Most horn players are familiar with the Fripperies, Quipperies, Tripperies, etc. of Lowell ("Spike") Shaw. Spike has made these and other arrangements and compositions available through his publishing company, The Hornists' Nest, and Spike can be found at an exhibit table at most international symposiums and many regional workshops.
Spike was born in 1930 in Joliet IL. Both his parents were amateur performers who believed in the value of musical training. His father brought a horn home when Spike was in the sixth grade, a rental from Lyon and Healy in Chicago. Spike had been studying piano for several years with little enthusiasm. After a few months, his grade school teacher sent him to a trombonist, Jaroslav Cimera, with whom Spike studied until his senior year in high school, when he studied with Max Pottag. When Spike was a high school sophomore, he played second horn to Jim Winter in the Oak Park-River Forest Symphony when Jim was working on an advanced degree at Northwestern University. That association sparked Spike's interest in making horn his career.
Spike earned a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1951, continuing his studies with Max Pottag, who stressed musical playing in their large horn ensembles. A smaller group met on its own. Some arrangements for that group are now in the Hornists' Nest catalog. After graduation, Spike played in the US Air Force Band at Sampson AFB near Geneva NY for four years. The members were encouraged to arrange music for the many groups within the organization; "it became a four-year lab course in playing and writing," remembers Spike. Occasionally the dance bands were short a trombone, and Spike filled in, learning how to play the uneven eights that are the basis of the Fripperies.
Spike went back to Northwestern for a master's degree. Philip Farkas was then the horn teacher, and he guided Spike in changing his embouchure. In 1956, Spike started auditioning and won the position of second horn in the Buffalo Philharmonic, where he stayed until 1994. He started teaching at the University of Buffalo in 1957 and founded The Hornists' Nest in 1964.
Asked about the origins of the Fripperies, Spike explains, "The first Frippery was written as an exercise for my horn students at the University of Buffalo. For several years I was the band director at UB as well as the horn instructor. There was interest among the band students in forming a dance band, and, as there weren't too many charts available at that time, I began writing arrangements for the group. As long as I was going to be at the rehearsals anyway, I added a horn part to the standard big band instrumentation so I could play along. The horn students were eager to have the chance to participate, and we were soon using a horn section of four players. Rather than let them embarrass themselves the way I had when I first had the chance to play that style music, it seemed best to give them some small exposure to particularly the eighth-note patterns that are so different from what we had experienced in the Kopprasch books. My aim was to give them some idea where those pesky final off-the-beat eights fall within the uneven swing notation."
The name "frippery" came about because "I was looking for something to suggest the frivolous, fun, light-hearted nature of the music. The word 'fripperies' came to mind, and it was several years later when I finally looked up the real meaning of the word. Something about a cheap, showy bauble of little intrinsic worth was the nicest of the definitions. Somehow, it stuck."
Spike organized his university students into a horn choir as he was convinced, from his experience with Pottag, that the ensemble was a good teaching tool. Area professionals and high school students joined, forming the Buffalo Horn Club, which played some of the LA Horn Club arrangements as well as original compositions. A member who was moving away suggested that, instead of copying the arrangements just once for his future use, they start a publishing venture in 1964. "Four of us put up $100 each, talked to a lawyer, ran off some copies of HN 1, 2, and 3, and then mailed a copy of the Five Bach Trios to all the horn players we could think of. The business gradually grew from there. … Two of the original investors left the area and one took a break from the horn, so I was left doing most of the chores. Gradually it became clear that it was really a one-man operation and I bought the others out. What started out as a spare time activity now keeps me quite occupied in my retirement."
In addition to the Fripperies, the first of which were written in the 1960s and which now number 40, Spike has written 19 Bipperies, 4 Tripperies, 8 Quipperies, and 13 Just Desserts for solo horn with optional string bass parts – and counting.
Spike has arranged many other works for horn choir. "The name Bach seems to show up quite frequently in our catalog. There is rarely a dull line in a Bach composition. Each voice is always heading somewhere."
Spike says, “I feel fortunate that I discovered an unfilled niche and had the background and experience to take advantage of it. I still enjoy playing in horn ensembles, attending workshops, and keeping in touch with the many friends I have made through music.”
Spike received the Punto award at the 1990 symposium at Eastern Illinois University and was award Honorary Membership at the 2010 symposium in Brisbane, Australia. An interview with him appears in the February 2000 issue of The Horn Call.
Kim graduated from Seoul High School of the Arts and Seoul National University, then earned a Master of Music degree from Temple University and Doctor of Musical Arts and Performer’s Certificate from Eastman School of Music. His teachers have included Mason Jones, Joe de Angelis, Daniel Williams, Randy Gardner, and Verne Reynolds.
Kim has toured with the Eastman Philharmonia and the Eastman Wind Ensemble. He has performed recitals in Philadelphia, Rochester, Seoul, Taejeon, and at the IHS symposium in Athens GA. He has been associate principal horn of the KBS Symphony and acting principal of the Puchon Philharmonic.
Kim has appeared as soloist with the KBS Symphony, Seoul Chamber Orchestra, Pusan Philharmonic, Seoul Symphony, Seoul Art Orchestra, among others.
Kim is a professor of music at Seoul National University where he teaches horn, directs the horn ensemble, coaches chamber music, and leads the SNU Wind Ensemble. He is a founding member of the Korea Aulos Woodwind Quintet, the Seoul Brass Quintet, and the Charity Chamber Ensemble. He directs the Korean Horn Society Horn Ensemble.
Kim received the Punto Award at the IHS symposium in Beijing in 2000.
Brice Andrus is admired for his beautiful sound and for his focus and composure as principal horn in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. His teaching also pays particular attention to sound and tone production, even for beginners.
Andrus followed an unusual path to his career in music. He had some lessons as a youth with Donald Schulz, a Farkas student, but he entered Georgia State University as a pre-med student. A "wretched" chemistry class met in a room just below where a brass ensemble was rehearsing. The combination of an unmotivating class and wonderful music-making above sent him for a change-of-major form. He studied with trombonist Bill Hill, conductor of the brass ensemble. He became assistant principal horn of the Atlanta Symphony that freshman year, soon moved to third, and became principal in 1975.
After getting into the Atlanta Symphony, Andrus began taking lessons with Forrest Stanley in Pittsburg every three months or so. He also credits the orchestra itself with developing his musicianship. "I really had the perspective of growing up in a symphony orchestra, getting to listen to great players through the years, and having such a wonderful section to play with."
Andrus plays with chamber ensembles and other groups outside the symphony, including PDQ Bach and overdubbing for Bruce Springsteen (the producer was based in Atlanta) with the orchestra horn section. In addition to recording symphonic works with the orchestra, he has recorded the Brahms Trio and premiered many works. He is on the faculty at Emory University.
Andrus received the Punto Award at the IHS workshop in Athens GA in 1999. A profile appears in the August 1999 issue of The Horn Call.
Fu was born in 1935 and started studying horn at age 10. His teachers were Mr. Shimizu from Japan and Mr. Kosikin from the former Soviet Union. He joined the Shen Yang Military Command Band, and in 1956 he became a soloist, playing most of the Mozart horn concertos, Beethoven Sonata, Saint-Saëns Concertpiece, and the Gliere Concerto.
Fu retired from the band in 1961 and began teaching at the Shen Yang Conservatory of Music. He served the Wind Department Coordinator for many years and established the wind teaching curriculum for the brass department. Some of his ideas have been published in Chinese music periodicals.
Many of Fu’s students have won prizes, are playing in orchestras, or are teaching at conservatories. Fu has attended IHS symposiums and helped to arrange visits by well-known teachers and players to his conservatory as well as to other conservatories in China.
Fu received the Punto Award at the IHS symposium in Beijing in 2000.
Lowell Greer holds a unique place among the hornists of his generation. Known for his musicianship and versatility with or without valves, he has received critical acclaim and international recognition as an orchestral hornist, chamber musician, soloist, educator, and horn maker.
A Wisconsin native, Lowell began violin studies at age 4 and took up horn at age 12 due to a hand injury. His parents, both college professors, changed jobs several times, so Lowell had many horn teachers, the most notable being Ernani Angelucci of the Cleveland Orchestra. Lowell returned to Wisconsin to study with John Barrows at the University of Wisconsin and then pursued studies in Chicago with Helen Kotas, Frank Brouk, Dale Clevenger, and Ethel Merker. While in Chicago, he freelanced extensively, performing with the Chicago Civic Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, shows, recordings, and as extra horn with both the Chicago and Milwaukee Symphonies.
Lowell joined the Detroit Symphony in 1972 as assistant principal. In 1978, he accepted the position of principal horn of the Mexico City Philharmonic and began to pursue his solo career. In 1980, he moved to Europe to better pursue his natural horn interests, and performed in Belgium as guest principal horn of the Antwerp Philharmonic/Royal Flemish Orchestra. He returned to the US in 1984, where he served as principal horn of the Cincinnati Symphony until 1986. He also performed as principal of the Toledo Symphony from 1990-1997.
During this time, he won seven first prizes at six prestigious international horn competitions: Heldenleben (1977), Gian Battista Viotti, Vercelli (1978), Hubertus Jaachthoornfestival (1979), SACEM, Paris (1981), Jacques-Francois Gallay (1981), and American (1983, 1984).
As a soloist, Lowell has performed on natural and modern horn with some fifty orchestras in the US, Canada, Mexico, and all across Europe, not to mention his appearances at numerous chamber music venues. His extensive discography includes four CD’s on Harmonium Mundi, including the Mozart Horn Concertos and Quintet, Brahms Horn Trio, and the Beethoven Sonata on natural horn, and a recording for Decca L’oiseau Lyre of the entire music of Mozart for winds performed on original instruments.
A dedicated scholar and educator, Lowell has taught at Wheaton College, Oakland University, Interlochen Arts Academy, the School for Perfection in Mexico City, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Michigan, and at the Carl Neilsen Academy in Odense, Denmark. An acclaimed expert on natural horn performance, his research has led him to become a maker of fine reproductions of classic instruments, and he has taught a course in natural horn building techniques at the William Cummings House since 1994.
Lowell was honored with the Punto Award at the 2008 International Horn Symposium in Denver, where he led his natural horn group, the Hunting Horns of General Washington.
Sean Kierman and his wife, Pamela, have been driving forces in professional music and music education in South Africa. They are active in the South African Horn Society (SAHS), as founders and currently as sponsors and members of the Board of Directors, and they, along with other members of the society, were responsible for organizing the International Horn Symposium in Cape Town in 2006. Dr. Paul Loeb van Zuilenburg refers to Sean as the father of university concert bands in South Africa.
Sean was born in Portland OR and educated in China, Pakistan, India, and the US as the son of a diplomatic family. He studied at Antioch University (OH), then did postgraduate studies at Wits University (University of Witwatersrand) while playing horn with the SABC Symphony Orchestra. He played in the Durban Symphony Orchestra, then studied politics and psychology at the University of the Free State.
Sean established the Free State Instrumental Program and the OFS Symphony Orchestra. In 1979, he started the brass studies program at the University of Port Elizabeth, and in 1987 he moved to Cape Town, where he is head of brass studies at the South African College of Music (UCT) and coordinates the course in musical acoustics at the University of Cape Town.
Sean was honored with the Punto Award at the 2006 International Horn Workshop in recognition of his leadership in South Africa. An important aspect of the symposium was sponsorship of instruments for SAHS and Navy Outreach programs and a tour for symposium attendees to visit students participating in the outreach programs.
Milan Yancich played in the Rochester Philharmonic for 43 years, taught at the Eastman School of Music, and published books and music through his Wind Music publishing company, notably Philip Farkas's books and Milan's own method and An Orchestral Musician's Odyssey. He was generous with his time and money; he initiated the Geyer and Alexander scholarships at the IHS from book sales proceeds.
Milan was born in 1921 and grew up in Whiting IN. He earned degrees from the University of Michigan and Northwestern University and took lessons from Philip Farkas during some summers. He served in an Army band during World War II, then, in quick succession, played with the Columbus (OH) Philharmonic Orchestra (1946-1948), the Jerry Wold Dance Orchestra, assistant first with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1948-1951), principal and third with the Cleveland Orchestra (1951-1952), solo horn with the American Broadcasting Studio Orchestra (1953), and one year teaching at Michigan State University before being hired by the Rochester Philharmonic in 1954, where over the next 43 years he played all positions at one time or another.
Milan was life-long student. He studied with vocalists M. Birney and Professor Kraft at Eastman, tubist Arnold Jacobs, cornet soloist Bahumir Kryl, and Richard Moore of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra.
Milan carried a heavy teaching schedule at Eastman, including teaching horn students, coaching woodwind chamber groups, attending brass and percussion juries and recitals, and teaching horn in the preparatory division. In addition to the Rochester Philharmonic (1954-1997), he also played in the Rochester Civic Orchestra, the Eastman Philharmonic Orchestra, and 27 seasons of principal horn with the Lake Placid Sinfonietta. He taught at Ohio State University, Capital University, and Baldwin-Wallace College. He also taught for a few summers at the Morehead and Gunnison Band Camps.
Wind Music Inc. was first a partnership between Milan and Philip Farkas. Although Milan soon bought out Farkas, he continued to supply Farkas's books. Milan published a method book with accompanying records to demonstrate concepts and techniques.
Milan served on the IHS Advisory Council (1981–84, 1998–2001) and led the IHS scholarship activities for several years. He was given the Punto award at the 1997 symposium at Eastman. Tributes appear in the November 1997 and February 2008 issues of The Horn Call.
Gail Williams is admired for her tenure at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, her teaching at Northwestern University and at many clinics and workshops around the world, her solo and ensemble playing, and her support of new music.
Gail grew up on a farm in a musical family. Her mother studied percussion and viola; her brother, clarinet. Gail studied with Jack Covert at Ithaca College, then earned a master's degree at Northwestern University and performed with Lyric Opera of Chicago for four years before winning the audition for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1978. She was assistant principal until winning the position of associate principal in 1984, where she remained until retiring in 1998.
Gail teaches at Northwestern University (since 1989), gives master classes at innumerable conservatories and workshops, is horn soloist with major orchestras, and is dedicated to performing chamber music. In 2001, 2005, and 2009, she has served as a judge for the Horn Solo Competition in Porcia, Italy and has coached young brass musicians with Summit Brass since 1986. She has been on the faculty of the Swiss Brass Week in Leukerbad, Switzerland for several years. Her music education degree and playing experience come together in her current teaching.
Gail is principal horn with the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra and was principal horn with the Saito Kenin Orchestra in Japan in 2004 and the World Orchestra for Peace in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009.
Gail has performed as soloist with the Chicago Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Sinfonia da Camera, New World Symphony, the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony, Fairbanks Symphony, Green Bay Symphony, and a number of regional orchestras.
Gail is a founding member of the Chicago Chamber Musicians and Summit Brass. She has performed with the Vermeer Quartet, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York City, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Skaneateles Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the Olympic Peninsula Chamber Festival, and she was the featured artist on a chamber music series in Ottawa, Canada with the National Arts Orchestra of Canada.
Gail is active in commissioning projects and has premiered new works by Dana Wilson, Anthony Plog, Oliver Knussen, Yehudi Wyner, Collins Matthews, and others. In 1995, she premiered Deep Remembering by Dana Wilson and Anthony Plog’s Postcards at the International Horn Society Workshop in Yamagata, Japan. In 1997, she premiered Dana Wilson’s Horn Concerto with the Syracuse Symphony. A year later, she performed the Knussen Horn Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Knussen. She helped commission Yehudi Wyner’s Horntrio, and was involved in the orchestration of Dragons in the Sky by Mark Schultz. She premiered another horn and piano work by Dana Wilson, Musings, in 2003 and performed the US premiere of a concerto for Horn and Orchestra by Collins Matthews at Northwestern University in June of 2005.
Gail can be heard on recordings from Summit Brass, including solo recordings 20th Century Settings and Deep Remembering, and Northwestern University’s Goddess Triology, featuring compositions by John McCabe and works for horn and percussion by Charles Taylor and Eric Wilder. A CD with the Chicago Chamber Musicians was nominated for a Grammy award.
Gail has been honored by Ithaca College with a Distinguished Alumni Award and an honorary doctorate. She received the Charles Deering McCormick Teaching Professorship at Northestern University in 2005, which allowed her to commission and performed new chamber works by Douglas Hill, Dana Wilson, and Augusta Reed Thomas. She was a member of the IHS Advisory Council (1997-2000) and received the Punto award in 2008.