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|Volume 3 Issue 9, December 2017|
“Across the plains one Christmas night
This is the first stanza of the Australian carol, “The Three Drovers.” Our December issue shines a radiant light on the rich and varied horn tradition Down Under, with a festive collection of features: meet the talented and articulate horn player/composer Emma Gregan in our Interview of the Month; enjoy the reminiscences by Willi Watson about the master craftsman and hornist, Richard Merewether; listen to the dulcet tones of Barry Tuckwell; go behind the scenes of the Christmas Album collaboration between the Queensland Symphony Horns and the American Horn Quartet; gain insight into the pedagogical tradition in Australia by Ysolt Clark; explore an article by Marilyn Bone Kloss on “The Horn in Australia” from our Horn Call archives. You’ll also find out how to give the gift of an IHS membership - if you haven’t yet joined, why not treat yourself? However you celebrate, whichever hemisphere you’re in, may this holiday season bring you joy and beautiful music!
Interview of the Month: Emma Gregan
Kristina Mascher-Turner: Would you say that there is any characteristic sound or style of horn playing that is quintessentially Australian?
Emma Gregan:That’s a tough one - it’s like how it’s really hard to hear your own accent! I don’t know if Australia has an internationally recognisable sound in the same way as places like Germany or the UK. I would hazard a guess that it’s a consequence of never having any national horn brands that have caught on nationwide like Alexander or Paxman, and of course our very different cultural history from the rest of the Western world. However, if you’ve ever eaten in Australia you’ll know that we are truly a great adopter and adapter of culture; you can get great food of any cuisine here, and we have a wonderful multicultural society to thank for that! I think in the same way, our horn players travel the world having lessons, drawing knowledge from many different schools and finding ways to create great sounds using a huge range of instruments, before bringing these skills back home. The diversity of sound concepts and the adaptability of our musicians to each other is something I truly love about working here!
KMT: What is it like for young players and students in Australia who hope to make a career out of playing?
EG:It’s certainly not easy! As we all know, a music degree doesn’t include any guarantee of work, and many students graduating here at the age of 20 or 21 find this an ominous prospect. There are eight professional orchestras in Australia, and I believe 41 full-time horn positions between them, many filled by long-serving players. Considering the healthy number of conservatory students studying at any time, one can sympathise with those doing the math on their chances of an orchestral job! There are some academy and fellowship positions coveted as ideal ‘next step’ scenarios, but certainly not enough to cater for all graduates, and sadly not even enough for all those who show great promise. Some of the larger cities support a handful of full-time freelancers working as orchestral casuals or show musicians, but not all our state capital cities can. All of these factors combine to create a difficult transition period for many students between graduation and a sustainable playing career.
Recollections of Richard Merewether
By Willi Watson
I was delighted to hear the news from Tim Jones, principal horn of the London Symphony Orchestra, that Richard Merewether's book "The Horn, The Horn..." is to be republished in 2018. I was involved with the original publication in 1978 as Sales Manager of Paxman Horns. Dick (as he was always known) was, of course, the brilliant and innovative designer for the London-based company. Fluent writer that he was, my main task was to mop his brow occasionally! In my ten years with Paxman (during which they went from a relatively obscure company to one of the top horn makers in the world), I worked increasingly closely with him and was privileged to form a friendship with him, which I value to this day.
Dick's forebears founded the town of Merewether, which is part of Newcastle, a town famed for coal production north of Sydney. He started playing the horn at school with an Italian teacher on an instrument made by Rampone & Cazzani, which was "not too bad...", according to Dick. He was being urged to go into the family business as he approached his mid-teens, but rebelled quite forcibly, eventually persuading his parents that he wished to pursue music as a career. Subsequently he was accepted to study at the "Con", later to become the Sydney Conservatoire. The instrumentalists there became the founders of the modern Sydney Symphony Orchestra, as there was an acute shortage of experienced musicians in Australia after WW2. As a result, in 1946, at just 19 years of age, Dick found himself as 2nd horn to Englishman Charles Gregory, former principal horn of Sir Thomas Beecham’s London Philharmonic Orchestra, which had been disbanded for the duration of WW2.
Whilst at the "Con", Dick became great friends with a violinist from Melbourne called Patricia Tuckwell. Her younger brother Barry, encouraged to play the horn aged 13, became 3rd horn of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at 15 and then 5th in the Sydney Symphony. Both Dick and Barry were influenced by Charlie Gregory's lovely playing and by his and his wife Beatrice's tales of the opportunities for performing in London and the UK. When the Gregorys returned to England in 1950, Dick went with them to a new and exciting life,Tuckwell following a year later.
Give the Gift of Horn!
International Horn Society (IHS) Memberships make wonderful gifts for horn-playing friends and family. Click this link to go directly to our Gift Membership page.
From the Audio Archives
The first president of the International Horn Society was an Australian. Perhaps you’ve heard the name “Barry Tuckwell” somewhere before? His contribution to modern horn history is vast and profound. Whether as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player, conductor, teacher, or author, it is nearly impossible to exaggerate the debt we owe him and his artistry. This recording of the Danzi Sonata in E-flat is from the IHS archives, featuring his live performance at the 1973 Symposium at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Sir Barry’s facile technique and effortless elegance shine throughout.
An Australian-American Collaboration: Thoughts on the making of The Christmas Album
by members of the Queensland Symphony Horns and the American Horn Quartet
Geoffrey Winter: The last AHQ CD production was one I approached with both excitement and sadness. After 30 years of playing chamber music with some of the most talented musicians I have ever had the privilege of working with, I knew that this Christmas CD would be our last project together. At the same time I was excited to have the chance to work with other talented hornists. In the previous 5 years I had several opportunities to work with many members of the QSO horn section, so I knew the production would be a treat. I wasn't disappointed! Some of my favorite recollections include hearing both Lauren and Viv, along with Charlie of course, playing low horn licks that made my jaw drop. And Charlie showed a gifted talent as a percussionist. And I will also never forget the bone-shaking experience of hearing a didgeridoo up close and personal - I had no idea just how loud and mesmerising it would be! Bravo to Harry Wilson! And also to Pete, Malcolm, Lauren, Viv and Ian, who all played an essential role in making this last AHQ CD come to life. It was a fitting epilogue to the career of the AHQ.
Vivienne Collier-Vickers: There are some events in your life that you know you will remember. But not for the reasons you might think. The AHQ have worked together for decades carving out a career as a spectacularly successful horn quartet, touring the world and making recordings that sell to quite a niche market. The QSO horns, while we enjoy playing as a section both professionally and personally, would never have expected to be a part of such a unique experience as recording, not only a CD with the AHQ but a Christmas one at that! For the AHQ, it was a commemorative CD as it was the last they would do as a group; nevertheless, they showed their experience and expertise throughout the sessions of recording the wonderful music compiled for the CD. To them it all seemed like it was ‘all in a days work’.
Javier Bonet in Recital at Carnegie Hall
Javier Bonet, horn and Miriam Gómez-Morán, piano will present "Visions of Spain, A horn and piano Soirée" on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Tickets are available now on the Carnegie Hall website. For more information and a code for IHS members to obtain a 20% discount, visit this page.
The Joy of Teaching Horn
by Ysolt Clark
As part of a teaching team in Brisbane, Australia, I experience the joy of teaching horn almost every day. Along with Peter Luff, I teach students at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. I’m also lucky enough to combine a performance career and a private teaching studio, providing me a varied and rewarding way to spend my time.
Over the last twenty years or so, the style of educational delivery has developed and transformed in Australia, in both the general and music-specific communities. There is a far greater expectation of a co-learning experience. Gradually there has been the lessening of a master/pupil structure and a growing sense of collaborative work, both in one-to-one teaching and in a group situation. For the most part I really enjoy and relish this, and it is exciting to see the empowerment that occurs with the students who take advantage of all that is offered. Our particular teaching school has also had a significant and ongoing success rate. We have had some very exciting and inspirational guests, something that we are open to and take advantage of regularly.
Teaching is always learning. I’m of the view that we all need to be functional horn players and expressive musicians, and this is what we work towards in university. The path that each student takes in order to become a working professional in music varies, however. That is part of what I enjoy: finding solutions so that each horn student can develop their skills so that their music making career is confident and enjoyable.
At the Queensland Conservatorium we do group work two or three times a week. It’s a positive approach to creating a foundation and an opportunity for everyone to stretch their abilities and do things that they might not have been able to do before.
The Horn in Australia
IHS Members Only Feature
by Marilyn Bone Kloss
Australia has a long and rich history of horn playing and composition. Barry Tuckwell is its best-known player by dint of his world-wide reputation as a soloist, but he was not the first horn player in Australia, and many more excellent players fill the ensembles and conservatories today.
Early Hornists and Horn Societies
Two of the best-known hornists in Australia in the 20th century are Alan Mann and Alexander Grieve.
Alan Mann played in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and taught at the Sydney Conservatorium. Barry Tuckwell (born 1931) moved to Sydney at age 16 to study with Alan and be his assistant in the orchestra before he moved to London. Alfred Hill (1869-1960) dedicated a Concerto for Horn and a Sonata for Horn and Piano (1947), later adapted as Serenade for Horn and String Quartet, to Alan Mann. Graham Powning has written and arranged many works for four horns, one called Homage to Alan Mann (1998).
Alex Grieve (1923-2006) was a member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for thirty years, played in many other orchestras, founded the Melbourne Horn Club, and was a teacher and a supporter of community music. He was an IHS Advisory Council member (1971-1977), and was given the IHS Punto award in 1986 at Detmold, Germany. In Australia, he was awarded the Order of Australia medal in 1994 and the TOAN (Australian National Orchestra) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
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IHS 2018 IN MUNCIE, INDIANA
We are looking forward to seeing you "back home again in Indiana" for the 2018 International Horn Symposium, July 30 - August 4! The symposium website listing featured artists, travel options, etc., is still a work in progress, but proposals for Contributing Artists, lecturers, etc. are being accepted.. Come celebrate the 50th IHS family reunion with us.
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