- but from the very first notes on the Berlin Phil Wagner tuba (it had been played in by the late, great Manfred Klier) I absolutely adored it. I love being the bass of a chord and am always happy when I see Bruckner on the schedule. I usually have to do some breathing exercises before... those ends of the 2nd movements need a lot of air!! (And good nerves... unfortunately I never know in advance whether it's going to be a good nerve day or a bad one...but that's life as a horn player, isn't it? :-)

When I was at Music College, low horn seemed to be for the players who couldn't get the high notes. I am so happy this has changed and to be part of the new Low Horn Movement... because playing low horn is so important: for a section and also for us as horn players- we all need a good low range to stabilise our playing! So get out there and practise your low horn! Get together with a quartet, play Waltzing Matilda and have some fun.  

All the best from Berlin!

Dont miss: the Low Horn Hangout with Denise Tryon & David Griffin

Some masterclass links:
     Melbourne (Neuling Bagatelle)
     London (exerpts)

Low horn recommended pieces:

     Waltzing Matilda (arr Josh Davis)

     Song of a New World - Richard Bissell

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