WMU News

French horn festival offers week-long entertainment

May 31, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University will be the site June 4-9 of the International Horn Society's annual convention, the largest gathering of French horn players in the world.

The 33rd International Horn Symposium will attract leading French horn players from around the world for a series of workshops and performances taking place on the WMU campus with several open to the public and free of charge. Other performances also will be offered for the public at Kraftbrau Brewery. In addition to featured artists, several supporting ensembles also will take part in the event, including three from WMU.

The international horn workshops or symposia are held annually and feature five to six days of performances, master classes, lectures, exhibits and socializing by roughly 500 to 600 horn players and enthusiasts from across the globe. Participants include students of all ages, secondary school and university teachers, professional symphony players, dedicated amateurs, and vendors of horns, music, recordings and other horn-related merchandise.

This is the first time the international horn symposium has been held at WMU and the first time it has been in Michigan since 1977, when Michigan State University was host of the event. The first international horn symposium was held at Florida State University in 1969. Last year's symposium was in Beijing, while next year's event will be in Finland.

"It's terrific to be able to bring this event here," says Dr. Johnny Pherigo, a WMU professor of music and the event's host and musical director. "A lot of people in the organization not only are colleagues, but they become good friends. And it's a tremendous opportunity for our students to get to know many of these artists. They not only get to meet them, but in many cases get to know them well."

Since artists stay on campus and eat their meals there, it's not unusual for a student to sit down to lunch with the principal horn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Pherigo says.

Featured artists at the symposium include Javier Bonet of Spain; members of the brass quintet Boston Brass; John Clark, a New York jazz horn player; Eric Ewazen, composer in residence at the Juilliard School; Michel Garcin-Marrou of France; David Jolley, a New York free-lance horn player; Sibylle Mahni of the Frankfurt Opera Orchestra; Karl Pituch, principal horn for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Donna Dolson Roath of the Century Orchestra of Osaka, Japan; Arkady Shilkloper of Russia, James Sommerville, principal horn for the Boston Symphony; and Szabolcs Zempleni of Hungary.

All of the artists are accomplished players in their own right, Pherigo says. Some of the bigger names, however, are Shilkloper and Zempleni. Shilkloper is a leading avant-garde jazz artist who plays flugelhorn, alphorn and other wind instruments in addition to French horn, and has played with the likes of Lionell Hampton and Herb Ellis. At only 20 years old, Zempleni, has been singled out as a "wunderkind" horn player who is taking the horn world by storm. His father is the principal horn with the Hungarian State Orchestra, while his mother is first oboist in the Hungarian Opera.

Pherigo says it was a coup to be able to bring Sommerville, the winner of many major prizes and a perennial performer with many leading orchestras, to the symposium as well.

Supporting ensembles include Fontana Festival musicians, the Liege Horn Quartet, members of the Lyra Concert Baroque Orchestra, the Western Brass Quintet, Western Jazz Quartet and Western Wind Quintet.

A special feature of this year's symposium is an emphasis on horn and chamber music, Pherigo says, which builds off his own interest in the genre. A highlight in that regard will be a performance by Pituch, an active chamber musician, who will premiere a piece by WMU professor of music Dr. Curtis Curtis-Smith with Fontana Festival musicians on Tuesday, June 5. Though that performance is not open to the public, it will be previewed for the public at 8 p.m. Monday, June 4 in the Wellspring Theatre in the Epic Center.

Most events are open only to registered participants in the workshop. Performances on the WMU campus that are open to the public free of charge include:

Tuesday, June 5

10-10:30 a.m.: Kentucky Horn Club, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Noon-12:45 p.m.: University of Iowa Horn Ensemble, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Noon-12:45 p.m.: University of North Texas Horn Ensemble, Dunbar/Friedmann Amphitheater

2:30-3 p.m.: CCM "Esprit de Cor" Horn Ensemble, Dunbar/Friedmann Amphitheater

2:30-3 p.m.: Southern Methodist University Horn Ensemble, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Wednesday, June 6

12:00-12:45 p.m.: University of Wisconsin Horn Ensemble, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

12:00-12:45 p.m.: Interlochen Horn Ensemble, Dunbar/Friedmann Amphitheater

2:30-3:00 p.m.: Central Michigan University Horn Ensemble, Dunbar/Friedmann Amphitheater

2:30-3:00 p.m.: University of Louisiana Horn Quartet, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Thursday, June 7

Noon-12:45 p.m.: West Virginia University Horn Ensemble, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Noon-12:45 p.m.: Conservatoire Superieur de Lyon Horn Ensemble, Dunbar/Friedmann Amphitheater

2:30-3p.m.: University of Michigan Horn Quartet, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Friday, June 8

Noon-12:45 p.m.: Penn State University Horn Ensemble, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Noon-12:45 p.m.: Central Washington State University Horn Ensemble, Dunbar/Friedmann Amphitheater

2:30-3 p.m.: Columbus Horn Group, Dunbar/Friedmann Amphitheater

2:30-3 p.m.: University of South Dakota Horn Ensemble, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Saturday, June 9

Noon-12:45 p.m.: Lawrence University Horn Ensemble, Bronco Mall, Bernhard Center

Noon-12:45 p.m.: University of Western Ontario Horn Ensemble, Dunbar/Friedmann Amphitheater

2:30-3 p.m.: Symposium Alphorns performance, Fountain Plaza, Miller Auditorium

In addition, Kraftbrau Brewery at 402 E. Kalamazoo Ave. will have jazz horn performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, June 7-9, starting at 10:30 pm. The artists will include the jazz horn sensations Clark (Friday) and Shilkloper (Saturday) with the Roger Shew Trio.

For more information, visit the symposium's Web site at <www.wmich.edu/horn/ihs2001> or call Pherigo at (616) 387-4692.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu


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