So much has happened in the world since our last News item in the Spring of 2020. As the world began its campaign to overcome a historic pandemic, many things started to change, and in ways that few expected. Like so many other aspects of human life, the world of music has found itself struggling to have any semblance of its former normal identity.
Everyone with a keen interest in music has been affected in some way:
- music students and teachers have seen their colleges, conservatories and universities closed
- amateur players have not been able to play in their usual bands, recitals and orchestras
- professional musicians, from soloists to chamber music/orchestral players have lost their livelihoods
- concert-goers have not entered a music venue for months and sit wondering when they will do so again
The Lonesome Horn Players Of 2020
There is no doubt that the physical isolation of lockdown has presented the greatest challenge for many people in recent months. For musicians, receiving appreciation from an audience and playing alongside other musicians are core elements of their everyday life.
With the emphasis of our interest being brass instruments, and in particular the Wagner tuba and French horn, it has been interesting to discover just how many players have been determined to maintain some level of performance and also share it publicly.
Many horn players have taken to YouTube and other social media to find an audience. Some have recorded solo performances on their smartphone, often multi-tracking themselves and staged from their bedroom, study or living room. Others have found a way to join in co-ordinated podcasting with other musicians, thus presenting a group performance or a general discussion exchanging their experiences as horn players.
Here are two great examples of solo hornists who are also accomplished and enthusiastic Wagner tuba players, using the multi-tracking approach:
‘Mission Impossible’ – Horn Octet (4 French Horns, 4 Wagner tuba) – Simon Scheiwiller
A great arrangement played expertly on a beautiful vintage Wagner tuba ….
Another great arrangement this time for French horn – but note the Wagner tuba sitting in the corner of the room!
As these videos show, horn and Wagner tuba players have been keeping music not just ‘live’ but very much ALIVE. Interesting arrangements and a capacity for understanding what works on French horn and Wagner tuba make videos like these stand out. Hopefully music lovers from all over the world will gravitate to this new way of appreciating musical performance.
French Horn & Wagner Tuba Player Interviews
In the light of the tremendous enthusiasm and determination being demonstrated by horn players at this time, we think it might be of interest and help to the brass community as a whole to hear first-hand what life has been like for individual players between the Spring and Summer of 2020. Shortly we will be publishing a series of special features featuring individual horn and Wagner tuba players who have kindly granted us permission to share their experiences of coping with musical isolation in lockdown.
The first interview to be published later this month is an exciting one! It is with no less than the Associate Principal Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (and Wagner tuba enthusiast), Molly Norcross. So look out for that!
In the meantime, here’s something to help raise the spirits. The title of this post ‘On The Trail Of The Lonesome Horn’ was inspired by the iconic Laurel and Hardy performance of ‘On The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine’ from their movie ‘Way Out West‘ (1937). That performance has a magic which never fails to raise a smile with anyone who hears it. However, a smile doesn’t always come easily in times of difficulty, so here is a rendition of the song, recorded prior to lockdown by the Laurel and Hardy Forum. Included in the ‘cast of singers’ is Stan Laurel’s great, grand-daughter. Enjoy!