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IHS 33 Kalamazoo

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2001 IHS Symposium, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Current Kalamazoo weather

Bruce and John
Johnny Pherigo and staff at Western Michigan University in charge of the 33rd Annual International Horn Society Workshop made sure attendees were well informed prior to the event. An information packet was mailed out in advance of the conference which included the participant's confirmation of registration and a map of the campus with instructions from all four directions.

Every effort was made to provide clear directions to the campus and to the buildings involved in the workshop. I had no difficulty finding the correct building, meeting a couple of old friends along the way. There was a minimum of fuss registering and obtaining room assignments.

Bruce Kelley, a fellow attendee from at least three previous workshops, joined me as we investigated the concert venue and searched out the display area looking for Catherine Roche-Wallace who was working at the UMI tables.

Along the way we found the IVASI setup with Jim Decker. Jim's wife always has a smile for me since I look so much like her son-in-law. She calls me Mark. Along the way a couple of other people greeted me, Johnny Woody from Yamaha, Peter Samuelson with Paxman, Tom and Suzie Greer of Moosewood, Hornist's Nest's Lowell Shaw, Jim Emerson, Ken Pope, Johannes Finke, Larry Ramirez from Holton, and a few others. Bruce commented, "You know everybody!" That's just what happens when you keep coming back to these things.

Eventually we found the rest of the people we intended to meet, John Baumgart, Leigh Alexander and Karl Kemm. We snatched Catherine away from the UMI people at closing and returned to her downtown hotel for drinks and supper joined by UMI's head brass guy, Fred Powell.

We returned to the Dalton Center at the university for the opening concert at 8 PM. The evening began with opening remarks by our host Johnny Pherigo and greetings from the university president. We were entertained with music by Eric Ewazen for 8 horns, 5 brass, 5 winds and large brass and percussion ensemble.

Most accomodations consisted of two small rooms with shared shower and toilet facilities down the hall. Not luxurious by any means, but relatively clean and comfortable. There never seemed to be a crowd at the showers whether I went in the evening or in the morning. I must have a different schedule than everyone else.

There was never much of a lineup for meals either. Typical cafeteria food. Anyone who attended the Banff Summit in 1998 had been spoiled. The only time we ate like that was at the banquet. Rookies were aghast to hear that every meal in Banff was like the banquet, with gourmet food and servers in clean white shirts and black ties.

Unfortunately, many of the master classes and lectures were not recorded. Tuesday morning's panel discussion entitled "How To Have a Day Job And Still Be A Horn Player" fell into this catergory. The small lecture room was filled almost to capacity for the unscripted talk. I did get permission from the participants before recording the session on MiniDisc. Moderated by Marilyn Bone-Kloss, Michael Houle, Jeanne Traphagan and I spoke about our horn playing aspirations while pursuing other careers.

Recordings of this year's performances were made available on CD. The early concerts and recitals could be purchased within a couple of days, though the last two days had to be mailed later. Again, the preparation was done ahead of time and there was only one concert not available due to release restrictions and that was by the Boston Brass who had CD's for sale after their performance and at the UMI exhibit.

You can buy stuff to bring home with you. I went with the intention of buying a new horn and that's exactly what I did. There is never a better time to try out all the models available than at a workshop. All the big names were there, UMI (Conn and King), Paxman, Alexander, Yamaha, Hans Hoyer and my old friends from Holton/Leblanc. Ethel Merker and Larry Ramirez are stalwarts of these workshops and both are very easy to talk to.

I planned to buy the new Holton H176 which is last year's Merker Millenium. Tuesday morning I went to the big exhibitor's room and meet with Ethel Merker who gives me a warm hello and asks "What do you mean, bring a good one?!" I had sent her an email telling her I intended to buy a Red Brass Merker (H176) and to pick me out a good one. Of course, they're all good ones.

I chose the H176 over the MM since the MM wasn't available with a detachable bell. Or so I thought! When I commented about he lack of a detached bell Millenium, both Ethel and Regional Manager Denny Biviano, who was also manning the exhibit, said they could get me one if I wanted it. The horn was brought in from a store in Ohio by the end of the week and it checked out so I bought it.

Some marvelous things happened in that room, like Arkady Shilkloper's impromptu jam session on the carbon-fibre Swiss alphorns. For the most part though, people were testing the limits of the horns on display and their own chops. It's a tremendous sound when fifty or sixty horn players are trying to outplay each other on the long call or Till or any one of a dozen other high, loud exerpts. Every gimmick and gadget as well as necessary accessories was available for trial and purchase. Mouthpieces, mutes, resistance devices, anti-pressure devices, oils greases and goos could be had at the best price in town. Retailers included Osmun's, Rayburn Music and Woodwind and Brasswind.

The small room next door held a few more vendors with instruments and accessories. Ken Pope, Brass Arts and International Musical Suppliers had wares. Upstairs was Spike with all the Fripperies and other ipperies, Rick Seraphinoff, R.M. Williams Publishing, Wind Music, Emerson Editions, Baltimore Horn Club and a few others. It was only on the last day that we found another sheet music vendor all alone on the third floor.

Back on the main floor, down by the practice rooms was the IVASI System. This is a very popular place where you can sit down and play orchestral works with a video conductor and recorded orchestra. Jim Decker has put this system together for horn studios at universities. Up to eight horns can sit down and play large works like Wagner's "Walkure" and "Siegfried" with the Long Call. These parts are in E, not Eb. All parts are the original orchestral publications.

At the workshops, now that the system is being transferred to DVD, you'll have Jim in the back at the computer shouting "I heard a clam! Start again!" as he halts the program and goes back to the rehearsal letter you just passed. He has a great time with this, and he enjoys playing with the multitude of young players who pass through the exhibit. He also has the arrangements for all the music performed by the L.A. Horn Club.

There were as many as three horn choir performances every day at the campus mall and at outdoor locations. Morning warm-ups every day, followed by a choice between a lecture or a master class, then a recital, lunch, lecture or master class, another recital, supper and an evening concert. We were treated each evening by an exerpt from the London Horn Sound performed by the Contributing Artists Horn Ensemble.

Aside from being able to try every horn in the big room there were other opportunities to play. There were guided warm-ups every morning, led by a number of contributing artists. Three mass horn choirs were organised for the closing concert. And various impromtu after hours reading sessions in whatever corner of the dorms and in the practise rooms. The dorms had a 11:00PM -7:00AM quiet hour policy so some gatherings were cut short.

More photos can be found at Bruce Kelley's site.

Catherine and John


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