I’m very happy to write to you and share some good news: this past December, the Advisory Council approved a new mission, vision, and set of values for our International Horn Society.
Mission: To connect artists of all ages and backgrounds across the world, and to promote horn playing, education, and fellowship through events, publications, awards, and new compositions.
Vision: A connected and vibrant community of hornists worldwide.
This is very important because it gives us a clearer foundation to plan for the future of the IHS and to work for our membership.
We are in times of great change around the world in so many ways. With Our Values, we try to reflect how we want to move forward in relation to how we connect and care about our community.
By working together, we can do much about art and the horn world. It is essential that we work to embrace different cultures and people (and their respective particularities), looking to help those who seek to play, learn, teach, research, compose, hold events, or any other actions related to the horn that, in general, make others part of our community—and all this must be done with respect toward everyone.
Prejudice, harassment, bullying, intolerance, and discrimination, for example, happen around the world, and it is fundamental, in my opinion, that we work on what we can do to prevent this from happening, including in the work environment via the actions of the IHS. Therefore, with our new mission, vision, and values, I believe the IHS has clear direction and inspiration to follow.
Last month, as you may have heard, we lost two wonderfully representative hornists who have influenced so many around the world: Lowell Greer and Dale Clevenger. My sincerest condolences to their families and friends, and my deepest sympathy through these difficult times. We have specific articles honoring both men in this issue of Horn and More, and look for their obituaries and additional tributes in the May issue of The Horn Call.
My colleague, horn professor at UFRN, Adalto Soares, studied with Mr. Greer for several months. One thing that particularly caught my attention in Adalto’s kind comments was when he mentioned that Lowell taught him important life lessons, in addition to playing the horn, by his thoughtfulness and day-to-day kindness and how meaningful this was to him. I believe that these kinds of actions are very important, particularly when we become part of someone’s education.
Regarding Mr. Clevenger, I grew up hearing some of his recordings, especially with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and these had a great influence on me. I remember a recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony (see a link for this in the tribute below) that I used to listen to at full volume with my father in his car. It was very inspiring!
With these good memories, I present to you this newsletter. Besides the articles in memory of Lowell and Dale, we have Gary Kuo’s “ten-year challenge,” introductions to the horn scenes in Cairo, Egypt, and in Manila, The Philippines, and news from Latin-America. The excellent pedagogy column this month features Patrick Hughes’ clear thoughts on fast, immediate air.
I also want to remind you that the book, The International Horn Society: The First 50 Years, is available at hornsociety.org/257-uncategorised/1665-the-international-horn-society-the-first-50-years, and I hope to see as many of you as possible at IHS 54 in Kingsville, Texas, from August 1-6! You can find more information for the Symposium at ihs54.com.
All the best,
The Artistry of Lowell Greer
by Richard Seraphinoff
The horn world was saddened to hear of the passing of Lowell Greer on January 5th of this year. Lowell had a stellar career as a performer on both modern horn and natural horn, and he was known as a pioneer in natural horn performance, horn making, and scholarship. This tribute for Horn and More will focus on Lowell the mentor and teacher whom many of us in Detroit got to know in the 1970s. For a longer tribute in the May issue of The Horn Call, I’ll write about Lowell as those of us who worked with him in later years knew him and enjoyed both his artistry and personality.
I first met Lowell when I was in high school and needed to find a private horn teacher. At that time, in the mid-1970s, Lowell was assistant principal horn of the Detroit symphony, and he taught a small number of students, a few of whom went on to become professional horn players, including Rob Danforth, R.J. Kelley, and myself. The three of us were members of the Detroit Youth Symphony horn section, and Lowell was our coach. Studying with Lowell was much more than just having a horn lesson each week. It often involved recitals of Lowell and his students and the parties afterwards, for which Lowell would cook elaborate meals—with plenty of Dr. Pepper. It was like an extended family, with Christmas parties at which we exchanged presents, and sessions playing quartets and chamber music throughout the year. I still have, and use, a few horn making tools that Lowell gave me for Christmas as far back as 1974.
It was at this point that Lowell started to learn about the natural horn, and of course, he had to share his exploration with his students. At lessons, after playing a Kopprasch etude, Lowell would say “Fine! Now play it again on this horn.”...
A Tribute to Dale Clevenger
by David Griffin
Dale Clevenger and David Griffin together in Salzburg, Austria.
(photo credit Todd Rosenberg)
Many people will remember Dale for his epic Mahler and Strauss horn calls, his fearless rides into the stratosphere, and his endlessly long lyrical lines. Of course, those are all very true and memorable, but I will most remember Dale for his kindness and patience when I was a new member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra horn section.
Rather than pointing out shortcomings, Dale did whatever he could to encourage and welcome newcomers. Suggestions were few and far between, which greatly helped a new player feel comfortable in an unfamiliar situation. On the rare occasion when Dale addressed the horn section in rehearsal, he always phrased the request in the politest form possible.
After I had been in the CSO for about a year, I mentioned to Dale that he never seemed to be worried about anything. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “David, I’m a very good actor.” I suppose so, because his outwardly carefree attitude, during even the most high-pressure situations, demonstrated to the section that communicating the musical content took precedence over just hitting right notes on the horn. In my lessons with Dale, he spoke about “controlled abandon” as a goal for performances. Later as a colleague, what incredible joy it brought me to hear him up close in the orchestra, performing so fearlessly and with controlled abandon.
Dale’s spot-on imitations of conductors kept us laughing. Speaking of conductors, none ever rattled him. Rather, the occasional inexperienced conductor might quickly learn not to try and fix what wasn’t broken.
Everyone has their own favorite playlist of Dale’s greatest moments,...
The Books Are On the Way
If you ordered a copy of Inteernational Horn Society: The First 50 Years and have not received an email from email@example.com, it very likely went to your spam folder. This email contains payment information and shipping address verification, so if you still want your book, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll sort it out!
My 10-Year Corno Challenge
by Gary Kuo
(photo credit Aaron Weber)
Facebook’s 10-Year Challenge invites participants to compare and share portraits of themselves from a decade ago with those taken recently. While I don’t believe my physical appearance has changed much since 2012, one thing definitely has: the number of real world friends I’ve made who are horn players. When reflecting on the meaningful connections I’ve established since the launch of social media, I’m delighted and amazed at how many corno compadres I now have. I don’t even play the horn.
I’ve always had a curiosity for all things mechanical, including instruments. Having started violin in third grade, I understood how each member of the string family worked. It was the intricate key and valve design of the winds and brass, however, that would continue to fascinate me over the years. As a result, I would occasionally let my mind wander during youth orchestra and marvel at how brass players could produce so many notes with so few “buttons” and how horns worked so well in the disco versions of “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters.” There’s nobility in their sound I thought, gazing at their complex network of pipes that were both beautiful and a bit daunting.
During my undergraduate years at Juilliard, I spent a summer as concertmaster of the All-American College Orchestra at Walt Disney World, where I got to see just how versatile musicians in the other sections could be. It was enlightening to try and grasp the concepts of transposition and doubling and seeing my colleagues perform those skills with ease inspired me to learn more. Exposed to a wider range of genres, I began listening to music from an entirely different perspective. Instruments, both electronic and acoustic, became individual colors within a massive tapestry of sound, and there was so much more to discover: my existing love of blinking lights, knobs, and switches had evolved into a passion for creating new music. The following year, I completed my bachelor’s in performance and went on to pursue a master’s in composition for film and television.
After graduating from the two-year Media Writing and Production program at the University of Miami in Florida, I moved to Los Angeles, where I began composing for network TV and played violin as a freelancer, doing session work on occasion. Performing on soundtracks gave me the rare opportunity to see some of the industry’s greatest composers and recording artists in action. I often had the privilege of watching studio legend James Thatcher play and lead his section as they produced that amazing Hollywood sound we’ve come to know and love. It was also the first time I really took note of the steps required to remove water from a horn. If you ever write for that instrument, I told myself subconsciously, give the performer enough time at regular intervals to execute all those moves with care and precision.
And that sound. Hearing all those horns playing together? It was a sonic experience I would never forget.
The exclusive use of technology by composers, while convenient and frequently expected, sadly removes human interaction from the creative process. So, when Dr. Michael Harcrow, professor of horn at Messiah University and a good friend from graduate school, reached out in 2012 and asked me to write something for his students, I welcomed the opportunity. “What’s the instrumentation?” I asked. “Just horns,” he replied. Really? Is that a thing, I wondered? After doing a little research, I learned it was not only a thing, but also a very, very beautiful thing. Recalling my experience sitting near the horns on the scoring stage, I was eager to create a work that might incorporate some of the most gorgeous sounds I had heard over the years.
In the summer of 2013, Mike’s students premiered “Mountain Spires” for six-part horn choir at the 45th International Horn Symposium in Memphis, Tennessee. I was honored to have my music included in their program and excited that they won second place in the large ensemble competition. Little did I know that Mike’s invitation for me to contribute to this weeklong celebration of all things horn would profoundly change my life and open up a whole new world of possibilities and friendships.
The first two horn professors to reach out asking about my piece were Tulsa Symphony member Lanette Lopez Compton and Canadian Brass member Jeff Nelsen who teach at Oklahoma State University and Indiana University, respectively. Their interest and enthusiastic support were heartwarming and the thought that I might have something to offer educators was really exciting. I owe much of the direction I’ve received in life to my music teachers and I’m convinced that, without their guidance and wisdom, I’d have wandered off aimlessly like some buggy video game character. So, along with a performance and recording generously provided by Los Angeles-based hornist and engineer Preston Shepard, I released the music online. (You can hear Mr. Shepard’s performance here. MH)
Before long, I started connecting with professors and students across the United States as they heard about and began programming my five-minute piece in their studio recitals and concerts. It was a blast and so very satisfying. Most of what I compose, television underscore, is produced in complete isolation and often so quickly I forget what I did just a few hours ago. Writing concert music, by contrast, places me in a different frame of mind and provides far more time to savor the entire process. In addition, the feeling of knowing one’s work will be performed for an audience is akin to seeing your child return from a birthday party with a big smile and a fistful of colorful balloons.
The 47th International Horn Symposium was scheduled to take place in Los Angeles so Mike suggested I attend. Annie Bosler, who was co-host of the annual event and Jeff, who was then president of the International Horn Society, thought I should write something for Jeff to perform as soloist with concert band. By now, I had been invited to the Facebook Horn People group, where I was learning a lot more about this great instrument, as well as some of the technical challenges and musical preferences of its members, both amateur and professional. I knew there could be no offbeats in this new work. No, this composition was going to be one in which all horns on stage would be heard.
In August of 2015, Jeff gave the world premiere performance of “Wingspan” with the Colburn School Adult Wind Ensemble in the closing concert of IHS 47. It was a fantastic way to end the week. I had spent the previous few days listening to interviews, performances, and meeting many of the new friends I had made since the release of “Mountain Spires.” It was also fun to rub elbows with a few superstars, including Jeff. He and I had spoken about his new piece in the months before the convention, but being able to spend time with him in person, watch him work, and hear his thoughts about other artist-related topics, was extra special.
That academic year, the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble led by Dr. Paul Popiel accompanied Jeff in a second performance of “Wingspan” which I shared on YouTube. In the months following the release of the video, I felt as if a wish from my days as a teen was becoming a reality: I was finally getting a chance to work with the kids in band. Horn players, from high school students to seasoned professionals, along with their teachers and music directors, were discovering and performing my little piece, and with each concert came an opportunity for me to meet someone new, learn about another school or community group, and in the case of international artists, use Google Translate. In 2019, “Wingspan” went on tour throughout America with several military bands including the United States Army Field Band. I had heard soloist Sergeant Major Robert Cherry and his fellow horn players perform at IHS 47 and was honored he would choose to share my work with his audiences. How I wish that my parents, who immigrated to the US, had been alive to attend one of the band’s concerts. I can only imagine how proud and excited they would have been.
My artist friends, who increase in number each year, have greatly expanded my knowledge base, worldview, and further clarified what it means to be a musician. They’ve even helped realize the commissioning of new works for orchestra and band, along with a world premiere at Carnegie Hall. This year, in 2022, both of my compositions for horn head to Texas, where “Wingspan” will be performed by the East Texas Symphonic Band featuring soloist Dr. Andrea Denis while “Mountain Spires,” now on the University Interscholastic League’s prescribed music list for the Texas State Solo-Ensemble Contest, will be presented by her students before the concert. I’m just thrilled.
Although I’ve always known how music can unify and foster relationships between people, I am deeply grateful to the community of horn players and the sense of camaraderie it projects. This fellowship continues to connect me to wonderful individuals all over the globe, and provides some very welcome solace during these trying times.
Gary Kuo is a six-time Emmy award-winning composer and violinist based in Los Angeles.
Advisory Council Elections
Annual elections for the IHS Advisory Council open on February 1, 2022. There are two ways to vote:  either online when you're logged in under your member account, or  with the mail-in postcard included in the February issue of The Horn Call. Please vote—your voice matters!
The Horn in Egypt
by Amr Abulnaga
There are two orchestras in Cairo, Egypt’s capital city: the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, and the Cairo Opera Orchestra, both of which provide full time positions with ten-month annual engagements. There is also a semi-professional orchestra in Alexandria on the north coast, the Alexandria Bibliotheca Orchestra, which performs once a month during their season.
Since I returned to Egypt in 2008, I have performed a few solo recitals. I also established the Cairo Horn Quartet and the Cairo Brass Quintet. These groups, regrettably, only lasted until 2017. Beyond these, there is normally little else in the way of regular featured horn performances or chamber music.
I have recently established the Mosaic quintet, a unique combination of musicians specializing in both Arabic and Western classical music. Besides myself, Hany Al-Badry performs on nay (or ney, a traditional end-blown flute), Mohamed Essam on piano, Ahmad Osman on double bass, and Hisham Kamal on percussion. Mosaic’s instrumental line-up recalls jazz combos in which one or more solo instruments (here, horn and nay) become the protagonists of the show, accompanied by a rhythm section. But in Mosaic, the horn adds a Western classical flavor while the nay provides the color of traditional Arabic music. The result is of interest to a large segment of the Egyptian audience which enjoys Western harmonies and Arabic melodies alike. The Western ear is not accustomed to the Arabic maqamat [musical modes], but the dialogue created between the horn and the nay appeals to those listeners’ tastes, as well. My colleagues and I share the same passion and the same inspiration, believing that we can present something new and “outside the box.” Mosaic’s...
Meet the Manila Symphony Horns
by Michael Estrella
They are not just a group of horn players, they are a family who makes music together.
Dennis, Michael, Jovina, and Celso (L-R in the photo) constitute the horn section of the 96-year old Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO), one of the oldest orchestras in Asia, and the most active, living artistic institution in the Philippines. Although the players vary widely in age, their passion for playing makes it natural for them to keep learning and mastering their craft for the benefit of their section and, certainly, of the orchestra to which they belong. It is not just about playing their instruments; it is about tuning into each other and harmonizing with the music and the collective whole.
Let’s get to know the horn players of the Manila Symphony Orchestra:
Celso De Leon Jr. was born into a family of musicians and has been playing the horn for several decades. He started to play the instrument at age 10 under the guidance of his uncle, Virgilio De Leon, a clarinetist, and he is the third generation in his family to become a member of the MSO. Celso was one the pioneering members when the MSO was reorganized in 2001, and he is currently principal horn. Although Celso studied Business Management at the University of the East in Manila, music is his passion. He pursued his career as a horn player under the tutelage of Prof. Leopoldo Lopez and Danielle Kuhlman. Aside from his work in MSO, Celso has also been a member of the Manila City Band since 1987.
Michael Estrella has been a member of the Manila Symphony Orchestra since 2014 and is currently assistant principal of the section. In 2020, he was named first runner-up in the Philippine Hornplayers Society’s First Leopoldo Lopez Horn Competition in which...
IHS Awards and Scholarships
Please visit hornsociety.org/about-the-ihs/scholarships for current information and deadlines on our awards and scholarships. The application deadline is generally April 1, so please take a look and apply!
Latin America in Two New Voices
by Gabriella Ibarra
Hello wonderful One horn community!
From Latin America, I am happy to present to you two new projects that began during the pandemic: ¿¡Y POR QUÉ NO!? and Octeto Feminino do Brasil. Both have been working with the motivation to produce innovative audiovisual content with distinguishing characteristics. Thanks to their creators for providing us with first-hand information on the genesis, configuration, participants, releases, and current status of the projects.
Verónica Guardia: ¿¡Y POR QUÉ NO!? (AND WHY NOT!?)
“This project was born as a result of the interest to show the horn in a setting completely opposite and alien to classical music. YPQN is a project that arose from Daniel Zárate and myself (Vero la cornista) to promote Latin American musical styles as a new language for the horn. Usually, the horn is intended to be a symphonic instrument; but thanks to numerous fine horn players, the instrument is beginning to be a part of jazz, salsa, merengue, reggaeton, etc. The purpose of this project is to continue promoting new and emerging artists who are involved in these musical styles without neglecting our great past.
“In 2021, we had three releases which included contributions from great players from several Latin American countries: Nuez Orquesta and Emilio Galvez from Chile, Claudio Bande from Argentina, Arturo Ortiz from Mexico, Víctor Prado from Brazil, Melany León from Ecuador, Diego Parra from Colombia, and, from Spain, La Coctelera del Indio; and we concluded with performances by great horn players from the world of popular music: Joshua Pantoja, Giovanni Hoffer, Pau Moltó, and Dante Yenque.
“For 2022, we are programming the new season...
by Patrick Hughes
The “how-too” is an exercise first presented to me when I was studying horn with Doug Hill. It’s one of the regular high-range exercises I share with my students at the University of Texas at Austin. This exercise teaches a specific body rhythm when starting pitches in the upper range. Often, we start high pitches with a three-count approach (1=inhale; 2=close the throat and set tension in the lips; and 3=explode on the note). The “how-too” exercise eliminates count 2 where we tend to close our throats and overset our embouchures, basically creating tension before the note. So, the body rhythm is now a two-count approach: 1=inhale—letting go of tension in the upper body by inhaling “how” (this opens the back of the throat); and 2=the start of the note (or “too”).
The “how” releases any tension held in the upper body—it’s very “chill.” Conversely, the “too” is assertive and quick, and it happens at the moment our throat is most open, when we’re at the bottom of the breath. During the “how” inhalation, a deep breath really isn’t necessary, think of it more as a body relaxation rather than a taking-in of air—you’re only going to play one quick note, so you don’t need much air. Also, keep the mouthpiece “at bay” while inhaling/relaxing (“how”) and bring your lips to the mouthpiece as you say “how” (notice how your lips come forward when you shape the “w”). The “too” is a quick note with an open end at a comfortable dynamic. Be assertive with your “too.” Don’t hesitate! Articulate “too” before you think you’re ready to play a note. Most students find it easier to get the rhythm of the “how-too” by counting or setting a metronome to 4/4: inhale/relax the...
IHS 54 - Call for Proposals
- Warm-up Sessions
- Embouchure Health
- Fun with Historical Instruments
- Participant Ensemble Director
- —your topic of choice
YOUTH DAYS — August 5-6
- Warm-up Sessions
- Career Opportunities
- College Prep
- Performance Tips
- Practice Tips
- —your topic of choice
OTHER PROPOSAL TYPES
Contributing Artist Lectures, Solo and/or Chamber Performances, Warm-up Session Presentations, plus Horn Ensemble Performing Groups at the Professional, University, and Pre-University levels
All proposals must be submitted by April 1, 2022 at the IHS54 Marketplace Store. *Presenters must be registered for the entire week of IHS54 before proposals are accepted and scheduled. Presenters for Youth Days must be registered for August 5-6. All presenters are responsible for their own travel, lodging, and food expenses.
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