Today our warm-ups were led by Kathy Mehrtens who is a member of the faculty at The College of New Jersey. Her warm-ups are based on warm-ups by Arnold Jacobs and Randy Gardner. The warm-up starts out on middle C, goes up to D, back to C, then down to B, back to C, then up to E, G, B and C, all slurred whole notes. The pattern is reversed going back down and done in all keys. Kathy wrote out the warm-ups in all the keys (thank you Kathy!) so it was easy for me to play them. Yes, I know I have to fix this problem of mine and I’ve now got assignments from my horn teacher to memorize two scales for every lesson. Kathy also included warm downs in the harmonic minor keys.
We went from the warm-ups to our final horn choir rehearsal. We did run throughs of the Cantos IV and Hansel und Gretel and spent some time on the Fanfare from La Peri which, in my opinion, needed quite a bit of work. Up until this rehearsal I was playing 2nd horn in the 2nd choir of the Cantos work. As we started the dress rehearsal we realized that the fellow on 3rd horn, 2nd choir, was ill and didn’t come to the rehearsal. Kathy Mehrtens jumped in to play 3rd and, since there were three of us on 2nd, I moved over to play 3rd as well. I was a little concerned sight reading a part at the dress rehearsal but it really went okay. Kathy kept telling me I was doing great which was very encouraging. It was a very rewarding feeling as I realized that my sight reading has improved dramatically since I first started in the community band back in January.
After lunch six of the attendees performed recitals. Three people performed works that they also played for Barry’s master class. One of the young students, a really, really good high school student, played the Adagio movement from the Kurt Attenberg Concerto in A Minor from memory. Towards the end she lost her place and all of us held our collective breath. Fortunately she watched the pianist, Tomoko Kanamaru, who gave her a great cue, and she recovered. If this had to happen, it couldn’t have happened at a better place with a very understanding audience. Although the recital was open to the public, the ‘public’ was basically parents, spouses and friends of the attendees.
Our final quartet rehearsal was next. By this rehearsal I had the Debussey down pretty well (Bob Lauver may disagree with that statement) but the Riggins March was still causing me fits. Fortunately, since the Riggins work was a trio, Bob was doubling my part. On top of that, my chops were essentially trashed by this time. By the end of the rehearsal I felt like I would survive the concert but I would have liked a lot more rehearsal time.
The last event at BTI was the final concert also open to the public. We started with the Cantos with each horn choir on opposite sides of the hall up in the balconies. Barry was conducting from the back of the hall. We sounded awesome from my perspective and many in the audience said it was fantastic. My quartet was up next thank goodness. I was really nervous and I was very glad to be on early in the concert. This was my first experience playing in public in a small group. It went okay but I certainly could have played better. I did play better at the rehearsal. After it was over Bob said I did great but I think he was being nice. I think there is going to be a CD made so I will hear for myself how it really went.
All the other ensembles played after we did and I thought everything was excellent. The faculty played some really great horn and piano, horn duets and horn quartets and then the horn choir was back on for the final two pieces. By this time I was calm. I played in two horn choirs at IHS and by now I’ve played in many band concerts so I wasn’t very nervous. I think we played really well – even the La Peri fanfare.
After the concert we had a pizza party and everyone said goodbye and those of us who lived relatively nearby – defined as on the east coast – each other made plans to try to get together. We were all sorry that BTI was over. It’s really hard to describe how fantastic this experience was. I know I came out a better horn player than when BTI started. I think it would have been years before I had a chance to play in a quartet in public. I learned a lot and I gained confidence with my playing. I’m definitely going again next year.