Slide Horn Roundtable
by James Hampson, with Shanyse Strickland and Susan Anderson
In a live-streamed recital this summer at IHS53, Dr. James Hampson premiered Lazy Bones, a new work by Shanyse Strickland for a newly (re)designed instrument, the slide horn, or corno da tirarsi, built by Susan Anderson. Here, the three artists engage in a roundtable discussion about the power of collaboration between builder, composer, and performer:
Lazy Bones is a piece exploring the movement of bones, the human body’s physical foundation which interacts with everyday life in a world that is constantly changing around us. The design of the human body, its functions, and, most importantly, the dexterity it possesses, is something that has always been a fascinating phenomenon which moves beyond science into the spiritual world. Lazy Bones explores different events one experiences in life while presenting the horn in some familiar and some not-so-familiar territories; Lazy Bones tells a story as much as it provides a demonstration of what the slide horn can do. Strickland sees this piece as opening doors for more composers to write specifically for this instrument in new ways.
Susan Anderson is a repair technician and instrument builder in Portland, Oregon. She got her start in brass instrument repair during her undergraduate years at the University of North Texas, and she founded Jackalope Brassworks in 2012 while completing her master’s degree in horn performance at the University of Oregon. The project's original intent was to make a historically informed instrument more accessible to horn players by combining a custom slide with an ordinary posthorn. Adapting the design to complement the demands of modern composition was, for Susan, a fun challenge.
Shanyse Strickland is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger from Akron, Ohio. Shanyse received her undergraduate degree in horn performance at Youngstown State University and a graduate degree at Duquesne University, and she recently earned an artist diploma in jazz horn at Montclair State University in New Jersey where she now resides. Shanyse is currently freelancing in New Jersey and New York while focusing on her newest endeavors as a modern composer, taking on projects that she hopes will shape the future of art music.
Dr. James Hampson holds a doctorate from Boston University in historical performance on natural and historic horns as the first person in the country to pursue this degree. He is guest instructor of natural horn at Oberlin Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Hampson owns Hampson Horns, a business specializing in rare and antique brass instruments. This slide horn is one of many projects he has in the works to make historic instruments and knowledge more available and accessible to all.
Pedagogy - About Teaching
by Hervé Joulain
When starting to plan seriously to bring our most promising students to the highest level (I mean becoming world-class performers), there is an essential argument that is, to me, not considered often enough. In the chapter entitled Musicality in my book, Advanced Method for Horn (Phoenix Publications), I call it the problem of gravity.
As long as I have been teaching, listening in turn to etudes, excerpts, or concertos, I have noticed students over-playing a phrase or motif. Not satisfied with looking after their air or fingerings, horn players accompany the musical line with excessive physical movements. This lack of restraint can make the playing seem heavy and exaggerated. Despite their good intentions, this moves them away from what they wanted to convey musically. All the excess motion disturbs the flow of the music and indicates that they haven’t really got a clue what is happening with the phrase.
The bulk of our repertoire uses the two upper octaves (mid-range and high). If this is the default position in our minds, then everything below it ends up low in every sense of the word. If we play thinking upwards, as a singer would, it brings a lightness, ease, and brilliance to our playing, whereas playing to the bottom can be inelegant and can constitute an obstacle to music-making.
Such relaxation also keeps us listening to the intonation of the piano, with whom we frequently have a dialogue. An image comes to mind of the way gravity pulls an object downwards with the weight of the air above it. A first marker of progress can be to record oneself before attempting to correct something. This is always a good idea, as the recording asks us first to act then to critique.
But the best way to solve the sound-color problem caused by an excess of theatrics is to adopt the standard range as a technical recipe: not tinkering with the three standard octaves prevents the distortion of your sound. Returning to the analogy of gravity, atmospheric pressure convinces us that air pressure is the antidote to these curious anomalies.
My “war horse” is working on the difference in the registers, seeking to produce a unified tone color (which everyone seeks) without necessarily imagining the need to shift embouchures to accomplish this. To be more specific, teachers normally start out novice students with the idea of the horn having a lower and an upper register, each divided into two equal two-octave segments. Let’s not forget that most students first produce notes which are right in the middle of these four octaves.
To accomplish the necessary change of focus, my approach is as follows: find the most natural placement of the lips around low C (the last note in the opening solo of Till Eulenspiegel), and then manage the three octaves above that with continuous abdominal support.
Continuous abdominal support results in a high range with less mouthpiece pressure, bringing out a greater richness of sound, flexibility, and physical endurance. For the low register, from low C down to pedal C, only one change of position is then required.
Hervé Joulain performed with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France from 1987 to 1997, then with the Orchestre National de France and the Orchestre de Paris under the direction of renowned conductors Zubin Metha, Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa, Kurt Mazur, Charles Dutoit, Riccardo Muti, and others. In the year 2000, he made his debut in the United States and Canada, performing Strauss and Mozart concertos with 110 different orchestras.
Since December 2002, Joulain has been solo horn in the Symphonica Toscanini (Italy), appointed to this position by Lorin Maazel. Recently, he performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw.
From 1994 to 1998, he was professor of horn at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris. He has given over 40 master classes in France, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Canada, Brazil, Ireland, Spain, England, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands.
Joulain‘s discography includes more than 20 recordings for various record labels.
IHS: The First 50 Years
International Horn Society: The First 50 Years commemorative book is almost here! We are expecting delivery near the end of October and will start shipping our pre-orders soon thereafter. We know you will be enthralled with this book—it includes something for everyone! Combining the visual aspects of a coffee table book with the substance of a history book, over its 250 pages, you will find chapters on IHS forerunners (by William Melton), how the IHS was formed, its programs and activities, including all of our international workshops/symposia, and its people! Please visit ihs53.com/the-book to order your copy. Want to know more? Take a listen to our podcast on the making of the book, found on hornsociety.org/publications/horn-call/podcast, "Bonus Episode: IHS 50th Anniversary Book."
IHS53: Our ONE Horn Community
IHS53: Our ONE Horn Community remains open and available until November 22! We hope you are continuing to enjoy all of the amazing presentations and recorded live-streams from our week-long online symposium in August. You can still register for access as there is still plenty of time to enjoy the masterclasses, lectures, and performances! Visit ihs53.com for links to the online symposium, registration, and SWAG!
In Memoriam, Vicente Zarzo
by José Zarzo
Vicente Zarzo passed away on September 14, 2021, at the age of 83. He was not only a great father, but he was also one of the greatest Spanish hornists of all time and one of the great horn players of the 20th Century.
He started his musical education at the academy of the local Wind Symphony Band, Unión Musical de Benaguacil, in his village in Valencia. Afterwards, he studied under Miguel Falomir at the Conservatory of Music in Valencia. Falomir was principal horn with the Valencia Orchestra, and he invited my father whenever he needed an extra. My father remembered especially well the first performance in Spain of Mahler's 3rd Symphony with the Valencia Orchestra.
He studied one year with Hans Noeth in Munich. Noeth was principal hornist with the Residenz Theater, now the Bavarian State Opera.
My father started his professional career as hornist with the Barcelona Opera Orchestra for two seasons, followed by one season with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (1960/61), then a three-month tour with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, based in Pittsburgh, USA.
From 1961-1968, he was co-principal horn with Gerald Thatcher (uncle of James Thatcher) in the National Symphony Orchestra of México. During this time, whenever the late Fred Fox came to play as an extra, my father took lessons from him. He considered Fred his greatest teacher, and they became great friends.
From 1968-1998, he was principal with The Hague Philharmonic, Het Residentie Orkest. With this orchestra, he played many concerts as a soloist (Mozart concertos 1, 3, and 4; Strauss concerto 1; Haydn concerto 2; the Britten Serenade, etc.) under eminent principal conductors Willem van Otterloo, Jean Martinon, Ferdinand Leitner, Hans Vonk, and Evgeny Svetlanov. During his years in The Netherlands, he served as guest principal with The Concertgebouw Orchestra under Carlo María Giulini, and he was professor at the Conservatories of Amsterdam and The Hague.
Some of my dad’s solo recordings can be found on the YouTube channel of my brother and colleague, Carlos Zarzo:
Many distinguished composers wrote concertos for him, including Eduardo Mata, Jan van Vlijmen, Amando Blanquer, Wim Laman, Paul de Roo, etc. He was named honorary member of the International Horn Society in August, 2020, and he considered this honor the crowning achievement of his career.
As his son and student, I enjoyed solfeggio lessons every morning from age 6, and from age 10 his exquisite horn instruction—and above all, free masterclasses every day just hearing him practice!
Now, I know in Heaven, he is enjoying the company of all deceased honorary members of the IHS, presided by Giovanni Punto, Dennis Brain and all the other great masters of our beloved instrument.
Rest in peace, dear Dad!