The Midnorth Horn Workshop took place October 24-26th, 2014 at The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. The well attended gathering was hosted by Dr. Sarah Schmalenberger, associate professor of music history and studio horn at The University of St. Thomas. Dr. Schmalenberger put together a wonderful three day event packed full of activities, great sessions and many horn vendors.
Friday afternoon started off with solo and quartet competitions both at the high school and collegiate level. The UBER Horn Quartet(Chicago, IL) performed a special recital at the close of the student auditions. Their beautiful blend of tone and flawless technique set a perfect transition into the official start of the workshop. UBER hornists coached two student quartets toward Sunday performances: a high school quartet comprised of students in the Twin Cities, and a quartet from Lawrence University Conservatory. Immediately following the UBER Horn Quartet’s recital was a special welcome reception which featured a performance by the Twin Cities Horn Club. This fun performance was conducted by Herbert Winslow of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Closing out Friday evening was a recital given by guest artist Jeff Nelsen, IHS president and faculty member at Indiana University. He opened with a beautiful arrangement of &Summertime& by Gershwin. Later in the recital, Denise Tryon joined Mr. Nelsen for duet arrangements of the Bach cello suites. It was a poised and exciting performance and a crowd pleaser.
Saturday morning began with a group warm up and three smaller sessions followed by Denise Tryon‘s masterclass. Ms. Tryon had many helpful tips, especially concerning the horns low register and the technique of the horn. Later that afternoon was Jeff Nelsen’s masterclass. Nelsen’s masterclass presented a captivating explanation of his celebrated Fearless Performance method for performers, followed by an application of its tenets toward coaching three students who participated in the solo auditions the day before.
Saturday evening featured Denise Tryon’s solo recital. This exciting recital included many new works that Ms. Tryon had commissioned to especially showcase the low register of the horn. She presented a musical and skilled recital. This performance was further proof that she is one of the best low horn players in the world. Not only was it a stunning performance, but it was a homecoming for Ms. Tryon as she grew up in the Twin Cities. She had many friends and family members in attendance.
Sunday began with another group warm-up. Following the group warm-up was a delightful natural horn demonstration by Rene Pagen(guest principal horn of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) and John Putnam (Principal horn, Michigan Philharmonic). Both had the audience riveted from the very beginning, including playing Kopprasch and a number of duets on natural horn. They also spoke about the history of the natural horn and the relevancy to modern day performance. Mr. Putnam is a protege of the great Lowell Greer and represented him well.
To close out the events on the St. Thomas campus was a special masterclass with the horn section of the Minnesota Orchestra. Section playing was largely the focus of the class. They played selections, but also spoke about their various roles in the section and how they work together.
The workshop closed with a special celebration concert hosted by the Colonial Chamber series which is co-produced by Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, 3rd horn of the Minnesota Orchestra. The concert opened with the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra (MoMO) Honors Horn Ensemble. This ensemble was an auditioned group of high school hornists that rehearsed throughout the course of the workshop. This was a great opportunity for students to work with great horn players. They presented an exciting and poised performance. The second half of the performance featured the Minnesota Orchestra horn section (Michael Gast, Brian Jensen, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith and Bruce Hudson), René Pagen, Jeff Nelsen and Denise Tryon. They performed many large horn ensemble works including Csardas for solo horn and horn ensemble featuring a virtuoso and exciting performance by René Pagen. They closed with Farewell to Red Castle by Kerry Turner. This was a perfect ending to a great horn gathering.
A special thank you to all the vendors who took the time to travel to St. Paul and share all of the wonderful horns and horn accessories that were available there to try. The vendors that came to Midnorth are as follows:
Band Instrument Repair Program (Red Wing, MN)
Pope Instrument Repair
Siegfried’s Call Inc.
Wichita Band Instrument Company
Photos courtesy of Cavitt Productions