As a leading French horn player and Wagner tuba enthusiast, Molly Norcross (Associate Principal Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra) was due to perform an exhilarating season of music with the CSO and participate in many other events during 2020. Amongst these was the annual Mid-South Horn Workshop where she was to perform on solo Wagner tuba. See our News item from March ‘Bringing the Wagner tuba into the spotlight‘. Alas, due to the global pandemic, that and all other performances have been postponed until further notice.
So, what has a professional horn player of this calibre been doing with so much free time? We caught up with Molly recently to discover what life has been like in lockdown. She kindly gave us this exclusive insight ….
A Horn Player In Lockdown – Molly Norcross
“My experience as a musician in lockdown has been similar to many, I’m sure. We all miss getting to make music with our colleagues, we miss our performance spaces and we miss our audiences.
We are also people who have spent our lives and careers developing our capacity for creativity, problem-solving, attention to detail, planning, patience, and determination. For myself, I’ve found that having little projects has been key to maintaining motivation and feeling like I am contributing to the community and the world in a meaningful way.
So far, I have enjoyed participating in three videos, all very different from one another, yet all seeking to help both the general community and students/fans of horn music.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
One of my favorite projects was making a short music video for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
I got to test my arranging skills on ‘Let It Go‘ (from the Disney movie ‘Frozen’) as well as explore the capabilities of Audacity audio software.
I also made use of a very bold color choice in my childhood bedroom as a green screen for portions of my video!
New Hampshire Music Festival
Following that, I made a short video ahead of the New Hampshire Music Festival that I’ve been a part of for some time. (Molly is the principal horn of the NHMF). The idea behind the video was to stay connected with the Festival’s patrons and donors, emphasising the importance of correct hand washing. “Be a HERO” was the theme. To echo this and also demonstrate how long the hand washing process should ideally be, I decided that 16 bars of “Ein Heldenleben” (A Hero’s Life) by Richard Strauss was the perfect musical accompaniment! So, I multi-tracked myself playing it on French horn.
I must admit to having a little fun in it all as I included a shot of the family dog, Apollo, as well as myself playing a conch shell instead of a horn! They only flash up for half a second in the big chords, but if you watch the video closely, you’ll see “one of these things is not like the others” in one of the panels!
Online Horn Masterclass
In May I accepted an invitation to do a live, online Horn Masterclass with Mark Jansen. Mark is a freelancer and horn teacher in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, so I got to know him a bit during my time in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He’s been really on the ball, producing interviews and masterclasses to keep his students inspired.
Before listening to the two horn students that Mark had lined up for me, we discussed a variety of subjects. Included in the subjects: my years as a horn student, my time at tutors at The Juilliard School and how I progressed to being a professional orchestral player.
In the video clip that follows, Mark asks me about my routine elements that I begin each day with and the importance of exercise and fitness. I do running, cycling, lifting weights and even take boxing classes! I feel like physical activity is such a great tool for overall well-being.
While I am cautiously optimistic about the return of a level of normalcy to my work as an orchestral musician, I plan to continue looking for opportunities for projects, and pushing my abilities as a creator on and off the stage.”