Last Sunday I performed the first movement of the Brahms Horn Trio at the adult chamber music recital at SUNY Stony Brook. This was a huge deal for me since it was my first performance for an audience, other than band concerts, since 1972. I signed up for this adult chamber music class run by Stony Brook last fall and this is the piece that I was assigned for the spring semester. I auditioned for this group for placement only and I thought I had really botched the audition. I guess not. A friend of mine also auditioned and she was placed into a wind quintet with much easier pieces. I always thought that she was a better player than me so it seemed odd to me that I was assigned the Brahms.
The first thing I did when I found out what I was playing was to call my horn teacher and ask if she thought there was any hope for me to play it successfully. I was very skeptical but she said that if I worked hard at it I could do it. To say that I have lived and breathed the Brahms for the past eight weeks would be an understatement. I played the Lowell Greer CD in my car endlessly, I studied the score, and I practiced it for hours each day.
My first rehearsal was pretty bad. I was nervous and I had a lot of trouble getting notes out of my horn. It was quite embarrassing. Fortunately our coach, the violinist, and the pianist were sympathetic and I did get better at each rehearsal. Up until the very last dress rehearsal I was having trouble with some of the rhythm in the 9/8 sections but I finally got it. I think I really tested our coach’s patience as I tried over and over again to get the rhythm right. I had no problem with it if I sang the part, it was just when I put the horn on my face that I kept missing it.
I think the performance was successful. My horn teacher said I should feel that the performance was successful if I played it at least 90% as good as the best I played it practicing. I think I did at least that. I felt good about it when we were done and several people came up to me and said it went well. I managed to get past my nervousness after the first few notes and I don’t think I missed many notes. I’ll know for sure when I hear the CD.
Next up is a performance on June 4th with the horn quartet that I am in. We are playing a Telemann piece, six pieces by Tscherepnine, and an excerpt from Der Freischutz. I am playing first horn for the 5th Tscherepnine piece so I have an opening seven bar solo. Sometimes in rehearsal I play this really well and other times it’s a disaster. Our last rehearsal is this Tuesday June 1st and I hope that I can nail the solo more than once so that I have at least some confidence at the performance.