Tell us about your background. Where are you from? How did you get into music? Where and how did you train?
I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. My school’s band program started in fifth grade, and I chose the trumpet because my dad used to play it back when he was a kid, and I wanted to be like him! Right before I started high school, my family moved to Louisville, Kentucky. It was there at the age of 14 that I first picked up the horn, in part because there was a girl in the horn section of whom I was particularly fond at the time! I played in the Louisville Youth Orchestra, and by the end of my junior year I knew I wanted to try play the horn professionally. I studied Horn Performance under Professor D. Bruce Heim at the University of Louisville and earned Bachelor’s Degree in Music. In the years since, I have received additional training as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the New World Symphony in Miami Beach.
How many years have you been coming to LAMF? What keeps you coming back?
2015 will be my third year at LAMF. The opportunity to play great music with tremendous colleagues for the best audiences you’ll find anywhere certainly keeps me coming back! I always look forward to spending time out on the lakes, in part because it reminds me of summers growing up in New Hampshire.
In your off-season, you started a new job. Tell us more!
In May of this year, I began work as Corno Solista (Principal Horn) of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago in Chile. As a member of this orchestra, I get to perform concerts of symphonic music in addition to many operas and ballets. All the shows take place in the beautiful Teatro Municipal, which is actually a national landmark! The musicians of the orchestra are about 50% Chileans, 50% foreigners (“extranjeros”), and it’s such a treat to play with musicians from all across the globe. The orchestra typically holds auditions in Santiago, but I was fortunate that in February, they held them in Miami Beach, right across the street from where I was working at the New World Symphony. The audition itself was a bit unusual in that I was only asked to play one “round,” which consisted of part of a Mozart concerto and five excerpts from the symphonic and operatic repertoire. The audition committee consisted solely of the Music Director, Resident Conductor, and Concertmaster, and there was no “screen,” meaning I could see the committee and they could see me. It felt much more like a performance than a standard audition, which might explain why I was successful!
What are some of your favorite pieces to play? Favorite composers?
As a horn player, I love to play the music of Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss, so it was very exciting that my first symphonic concert in Chile featured Four Last Songs, “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome, and the suite from Der Rosenkavalier, all by Strauss! I have a great love and admiration for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. I also really enjoy the music of many Russian composers, such as Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky, and my all-time favorite piece is Stravinsky’s Petrouchka.
I’ve never understood the high horn/low horn thing. Could you explain that? What do you prefer?
Okay, here’s the deal with the high horn/ low horn thing: Back in the 18th and early 19th centuries, when horns didn’t have valves, players would specialize their technique to excel as either high or low players, and they would often travel in pairs and accept gigs as a sort of two-man team. Composers of the day were aware of this, so when they wrote for four horns they would keep the pairs intact, alternating parts one through four as high, low, high, low. This practice became tradition, so now modern composers typically write the horn parts in that same configuration. Nowadays, our modern instruments allow players to attain mastery over the full range of the instrument, so the degree of specialization has been greatly diminished. There are still great low players and great high players, but even high players are expected to have a good low range, and vice versa. My first full-time job playing job was as Fourth Horn of the Louisville Orchestra, a low part, but now I play mostly Principal Horn, a high part.
What extra-musical activities do you enjoy?
These days, a lot of my energy is going towards learning Spanish! Beyond that, I enjoy running, rock climbing, playing sports, exploring the city with my adorable dog, Zada, learning to salsa dance, and watching/reading/talking about Game of Thrones.
Why music? What do you think makes classical music valuable in today’s world?
I love music because it can be intensely personal, yet somehow simultaneously universal. Music is ubiquitous in most of our lives. We hear it at the grocery store, on television commercials, and in restaurants. We listen to it in our cars and on our computers and our smartphones. If you’re like me, you sing in the shower and hum tunes as you go about your day. Classical music is about taking this art form that exists, which we all experience, and raising it to its highest possible level. How can we create the greatest emotional impact? How can we hone our technique to achieve the maximum range of expression? How can we meld what we’re doing with 1, 5, 20, 100 other musicians to yield a result greater than the sum of its parts? To me, classical music says things that are otherwise inexpressible about what it means to be human, and I think there will always be a place for it in our world.