Tag Archives: French Horn

French Horn Week – THANK YOU!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated and enjoyed French Horn Week last week!  I’ve received a lot of great feedback and I appreciate everyone who liked or shared or commented on what I put together for you.

I’d especially like to thank Erin, Adam, Julia and Gene, Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s fabulous horn section!  (Applause – Applause!)

Sure I’ve seen and heard them all perform, but prior to starting this adventure, I’d only ever met Adam and even then, only a couple of months earlier for a short while at a festival.

Yet, though we were strangers, all four of them were kind enough to welcome me into their homes, meet with me over skype when distance got in the way,  introduce me to their families, donate a couple of hours (at least!) of their time to help me put all this together.  They answered my myriad questions, (trust me – I had a lot!) helped clarify details and listened to follow up questions from a former clarinet player who hadn’t even played her instrument since the 90s yet who still attempted to sound semi-intelligent while talking to them!

They did all that – outside their hours of practicing, caring for their families, and spending times with friends just so I could attempt to introduce them to you.

I think that’s pretty cool!

I’m eternally grateful for their generosity.  I hope they like what I did and I sure hope I did them justice because, like the other CSO musicians, these players are really good.  They’re not just pretty faces with a subtle hint of talent, who happened upon a really good marketing rep like a lot of “singers” you hear on most radio stations these days. No.

They are legitimately good and serious musicians and their playing is their marketing.  They have dedicated their lives to playing great music in order to grant the rest of us a pleasant escape for a couple hours on the weekend.

I think that’s pretty worthy of our appreciation, don’t you?  :-)

Thanks again, horn players! I hate it that I’m going to be out of state for the Mahler 2nd this Friday, so I hope you guys let me know how it goes.  I’ll see you the next weekend for the Rachmaninoff!


And to all my readers – this is only the beginning.  I’m already working on Bassoon Week (seriously – sharks have nothing on this!) and look forward to talking with our new concertmaster and hopefully some more brass players because there’s just got to be a brass quartet or quintet playing somewhere around the holidays in this town, right?

If you’re a musician and would like to be next up for “(Insert instrument name here) Week”, please shoot me an Email.  I can be reached at giocosity (at) gmail (dot) com!  THANK YOU!

 - Heather

P.S. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch last Monday about the treasure that is our symphony and it ran on Friday!  Check it out!

Irrepressible Symphony is Worth a Listen

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin Lano – Adam Koch – Julia Rose – Gene Standley – Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you! 

Soul of an Orchestra

Welcome to our last day of French Horn week here at Giocosity. I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting all the horn players of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Don’t worry, I have a few more horn players for you to meet, including Arty Robinson, an up and coming horn player currently at The Ohio State University School of Music, but let’s talk some music first.


French horns have quite a personality as well as a gorgeous sound. When they first started becoming popular, composers, such as Robert Schumann, were fascinated with them.

It was Schumann who said that “the sound of the horn is the soul of the orchestra.” From the La Jolla Music Society website, I learned this about him:

In the winter of 1849 Schumann became interested in the French horn. The recent invention of the valved horn gave the once-awkward natural horn much greater range, flexibility, and expressive power, and–working at white heat–Schumann set out to exploit the possibilities he recognized in the new instrument. He composed the Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano in four days (February 14-17, 1849) and then over the next three days sketched out the Concert Piece for Four Horns and Orchestra.

Two horn pieces in a week’s time. That’s pretty impressive, don’t you think? Take a look at these two quotes.

Composers generally call on them when bravura is needed, but they also can supply a soulful, melancholy sonority as well.

 - Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson

I myself have always had a weakness for the sound of eight French horns playing in unison. Their rich, golden, legendary sonority transports me.

 - Aaron Copland


Helen Kotas was the first woman to be principal horn player for a major American orchestra

Sarah Willis is the first woman to play a brass instrument for the Berlin Philharmonic

I would rather quit several years too soon than 10 minutes too late.

 - Phillip Farkas about leaving his position as Principal Horn of a major symphony orchestra to become horn professor at Indiana University.

This is my favorite!

Who is this Beethoven? His name is not known to us. Of course, Punto is very well known.

 - A 19th century local music critic about horn player, Giovanni Punto, upon playing the Sonata for Horn and Piano Op. 17 by Beethoven in Pest, Hungary.


These are a few of the suggestions of pieces that were recommended this week as great examples of French horn music that we should all have in our music libraries. What I have here is just a small sampling, too! My personal favorite is the third one: the Mozart horn concerto.

I love everything by Mozart, so start with that, but be sure to listen to the Schumann. After that, try the Strauss. From there, venture out to some Wagner and then follow Gene’s advice and listen to “all the 5ths:” the 5th Symphonies by Mahler, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. (Throw in Beethoven’s 5th while you’re at it. It’s just good in its own right!)

After listening to all of those, figure out which ones you liked best and then try something else by that same composer and keep working your way out from there. Have fun with it! There’s a lot of great music to be heard! And if you think you’re ready to venture out again, away from YouTube, then why not try an actual concert? Mahler’s 2nd and a Mozart’s Horn Concerto #3 are both coming up!


When talking to Erin, Adam, Julia and Gene, I asked them all where they saw the CSO in the next 3-5 years. They’ve already traveled a long (long) road within the last 5 years. They all spoke of having improved artistically under the leadership of Maestro Jean-Marie Zeitouni, but want to continue that trend with the next music director.

They all long for a longer schedule! (Obviously – they enjoy being working musicians!) Julia hopes for a new music director who can continue pushing them to make the best music possible.  Erin hopes for someone who can help grow the orchestra. Gene hopes for a return to a 35 week schedule, but knows that it comes down to fundraising. Adam hopes for a good balance of old and new, for innovation without alienating any existing segments of the audience.

Adam went on to say that in doing that, they could “catapult themselves into the next generation”.


This is the current generation of horn players within the CSO. Some are new. Some have been around for a while. So what about the next generation? What about some up and coming horn players?

Rite of Spring Horns

From left to right, Erin Lano, Julia Rose, Adam Koch, Gene Standley and Arty Robinson

While learning about the French horn, Maestro Wilson told me that,

There are regularly four members to the section (adding a fifth with the traditional assistant to the principal), so it is the largest wind section in terms of numbers.

Shown above, Ohio State senior, Arty Robinson auditioned for and made the substitute list with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra last fall where he’s been called to play at rehearsals and family concerts. In March, he had the good fortune of being called to join the horn section for their performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

Click here to hear the CSO’s performance of the Rite of Spring.  If you listen carefully, you can also hear the tapping of the dancers’ feet on stage!

Like the rest of the section he, too, thinks of Stravinsky as a genius and even wrote a paper on him while still in high school!  (Hmm – wonder if I can get a copy of that!)

Arty told me that he’s been a part of the CSO’s Youth Orchestra programs and has studied with former 2nd Horn, David Urschel, since he was in middle school. He’s currently studying under professor Bruce Henniss at the Ohio State University School of Music and plays a Lewis & Duerk LDx5 French horn. Last summer he attended the Aspen Music Festival and School as a scholarship student of David Wakefield, Horn and Chamber Music professor from Julliard.

Arty’s dream job would be as a horn player in the Chicago or San Francisco Symphony. I truly hope he makes it to one of those!

Perhaps the generation after him will someday consider a job in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra as their dream job!!


Well that’s it for French horn week! I hope that somewhere along the line someone out there is listening right now to one of the videos above. or is backtracking to Adam’s post to listen to his take on the theme to the new Star Trek movies, or kicking back and checking out the schedule of their local symphony. Heck – maybe someone will even think about suggesting that their child take up the French horn. Music is a wonderful thing and whether we listen to it or create it ourselves, it should always have a place in our lives.  I hope you agree!

Thank you very much for taking the time to read all I’ve written this week. I really appreciate it!  Now – what instrument should I write about next?! :-)

Many thanks to Arty for the use of his (group) picture on this post! 

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin Lano – Adam Koch – Julia Rose – Gene Standley Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you!   

Gene Standley – Principal French Horn

Of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s French horn section:

These folks are phenomenal.  They always deliver with precision and passion.  And to think that the section has changed so much over the years in terms of personnel, it is all the more a tribute to consistent leadership of Gene and the luck we have had at acquiring the right talent at the right time.

 - Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson

Welcome to Day 4 of French Horn week!  Today we have the pleasure of meeting Principal horn player, Gene Standley, probably one of the nicest people you could ever meet! 



Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Alma Mater: Curtis Institute of Music – studied with all the principals of the Philadelphia orchestra

Home Life: Wife, Jocelyn – also a horn player, four children and lots of livestock!  I live on a working farm.

Gene is also a cancer survivor of 3 years!

Any fun hobbies?  Collecting classical music LPs – lots of classical music LPs!  Also model trains and bargain hunting!

Why the French horn?  Both parents played the French horn with the Pittsburgh Symphony (back in the 1950s).  Mom was really helpful in getting me get started and then Dad, a well-known horn teacher, helped me from there.

Instrument: C.F. Schmidt (Carl Fischer – a repairman and dealer in Chicago)  My particular horn was originally made in the 1930s, but bought by my dad in the 1980s and didn’t play well, so I had it fixed up.  Dale Clevenger, principal horn in the Chicago Symphony, played a C.F. Schmidt, too!

How often do you practice? About 1 hour every day, but about 2 hours per day during the season.

Who are some of your favorite French horn players?  Radek Baborák, Sarah Willis and Stefan Dohr.


With what other ensembles have you played?  Once in a while I play with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and I played with the Philadelphia Orchestra back in the 70s-80s, when Riccardo Muti was at the podium, also with the Pittsburgh Symphony with Lorin Maazel for the Wagner Ring excerpts.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  If you know the people understand and know the music, then you’re playing for a group of people who know what to expect.  It’s definitely more rewarding if you pull it off and play it well.  You can feel a lack of intensity from the state if the audience is bored.

For myself, I gain a reaffirmation of what I know I can do.  Hopefully I’ll play it better than the time before.  It’s always a learning experience.

Bud Herseth always talked about his lifelong quest to learn and grow.

What’s the best place to perform outside of Columbus?  Denison University (Granville, OH)

Any memorable performances?  Tchaikovsky’s 5th under Gunther Herbig.  I first played at rehearsal and knew I was off.  It was going to be my first concert after cancer.  Maestro Herbig asked me how I was going to do it?  “Figure it out!”, I told myself.  I pulled it off and Maestro Herbig said, “What a wonderful recovery!”

Which concert are you most looking forward to playing this year?  Mahler’s 2nd, Bruckner 9 (Wagner horn), Brahms Symphonies



Year joined the CSO: 1990, Principal as of 1991

What brought you to Columbus?  Imra Szukfu, then-personnel manager with the CSO, finally called me before I’d already signed up for another year with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  I auditioned and won a one-year appointment.

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre?  Both – depends on the kind and size of piece being played.

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra?

They should know how important it is to support the local symphony.

People en masse have so much power – if everyone in Columbus donated $2-5, we’d be set.


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  Get to know it!  Try it!

Start with the basics – Peter and the Wolf, Beethoven’s 5th, etc.

Who are your favorite composers? Mahler, Brahms, Bruckner, Beethoven, Ravel, Debussy, Prokofiev

What’s your favorite musical era: Romantic

What are your favorite pieces for the French horn? Mahler 5th, Tchaikovsky 5th, Shostakovich 5th, Wagner operas (Wagner knew how to write for the horn!)

What French horn music should I have in my music library? All the 5ths! (5th Symphonies – Mahler 5th, Tchaikovsky 5th, Shostakovich 5th, etc!)

Here’s a quick bit of music that Gene was nice enough to play for me – with no warm up but a quick run through of the Star Trek theme right before! (I couldn’t get him to play THAT for me on video, but I think this is quite good, don’t you?!)


Any rival sections?  The loge.

Any good quotes about French horns?  Yes –don’t mess with a French horn player.  Dale Clevenger was tough – you just didn’t mess with him!

What exactly IS hand stopping?  It’s when we actually ‘jam’ our hand firmly inside the bell to seal off the sound. This creates a high pitched ‘sizzle’ sound that is used in works by French composers as well as Mahler and others.

Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird?  Both – he definitely liked to be different!  It’s easy for musicians to overdo it though.

Hey – a little support on Stravinsky’s weirdness!  Of course, his music IS growing on me!  And the math really is impressive!  Something to think about, I suppose!  Come back tomorrow for the soul of the Orchestra!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin Lano – Adam Koch – Julia RoseGene StandleySoul of the Orchestra Thank you!  

Julia Rose – Associate Principal French Horn

Welcome to day 3 of French Horn week!  Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Julia Rose - Associate Principal French Horn with the CSO. So glad the flute didn’t work out for her!



Hometown: Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Alma Mater: University of Wisconsin – Madison

Home Life: Julia has a husband and two children, Jack (8 years) and Judy (10 months).  They also have a very big, very affectionate 90-lb black lab / chow mix! (Very cute, too!)

Any fun hobbies? Yes – she’s an infant!

Why the French horn?  It was pretty! In 5th grade, I tried the flute, but couldn’t make a sound out of it, so I chose the French horn!

Instrument: I own 3- a Felix Cantesanu Horn as my primary instrument, a Finke Descant horn with Ron Pinc lead pipe, and a Rauch horn currently on the shelf as backup


How often do you practice? 3 hours / day Monday-Friday.  Weekends are tough with the kids, but I still try for 2 hours on the weekends.

Who are some of your favorite French horn players? John Zirbel, principal horn with the Montreal Symphony.  A former teacher of mine, and an incredible and inspiring musician.


With what other ensembles have you played?  New World Symphony in Miami, FL, Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony / Pops, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. (These days) other than the occasional freelance gig, I don’t play outside the CSO.  I occasionally perform for my church, but would love to play more chamber music.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  We’re giving them pleasure.  People come to our concerts and want to be entertained.  This is their leisure activity.  Everybody’s stressed out – they come to our concerts to escape the bad things in life.  We’re part of what makes humanity human.  Work for me is a sort of escape.

Life is hard.  We work with the best that humanity has to offer, and I get to give the gift of it to others.  I love music!  It’s a privilege to have a job doing what I love.

Where’s the best place to perform outside of Columbus? Carnegie Hall in NYC for its great acoustics.

Any memorable performances? Rite of Spring (March 2013) – I FINALLY got to perform it! Also, I was the soloist in a performance of the Strauss 1st Concerto with the New World Symphony in 1997.  It was a transcendent experience – everything went right!  It was the perfect performance!

Which concert are you most looking forward to playing this year? Mozart – Father and Son with James Sommerville.  “He’s one of the best horn players out there.  I’ve been a fan of his since college.  An amazing musician!”


Year joined the CSO: 1997

What brought you to Columbus?  After three years with the New World Symphony in Miami, I auditioned for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and was the runner-up.  The lady who won the post, opted instead for a position playing in Philadelphia so it was offered to me.

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre? Southern

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra? 

It’s the best kept secret in this town.

Even with ups and downs the last several years, it’s virtually the same orchestra as when it was a 46-week orchestra.


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  If you’re on the fence, you should give it a chance.  It changes your mood – you can start in a bad mood and end up in a great mood afterwards. Don’t knock it until you try it.

If you don’t think you like it because you don’t know it, give it a chance!

Who’s your favorite composer? Mahler (at the moment)

What’s your favorite musical era? Romantic

What are your favorite pieces of music for the French horn? Anything Mahler, Brahms Horn Trio (Violin, Horn, Piano)

What French horn music should I have in my music library? Schumann Concert Piece for 4 horns and orchestra, Mozart Horn concertos, Richard Strauss horn concertos


Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird? Genius!

Oh yeah – I’m totally outnumbered on this one!  Come back tomorrow to meet Principal Gene Standley!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin LanoAdam KochJulia RoseGene Standley – Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you! 

Adam Koch – Acting Second Horn / Tenured Fourth Horn

Horn player, Adam Koch, and his wife, Kat, were at the Arts Festival last June which is where I originally met them.  Like the other three horn players, Adam was an enthusiastic participant in French Horn Week, so much so, that he agreed to let me record him playing the theme to the latest set of Star Trek movies.  Such a good sport!


Hometown: Olympia, WA

Alma Mater: Indiana University, B.S.O.F. French Horn Performance, Outside Field Business. –  1 year at Rice University, but was then selected for a position in Charleston.

Home Life: Wife, Kat and a Siberian Husky (GiGi)

Any fun hobbies? Playing the French horn started as a hobby but then turned into a career.  Photography (View Adams photos here).  I also work part-time as a vegan chef at The Wellness Forum in Worthington.

Why the French horn?  My parents liked the music from out of Africa which had great French horn parts, so I tried it.  And my parents told me “And if you’re really good, you can get a scholarship to college!”

Instrument: Engelbert Schmid


Close up of Adam’s French horn

How often do you practice? About an hour a day.  More when I am in ‘audition mode’

Who are some of your favorite French horn players?  Bill VerMeulen – my teacher at Rice, a great mentor, colleague, and friend.  He stays within the rules, but loves to stretch the limits.  He has some very fresh and cool interpretations of Mozart horn concertos, for example.


With what other ensembles have you played?  I occasionally sub with Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston and Cincinnati.  I also play with the New Albany Symphony, music festivals, small chamber groups, church gigs.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  Sharing with them something that’s very important to us – to me – is like giving someone a surprise gift.

You know what it is, how awesome it is, you’re almost giddy with excitement!  I hope they enjoy it.  I hope they get that tingly feeling down their spine at the big moments.  That’s what I hope to share.

For myself, I hope for the same – that feeling of awe and the beauty inherent in the music.  You need both precision and abandon to make it beautiful.

Where are some great places to perform outside of Columbus? Steamboat Springs, Colorado – beautiful, mountains, mountain air, awesome food!  But I still like the Ohio Theatre – here, I’m surrounded by colleagues and friends.

Any memorable performances?  Beethoven 9 (even playing it 3-4 times, you still get something new.)  Mahler and Strauss are especially fun to play!  It was my first time doing the Rite of Spring this past year with live dancers on stage.  Very fun!

Which concert are you most looking forward to playing this year? Mahler #2, Resurrection.


Year joined the CSO: 2007

What brought you to Columbus?  This job!

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre? Both for different reasons – Southern for the smaller ensembles, Ohio for the larger.

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra?  This is our full-time job, not a side thing.  Most of us spend many hours a day when not physically at work honing our craft and preparing mentally and physically for performances.

Sorry for making a football reference, but its similar to — the buckeyes! — They spend a lot of time at practice.  When not at practice, they’re jogging, lifting weights, studying plays.  Similarly, when not in rehearsal, we are jogging, lifting weights, studying music, practicing fundamentals, tweaking equipment, We’re athletes too!  Athletes of the small muscles!


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  They just haven’t heard the right piece yet!

Who are your favorite composers? Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Bruckner, Mahler, R. Strauss, Arvo Pärt (not necessarily for the horn – he’s just really interesting!)

What’s your favorite musical era?  Romantic (everyday favorite), Baroque (Listens to Sunday Baroque on the radio with a cup of coffee)

What are your favorite pieces of music for the French horn? Anything by the above composers – anything with a lot of horns in it – anything where I can be a badass!  Bach Cello Suites are fun to play on the French horn! I’m A big fan of the Mozart and Strauss concertos but I really like later horn music.  Sonatas by Eric Ewazen, Halsey Stevens, Bernard Heiden.  I’m currently working on a really cool horn concerto by Reinhardt that jumps all over the range really fast.  Pretty flashy!

What French horn music should I have in my music library? Halsey Stevens Sonata for Horn and Piano, Obviously, the Mozart horn concerti.


I know you played a concert with the Cincinnati Symphony that was nothing by Star Trek / Star Wars.  Would you please play the latest theme to Star Trek?

SO – Any rival sections?  No idea, but we sound really good with the cellos!

And finally – Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird?  Genius.  Think of all the math he had to do to eventually find that common denominator to get us all back on the same beat!


Come back tomorrow to meet Associate Principal, Julia Rose!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin LanoAdam KochJulia RoseGene Standley – Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you! 

Erin Lano – Acting Fourth / Utility French Horn

Erin Lano, is the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s newest horn player. She joins the CSO this year as a full-time musician after having subbed for two years.   

Originally from Richmond, VA and a veteran marathon runner, she’s currently in the process of moving from Chicago to Columbus in the next week or so.  She was kind enough to talk to me via Skype, hence the reason behind her having lent me some pictures – which are a tad more formal than those I took of her fellow horn players!  

So please let me take this opportunity to introduce you to her.

Everyone: Meet Erin!

Erin Lano


Hometown:  Richmond, VA

Alma Mater: B.M. New England conservatory of  Music (studied under James Sommerville) and Master’s degree (M.M.) from Rice university.

Home Life: Husband Matt Lano, who plays the bassoon, and a pet snake named Chloe.

Any fun hobbies? I like to run and have run the Chicago marathon 6 times.


Why the French horn? My parents told me I had to be in band.  Mom used to play the French horn.  It sounded pretty and we had one sitting around the house, so I might as well have played that!

What kind of instrument do you play? Ricco Kühn

How often do you practice? About 2-4 hours per day

Who are some of your favorite French horn players? Radovan Vlatković – I love his sound, how smoothly he plays and how musical he is.  James Sommerville, William VerMeulen (Rice University also 1st horn of Houston Symphony)   The Chicago Symphony horn section!  Sarah Willis, Low horn with the Berliner Philharmoniker – definitely a huge inspiration.


With what other ensembles have you played?   I’m Principal Horn with the West Michigan Symphony, 3rd horn at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, OR and I play with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. In Chicago, I sub with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera, Grant Park Orchestra and have also subbed with the Cincinnati and Milwaukee Symphonies.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  I want to play my best.  Each time I perform a piece, I learn a little more about it. I hope to learn more about the other parts to see the big picture.

I hope the audience is moved in some way.  I want the orchestra to get the emotional content of the music and for the audience to feel an emotional connection to the orchestra and to the music.

Being in an orchestra – being able to recreate these great masterpieces.  It’s so rewarding!

Where are some great places to play outside of Columbus: Symphony Hall in Boston or Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park, Chicago

Any memorable performances?  Playing principal on Mahler’s 9th with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Orchestra Hall.

Which concert(s) are you most looking forward to playing this year? Mahler 2nd, Brahms 4th


Year joined the CSO: 2013, Subbed for two years prior.

What brought you to Columbus?  I’ve been Freelancing in Chicago for 6 years now.  A couple of years ago, Adam (Koch) called me to play a gig in Cleveland, which was right before Columbus Symphony Orchestra Sub auditions.  He told me I should take the audition, and I have been coming out a lot since then.

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre? Ohio Theatre

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra? We are really lucky to have such a great orchestra.  Columbus does far more in terms of a meaty, classical repertoire during the year than some other orchestras of its size.  Such a great variety and we have a huge hall, too, so there are plenty of seats!


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  I’d offer up some suggestions or suggest they hear a live performance just to get a full sampling of it.  If you find a piece or a composer who really resonates with you, then work your way out from there.  There’s such a huge variety to the classical repertoire, I think everyone could find something to love about it.

Who are your favorite composers? Mozart, Brahms

What’s your favorite musical Era:  Romantic

Favorite show off piece for the French horn: Mozart Horn concertos, Former professor James Sommerville plays so expressively, so musically – he taught me how to play the Mozart concertos.  “No – you CAN’T do it that way.  Do it THIS way…”

What French horn music should I have in my music library? Till Eulenspiegel, Don Juan by Strauss


Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird?  Genius!

I don’t know, but I might end up being outnumbered on that last question!


Special thanks to Erin for the use of her pictures for this post.  

Come back tomorrow to meet Adam Koch!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin Lano – Adam Koch – Julia Rose – Gene Standley – Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you!  

Bring on the Horns!

French horn week starts on Monday, so I thought I’d get you ready for what’s to come! Let the sounding of the horns begin!

I couldn’t resist putting that in there, especially since the French horn originally got its start as a hunting horn!

Next week’s going to be a lot of fun because – thanks very much to the gracious help and hospitality of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s horn players – I’m going to share what I’ve learned about their wonderful instruments.

I’m also going to introduce you to the CSO’s French horn players themselves, so you can get to know the real people behind some of the beautiful music we all enjoy at concerts.

Or that you will soon enjoy if you’re working on becoming a CSO first timer!

Here’s the plan for next week: 

We’re going to start by talking about the French horn itself – where it came from, what people think, some trivia and basics about this beautiful instrument. When I asked some friends to tell me what they thought when they heard someone say “French horn”, the first things I heard about were pastries and cocktails, so by all means – I’m including those, too, but the real focus is on the music.

Starting later on Monday morning, we’re going to meet our first – and newest – horn player, Erin Lano. Then on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we’re going to meet the rest of the section: Adam Koch, Julia Rose and Principal, Gene Standley. Finally on Friday, we’re going to get into the more serious side of things and learn their thoughts on leadership and where they hope to see the orchestra in the next few years. Naturally, I’ll include some great music for you to try!


Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes!: Who said you should never eyeball a horn player? Find out on Monday!

 Erin Lano: Ask her about Chloe!


Adam Koch: Invite him to dinner – as the chef!


Julia Rose: Has a new baby girl!


Gene Standley: Great vinyl collection!


Soul of the Orchestra: Bringing it all together – thoughts on and samples of great music, hopes for the future

Interspersed throughout the week will be comments from conductors, professors and even the next generation of horn players, so I hope you’ll join us next week. I especially hope you’ll let me know what you think by leaving comments and sharing this with your friends as well.

And on a side note, no pun intended…

I don’t work for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra nor do I work in any part of the music industry. I just love music and have been fortunate enough to have gotten a lot of cooperation needed to be able to put all this together. My hope is that you’ll want to get to know these amazing musicians as well as learn a bit more about the music that inspires them to dedicate their lives to creating and communicating to us via this art form. My other hope is that maybe this week’s worth of blog posts will entice some of you to join me for a night at the symphony! If an extra one or two of you decide to try out a concert, then it will have been worth it. If an extra 10-15 of you show up – that’ll be even better!

So in the meantime, have a great weekend!  I’ll see you next week!  :-)

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin Lano – Adam Koch – Julia Rose – Gene StandleySoul of the Orchestra – Thank you! 

Star Trek and French Horns

Over the last week or so, I’ve been meeting with the four horn players of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  They have all been so kind to let me into their homes and discuss their (our) symphony, their backgrounds, their love of music, you name it.  I’m so very grateful for that because in getting to know them, I’ve discovered that not only are they talented musicians, but they’re all very nice people I’m so glad to have met.

They’ve also all been good enough to show a lot of patience with my geekiness. Do you know how much the French horn is featured in Star Trek movie theme music?  Quite a lot, actually and our horn players were such good sports that two of them even played some for me.

Of course, I only got one of them on video and you’ll have to wait for that until French Horn Week (September 23-27), but check these out in the meantime.

This is from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Listen to the horns about 1:30 in.

From Star Trek: First Contact, they kick in with the main melody around 40-45 seconds in.

From the surprise attack in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, arguably the best of all the Star Trek movies.  The horns really add to the drama on this.  They kick in pretty early on and are heard throughout.  If you want to watch the actual scene, click here.  Ricardo Montalban was excellent in this role!  Update: Had to make some changes since the original link I had was disabled, so you get the whole scene anyway.  Check out those 1982 special effects!  French horns start about 30-40 seconds in but get more fun just before the 2-minute mark.  Enjoy!

And from the most recent movie, and possibly my favorite, Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Star Trek and French horns – such a great combination!  Am I a bit of a geek for putting these together?  Perhaps, but it’s all good.  So what do you think?

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