Revival of the Perkins Concerto for Four Horns (AHQ)

Posted By on June 29, 2008

There is a frenzy of AHQ activity on the horizon. I will soon be meeting up with those curious lads at the IHS International Horn Symposium in Denver. We will be performing my work for horn quartet and orchestra (version for wind band) entitled “Introduction and Main Event”. The AHQ will be guest soloists with the Hong Kong Academy of Music Wind Symphony with Mr. Joe Kirtley conducting. Immediately following this event, we are all flying down to Daytona Beach for the 2nd Annual AHQ Summer Horn Workshop which will take place from July 28 to August 3rd (see for details). Then on August 11th, we once again board the plane and fly to South Korea and then on to Jeju Island for the Jeju Music Festival.

Now in Florida and in South Korea, we will be performing recitals. And on the programs of these concerts we have scheduled the Concerto for Four Horns by Walter Perkins. Many of you may indeed remember our performances of this spectacular and extremely difficult work back in the early 90`s. Walt was a colleague of mine here in the Luxembourg Philharmonic. He is a trumpet player. He became fascinated with the AHQ back in the late 80`s and offered to arrange music from his favorite musical West Side Story for the group. Of course, this arrangement and our performances of it became legendary. Indeed, the work practically became the calling card of the American Horn Quartet. Walt had expressed the commonly heard opinion that one could not always tell who was playing which part at which time in our quartet. Thus he thought it might be an interesting idea to compose a work which would feature each player as a soloist. The two of us collaborated quite closely during his work on this piece. He checked with me on just about every tricky passage, and catered each part to the individual player. The end result is a 5-movement work of compositional maturity, creative depth with a myriad of colors and character. It is pretty difficult however! There is constant mixed meter and finger twisting technical passages which render the work quite challenging to put together.

Interestingly enough, we are playing the work better than we ever did, the last performance having been played back in the mid-nineties sometime. The one or two rehearsals we have had on the piece have revealed an eminently approachable and fantastic addition to the horn quartet repertoire. I do hope that horn players around the world will have the opportunity to hear the AHQ in a dazzling performance of this rarely played , challenging yet thoroughly enjoyable work!

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