Good Vibrations in Switzerland!

Posted By on July 9, 2007

High up above the beautiful Swiss city of Lugano, 38 horn players wailed away morning, noon and night. At just about any given minute between 8 AM and 10 PM, one could hear Strauss and Mozart concertos, various etudes and orchestral excerpts as well as different pieces from my own hand wafting down from the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana. It was the 5th Lugano Horn Workshop and was hosted by David Johnson of the American Horn Quartet. Geoffery Winter, Charles Putnam and I were teachers and performers at the event, and we were joined by the artistry of Sandro Ceccarelli and Andreas Kamber. The workshop was a very international one, the participants coming from places such as Hong Kong, Moscow, Serbia, Portugal, the USA, Guam, Austria, Poland, Germany and of course, Switzerland and Italy. The age difference was remarkable as well; several participants were around 15 and 16 years old and there were also those who were more mature- over 50. The majority however were university age.

Each morning there was a warm-up session lead by one of the teachers. Then each teacher went to his own room where students could then go from one to the other and have “group lessons”. Typically, I would have about 4 students in the room and I would work about 20 minutes with each one. There was also a great deal of ensemble playing, which was coached by the teachers. In fact, there were two recital evenings where only groups- quartets, sextets and octets- performed. The entire group, some 32 or more, performed in the Piaza San Carlo on the last day of the workshop.

The AHQ presented a recital at Frainklin College in Lugano. By pure coincidence, this recital took place on the 4th of July. As an encore surprise for this occasion, the AHQ played Geof Winter‘s arrangement of Sousa‘s “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. The AHQ also churned out the Schumann Konzertstück several times with the Conservatory Orchestra, and I have to say, that orchestra sounded quite good! It was one of the finest renditions of that dastardly difficult bit in the first violins and flutes in the last movement that we have ever heard. Hats off! One of the highlights of the week was our performance at the Grand Hotel Villa D‘Este in Como.

One thing however must be said about this year‘s participants: it was a party group! These guys had fun and seemed to get along swimmingly. Several evenings the party ended up on Geof and Sherry‘s balcony and seemed to last all night.

Despite the many languages present, most everybody found some way or another to communicate. I spoke a lot if Italian, German and English all week and there were many other polyglots present who volunteered their services in simutaneous translation. All in all, a good time was had by everybody. I think that many of the patiicipants headed on to the IHS International Workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds which is actually in full swing even as I write this blog. Some of them were continuing on to Prague and Nova Straseci after that. And you know what? All power to them. But that‘s a lot of horn for 3 weeks!

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