Sommer Nachrichten- Wirklich Kein Urlaub

September 20th, 2012 No comments

Es war ein sehr musikalisch beschäftiger Sommer für die beiden Hornisten, Kerry Turner (OPL) und Kristina Mascher (Orchestre de Chambre de Luxembourg). Unter dem Namen « The Virtuoso Horn Duo », spielten sie Konzerte in Prag, Japan und Thailand. Am 8. August in Prag, wurde Mr. Turner, als Ehrengast zu der 21. International Horn Courses « 2012 Praghornclass » eingeladen. Es wurde ein Konzert, dessen Programm nur mit der Musik von Turner, präsentiert. Turner selber hat bei zwei Werken mitgewirkt (Six Lives of Jack McBride, Sonata for Horn and Strings).

In Nagoya gab es ein ganzer « HornTag », wobei das preisgekrönte Hornensemble « Ahorn » mit den beiden Hornisten, viele Werke von Kerry Turner (Farewell to Red Castle, Malagena, Bronze Triptych, Hymnus, Ghosts of Dublin) vorgespielten. In Choshi-shi, im südosten von Japan, fand das « Tsenobue Horn Camp » statt, ein 4-Tage langes Seminar für Hornisten aus allen Ecken Japans. Am Schlusskonzert des Seminars, spielten Turner und Mascher, mit anderen professionellen Hornisten, vier Werke von Turner (Take 9 Fanfare, Farewll to Red Castle, Casbah of Tetouan, Twas a Dark and Stormy Night). Im Anschluss daran, flogen die zwei Musiker nach Bangkok, wo sie von der Mahidol University, eingeladen wurden, um ein Konzert und Masterclass zu geben.

Mr. Turner und Ms. Mascher haben in der Absehbaren Zukunft, Konzerte in Wiesbaden (mit dem American Horn Quartet) und Paris (Virtuoso Horn Duo.)

News from February till September, 2012

September 5th, 2012 No comments

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.

American Horn Quartet 2012 Tournée de France

February 11th, 2012 No comments

Je voudrais annoncer le prochaine grand événement du l’American Horn Quartet- une tournée de une semaine en France. Nous proposerons des masterclass et concerts à 4 endroits différents. L’itinéraire, ainsi l’information de contact de tout les organisateurs, sont comme suivant:
31.03.  Mulhouse

Venue: Conservatoire de musique, danse et art dramatique

14:00-17:00  Masterclass.  Attend the evening student concert.

01.04.  Concert Mulhouse 17:00. (“Journée du cor 2012”)

Contact:

Virginie Maillard: maillard.vir@voila.fr

02.04. Luxembourg

05.04. Travel day – drive to Sainte Hermine.

06.04.  Sainte Hermine

Concert: 20:30, Salle Polyvalente, Sainte Hermine (Festival des Veillées Musicales)

07.04. Cholet

14:00-17:00 Masterclass

08.04.

17:30 40-minute concert and then performance of Schumann Konzertstück with Brass Band

The Repertoire for this tour is as follows:

Ouverture  “Le Nozze de Figaro”                                                            W. A. Mozart

Andante                                                                                            Anton Bruckner

Prelude, Nocturne and Chase                                                     Humphrey Searle

Suite du “Porgy and Bess”                                                  George Gershwin- Perkins

Prelude et Fugue                                                                                         J. S. Bach

Barbara Allen                                                                                    Kerry Turner

Myths and Legends                                                                                    Eric Ewazen

Sabre Dance                                                                                      Aram Khachaturian

Konzertstück                                                Robert Schumann

AHQ 2012 France Tour

February 11th, 2012 No comments

I would like to announce the next grand event of the American Horn Quartet- a one week tour of France. We will be presenting recitals and masterclasses at four different locations. The itinerary, including contact information of the organizers, looks something like this:

31.03. Mulhouse

Venue: Conservatoire de musique, danse et art dramatique

14:00-17:00 Masterclass. Attend the evening student concert.

01.04. Concert Mulhouse 17:00. (“Journée du cor 2012”)

Contact:

Virginie Maillard: maillard.vir@voila.fr

02.04. Luxembourg

05.04. Travel day – drive to Sainte Hermine.

06.04. Sainte Hermine

Concert: 20:30, Salle Polyvalente, Sainte Hermine (Festival des Veillées Musicales)

07.04. Cholet

14:00-17:00 Masterclass

08.04.

17:30 40-minute concert and then performance of Schumann Konzertstück with Brass Band

The Repertoire for this tour is as follows:

Ouverture “Le Nozze de Figaro” W. A. Mozart

Andante Anton Bruckner

Prelude, Nocturne and Chase Humphrey Searle

Suite du “Porgy and Bess” George Gershwin- Perkins

Prelude et Fugue J. S. Bach

Barbara Allen Kerry Turner

Myths and Legends Eric Ewazen

Sabre Dance Aram Khachaturian

Konzertstück Robert Schumann

Cortejo (a Passacaglia) for brass quintet

December 10th, 2011 No comments

Last May, the Luxembourg based brass quintet “The Ni Ensemble” began the process of procuring a commissioning grant from the Luxembourg Minister of Culture. Despite the fact that they frequently perform my “Ricochet” and “Casbah of Tetouan”, they wanted a new work from me, one which was specifically composed for their ensemble. Of course, the bureaucracy involved in this project was pretty daunting, and would promise to take a long time to complete. Nevertheless, the creation of this piece began slowly churning inside my head. I knew it was going to be a passacaglia, that is, a theme which is repeated over and over throughout the piece in a drone-like fashion. Months passed, and I reached a point at the end of August where the piece was truly ready to pour out onto the page. But I still had not yet heard from the Minister of Culture!

The passacaglia theme continued to drone in my head (I know it sounds melodramatic, but it was like that!), and I could wait no longer. So without knowing if I was indeed going to get paid for this commission, I began to compose. The long gestation period had served me well, perhaps a little too well. I had a thousand ideas! But like any great piece of music, there was only one way it should be. The incorporation into the piece of an old cowboy folksong, the text of which fit astoundingly well, and the arbitrary beginning and ending of the piece in the same key ( a sure fire way to determine if I was following the muse correctly), all convinced me that I had indeed chosen the right path for the work. A few weeks after completion, I received the letter stating that the commission had been granted.

The Ni Ensemble has since taken the new quintet on a short tour to Wales and presented the world premier. They also sat down in their accommodation space on that tour, and using our home video camera, recorded a read-through of “Cortejo”. And this is now available on YouTube (http://youtu.be/FCu6JIbs6Ks).

Here is the description of my new piece for brass quintet. I think it is pretty important for the understanding of the work.

The word “cortejo” means cortege or funeral procession in Spanish. A passacaglia is a musical form that originated in early seventeenth-century Spain and is still used by contemporary composers. It is usually of a serious character and is often, but not always, based on a bass-ostinato. It was however in contemplating the meaning of the word “passacaglia”- pasar (to walk) and calle (street), that the composer drew upon the idea to incorporate the old U.S. Western folksong “Cowboys Lament” or “As I walked out on the streets of Laredo.”

The story of this folksong is about a young and handsome cowboy in the old Texas-Mexican border town of Laredo, who after a night of wild living and drunkenness, gets shot in the chest, and wrapped in white linen, is paraded through the streets. The locals would have called it a “Cortejo” (pronounced korteho.)

The piece begins with a characteristically tragic passacaglia theme, which is heard in some shape or form almost throughout the entire work. The “Cowboys Lament” is subtly introduced in the stopped horn. The secondary theme arrives after the fourth repetition of the passacaglia theme, and is declamatory in nature. This sets the stage for the adventurous third section of the piece marked “allegro vivo.” At this point in the work, the listener may draw on his or her imagination to create the scenario, which leads to the cowboy’s death. The various themes and motives are woven together to create a sort of narrative, the climax of which is the dramatic and bitter cortege- cortejo.

“As I walked out on the streets of Laredo. As I walked out in Laredo one day, I spied a young cowboy, so young and so handsome, wrapped up in white linen and cold as the grave.” (first verse of “The Cowboy’s Lament”.)

“Cortejo” was commissioned by the Ni Ensemble, with a grant from the Ministry of Culture of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and was composed in September 2011.

Composition News- Good Things Going On!

September 25th, 2011 No comments

There has been a lot of activity on the composition front these past few months. I have received quite a few new commissions. And I have had some success with my orchestral tone poem, “Karankawa”. Let’s start with the latter.

“Karankawa” is an extremely atmospheric tone poem based on a true story involving the Karankawa Indians of South Texas and the first French settlers under LaSalle in 1685 (interestingly enough, the year J.S. Bach was born.) The piece lasts about 9 minutes, and is scored for a traditional size orchestra, say, the same instrumentation as “Till Eulenspiegel”. Although the original version is for symphony orchestra, we have arranged a version for large wind ensemble. And I think it will work well for that instrumentation. The “World Premier” I suppose was the recording of the work by the Sinfonia Iuventus in Warsaw. This is a dynamite young orchestra which played the piece with spectacular enthusiasm and gusto. The CD on which the piece can be heard is called “Karankawa” and is available on the Albany Records label (www.albanyrecords.com, Troy 1141.)

The Luxembourg Philharmonic played “Karankawa” three times back last March. And it was really a huge success. So much so, that some scouts from the neighboring orchestra in Germany, The Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in Saarbrücken, took back the idea to their administration, and now the piece will be played again, this time in Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken, on May 31st through June 3rd, 2012. But there still has not yet been a premier of the wind ensemble version. So anyone interested?

Other news, last May, I completed a commission for a new major work for horn choir. This was a commission by Mr. Kenichi Shimizu and the “TAMA Katatsumuri no Kai”. The work is called “The Season”, and is comprised of four movements, you guessed it, Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. The World Premier is set for May, 2014.

Mr. Kenichi, along with the horn ensemble “aHorn” had also commissioned me for another work, this time for horn octet. This piece is called “Hymnus”, and is intended to be performed at the Aichi Festival this Fall. “Hymnus” is about 7 minutes long.

The Ni Ensemble, a brass quintet based in Luxembourg, has commissioned me to write a piece for their award winning ensemble. They will be taking the piece on tour to the United Kingdom this coming November. I just completed the work last night (September 24). It is called “Cortejo” and it’s a passacaglia. “Cortejo” is a Spanish word for cortege, or funeral procession. The idea was inspired by the old American Western folksong, “The Cowboys Lament” (“When I walked out on the streets on laredo…”.) The haunting and relentless passacaglia theme runs throughout the whole piece, develops into an energetic and adventurous allegro section and eventually climaxes with a direct quote from the famous Western folksong.

There are three more commissions awaiting my attention. The first is a piece for percussion duo, which is being commissioned and performed by Chris Hastings and Michel Mootz, who call themselves the “Transadlibit Percussion Duo”. The work will probably be about Sago Lane in Singapore, otherwise known as “Street of the Dead” in China Town. I know, all of these macabre themes, right?

The next commission is for clarinet, horn and piano. It will be a joint commission by Renée Menkhaus and her group, and Mr. Greg Danner at Tennessee Tech. I will supply more information about this work and these two artists who have commissioned in a later blog.

But certainly the big news is my Concerto for Horn, which has been commissioned by Karl Pituch and the Detroit Symphony. It is scheduled to be performed in the Spring of 2013 with Maestro Leonard Slatkin on the podium. Karl is the principal horn in this distinguished orchestra, and he will of course, be giving the World Premier.

I have a good number of very recent works which I have not had the time to promote. I am looking for a publisher for these, and I am looking into recording them on CD, so that people around the world will have access to them. They are without a doubt, some of my finest work:

The Scorpion in the Sand- horn, cello and piano
The Ballad of Annabel Lee- trumpet, voice and piano
The Navajo Mandala- combined woodwind and brass quintets
Waltzing Matilda- horn quartet, with 2 off stage horns
Improvisation- a relatively older work for brass quintet
And, of course, the new pieces mentioned in this blog.

So I had better get out the old pencil, pencil sharpener, straight edge, manuscript paper and eraser and get to work!

AHQ Nachrichten

September 4th, 2011 No comments

Das American Hornquartett wird am 12.9., beim Eröffungskonzert der Norddeutschen Horntage in Wolfenbüttel auftreten. Auf dem Programm sind Werke von Telemann, Bizet, Bernstein, Turner, Manzini und Shaw. Das Konzert findet in der Landesmusikakademie Niedersachsen, Wolfenbüttel, um 19:30 statt. Um weitere Informationen zu erfahren, klicken Sie auf: norddeutsche-horntage.de.

Eine Tournee durch Frankreich ist geplannt, und zwar vom 31. 3 bis 8.4.2012. Die komplizierte Organisation einer grossen Tournee durch den Vereinigten Staaten ist ebenfalls unterwegs. Die wird von der letzten Woche März bis zur 2. Woche April, 2013 stattfinden. Weitere Auftritte sind noch in Diskussion: Lieksa Brass Festival, Jeju Brass Festival, und ein Auftritt mit dem Luxemburger Kammerorchester.

Americsn Horn Quartet News

September 4th, 2011 No comments

The AHQ will be performing the opening concert at the North German Horn Symposium in Wolfenbüttel, which just happens to be the city where they produce Jägermeister. The concert will begin at 7:30 PM and will take place at the Music Academy of Lower Saxony on September 12th. The program is as follows:

Concerto for 4 Horns Telemann
Carmen Suite Bizet (Turner)
West Side Story Suite Bernstein (Perkins)

Waltzing Matilda Turner
Quartet Nr. 1 Turner
Moon River Mancini (Turner)
Fripperies 19 and 6 Shaw

For more information, tickets, etc., see this website: norddeutsche-horntage.de.

The AHQ will be on tour in France between March 31st and April 8th, 2012. There is also a large USA tour in the planning for the last week of March till the 2nd week of April, 2013. The world famous horn quartet is also presently in negotiations with the music festivals in Lieksa, Finland and Jeju, Korea, as well as a performance with the Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra in 2012.

My New Work for Large Horn Ensemble is Completed

May 10th, 2011 No comments

I am happy to report that I have completed my latest commissioned work for large horn ensemble. The four movement work is entitled “The Seasons” and the movements are, obviously Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. Mr. Kenichi Shimizu, who conducts the “TAMA Katatsumuri no kai” horn ensemble in Japan contacted me a couple of years ago about the possibility of commissioning a large, multi-movement work, which would be for three separate horn ensembles of different levels: professional level, advanced student or amateur level, and beginner or “easy” level, and percussion. The deadline was set for May 8, 2011, and my copyist, Mr. Geoffrey Winter and I did indeed deliver on time. This is what I have written about the work, which will appear in the score liner notes:

“It has been the desire of the composer for quite some time to write a work based on the four seasons. In Mr. Turner’s home in Luxembourg in Central Europe, three of the seasons are extremely pronounced. Spring, in all it’s verdant glory, is an uncommon relief after the bitter and snowy Winters. And in the Autumn, the trees burst with radiant colors of red, yellow, green and brown before the great multitude of leaves literally rain down from the trees. Mr. Turner traditionally spends his Summers abroad, either in New York City, Italy or Spain. During his holiday in these places, he can enjoy the heat of the Summer, the relaxing, lazy days, as well as the exotic feel that comes with traveling there.

The first movement is “Autumn”. From the first measure, the beautiful colors of Autumn splash onto the page. The main theme is melancholy and wistful. The second section of this movement, represents the excitement and positive mood of either returning back to school, or back to the job after a long vacation. This is followed by the dance of the leaves in the wind. As the late Autumn arrives, it is time for the millions of leaves to fall, drifting to the ground, until the trees stand bare and melancholy.

“Winter” opens with the sound of sleigh bells. The main theme of this movement is in the style of “Troika”. It is cold, rainy and grey. When the snow begins to fall, it falls in thick, wet blankets and piles high up on the ground. At last, when the snowfall has ceased, the scene outside is at once dreary and beautiful. Everything is white, except maybe the faint glow of a street lamp.

“Spring” opens with the sound of rain drops, at first light and then, growing louder, it turns into a real Spring rainfall with distant thunder. The melody is, however, youthful and full of hope. Following this, the listener witnesses the spectacular blooming of thousands of flowers, grasses and leaves. This section climaxes in a burst of color and life.

For the composer, “Summer” has always remained his favorite season. Not only the Summer heat, but the reunion with family members as well the exotic travel have always held a very special place in his heart. Trying to represent all of these elements and emotions in a horn ensemble piece proved to be difficult. Mr. Turner was composing this work in the heart of Winter, and the joy of Summer was really nothing more than a memory. In contemplating this, and given the fact that the work was commissioned by the honorable Japanese Horn Ensemble TAMA Katatsumuri no Kai, it seemed logical to use the famous Japanese folksong “Natsu no Omoide” or “Summer Memories” as the principal theme.

This work was conceived and created to be played by a large horn ensemble comprised of three choirs of different levels of difficulty:

Choir 1- Advanced level, to be played by 4 to 8 players.
Choir 2- Intermediate level, to be played by 4 to 8 players.
Choir 3- Easy level, to be played by 4 to 16 players. ”

A publisher for this major work for horn choir has not yet been determined. The “TAMA Katatsumuri no kai” retains rights to the work until May 2013. For those of you who may be interested in a similar large scale work for horn ensemble, please check out my work for three antiphonal horn quartets and percussion called “Bronze Triptych”. This work was commissioned by the horn section of the Dallas Symphony and is featured on the “Texas Horns” CD (Crystal Records CD774), a CD recorded by the combined sections of the Dallas and Houston horn sections. The work is published by Patti’s Prints, a link for which can be found on the AHQ website, www.hornquartet.com.

Virtuoso Horn Duo at BrassExplosion Singapore 2011

April 30th, 2011 No comments

On May 27th at 8 pm, Kristina Mascher and I- The Virtuoso Horn Duo- along with our pianist, Lauretta Bloomer will be participating in the opening recital of the 2011 BrassExplosion Festival in Singapore. Our portion of the program will include my “Twas a Dark and Stormy Night”, Introduction and Rondeau by Kalliwoda, and other pieces by Walter Perkins and Antonio Vivaldi. The following 2 days will see each of us presenting masterclasses at the Nanyang Academy of Performing Arts, the principal venue of this fantastic festival. Please click on this link: www.brasssociety.com to see all of the other events at Brassexplosion 2011.