It has indeed been a very long time since I have written a new blog. Of course, I have been meaning to do so. But I was never so sure that what I had to offer was interesting to anyone else. So many things have happened since my last blog, which was released on my website last February.
I suppose the most noteworthy piece of news since then is the completion of my Concert for Horn and Orchestra, nicknamed « The Gothic. » This work was commissioned by Mr. Karl Pituch and the Detroit Symphony, and is scheduled to be premiered on May 24th and 25th , 2013. Kristina and I had just played the Concerto for Two Horns and Orchestra in Eb with the Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra about three times around Luxembourg and Germany. On the first half of that program we performed the Telemann Concerto in F.
Right after that, the two of us presented a full recital with our pianist, Lauretta Bloomer, at the Foyer Europeén Luxembourg. And that was immediately followed by yet another chamber recital at the Luxembourg Philharmonie Chamber Music Hall. On the latter concert, I had the chance to play the Hoffmeister Quintet for horn and string quartet- a work I had never before even heard.
And then, of course, came the American Horn Quartet tour of France, which was, as usual, a huge success. And that was my last blog.
So what have I been doing sice then ? Well, I sang an early music concert with Intermedii and an instrumental consort in April. I also flew to Boston to take the audition for third horn in the BSO. That was interesting ! It had been over ten years since I had taken an audition. It became incredibly clear to me just how different playing orchestral excerpts (and a piece of a concerto with no accompaniment) actually is from performing these works in their proper context with the proper instruments…with a real audience. In short, I played pretty poorly. And stumbled off the stage pretty shaken up.
But the most recent news was meant to be the focus of this blog. Kristina and I just returned from, what turned out to be, a world tour ! We both departed in early July for the States, where we shortly visited Kristina’s family in Oregon, and then attended my mother’s 80th birthday fiesta in San Antonio, Texas. Boarding the airplane with my brother, we embarked on the next leg of this tour- a long exploration of England and Scotland. While we were there, we met up with my friends from Intermedii in Wangford in Suffolk to sing a full concert at the Blytheburgh Cathedral, as well as a mass at the Wangford church the following day. The trip up to Scotland to tour the castles, see the highland games and attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo was nothing less than spectacular !
But our journeys were far from over. Returning home via Brussels, I flew to Prague for the 21st Interpretation Courses at the Hornclass Prague. On the evening of August 8, at the Terezian Hall of the Brevnov Monastery, I along with some top horn players, both professional and students, presented a concert comprised solely of my compositions. I myself sang on « Six Lives of Jack McBride » and played on the Sonata for Horn and Strings. It was a great honor for me to have such a prestigious horn festival dedicate an entire evening just to my music !
Four days later, Kristina and I headed off to Japan. We had been invited to be the guest artists at the Tsunobue Horn Camp in Choshi-shi. This yearly horn camp is open to professionals and students alike, and drew over 60 participants from all over Japan. Kristina and I taught privately and participated in the closing recital, where we played the Kalliwoda Introduction and Rondeau as well as my own « Twas a Dark and Stormy Night. » The program also included « Casbah of Tetouan », « Take 9 Fanfare » and « Farewell to Red Castle »- so really, another Turner Evening !
While in Japan, we were invited to attend a full horn day at the Ahorn Ensemble in Nagoya. This is a super enthusiastic group of players who have commissioned me for a number of works for horn ensemble. The most recent is my new piece for 8 horns called « Hymnus. » The Ahorn Ensemble won a big chamber brass competition in Kyoto performing this new work, and they played it for me there in Nagoya. They have also commissioned me for a mammoth work for horn choir called « The Seasons », which will be premiered in 2015.
After some sightseeing in Osaka and Kyoto, we continued our voyage to Thailand. Mr. Daren Robbins, professor of horn at Mahidol Universtity, organized a recital and masterclass at that new and very impressive school of music. The students were well prepared and the concert was a big success. And of course, we did plenty of sightseeing, including a 2 and a half day stay on the tiny island of Koh Samet.
Boarding the airplane for the second-to-last time, we flew to Dubai, a stop-over we had done before, but without exiting the airport. But this time, we did leave « airport land . » We rented lodgings in the old Arab quarter of Bastakiya in the Al Souk al Kabir. And so we ended our Summer travels exploring this exotic city, with an excursion out to the dunes of the dessert.
And now we are both home. And today, September 5th, is for both of us, the first day of work. What’s ahead ? Concerts with the OPL in Prague this weekend. Bruckner 7, Rosenkavalier, Tchaikovsky 1, Alpine Symphony, Ein Heldenleben, as well as three woodwind quintet concerts, an American Horn Quartet weekend in Wiesbaden, and a recital, once again with Kristina and Lauretta Bloomer, at the American Cathedral in Paris on December 2nd.
Oh, and I’ve been commissioned by the Japanese Horn Society to write a work for solo horn for their solo competition next August. But that’s another blog.