Los Angeles Philharmonic / Music News & Info: Classical

Chatting with hornists Andrew Bain, Annie Bossler, and Sarah Willis about IHS 2015

Andrew Bain + Annie Bosler + Sarah WillisIt’s shaping up to be a very horn-y week in Los Angeles, and we have local musicians and Colburn School faculty members Andrew Bain and Annie Bosler to thank for it.

“Three years ago or so, I was asked if Colburn would be interested in hosting the International Horn Symposium,” recalls Ms. Bosler.  “Around that time was when Andrew joined the faculty.  One day over lunch, I said, ‘Hey, Andrew, do you want to host the International Horn Symposium,’ and he said, ‘Well, yeah.’ ”

“And here we are,” declared Mr. Bain.

Indeed.  “Here,” in this case, refers to International Horn Symposium (IHS) 2015.  Seven hundred or so horn players — or “French horn” players, if you prefer — have descended upon the city from all over the globe.  The craziness began in earnest this past Sunday evening, has it’s splashiest event tonight with a concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and continues through this Saturday, August 8th.

The Colburn School is the hub of the activity, with workshops, master-classes, and vendor displays.  That said, there are concerts, events, and other goings-on throughout Downtown.  You’ve got some stuff in public places like Grand Park and others in somewhat unlikely places like Blue Whale, the jazz club in Little Tokyo.  Bigger venues range from the early 20th-Century opulence of the Los Angeles Theatre to the 21st-Century alabaster-filtered warmth of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

What is particularly impressive for any classical music fan, not just horn players, is the depth and breadth of big-name horn players who are participating.  Start with orchestral principals from out-of-town:  Dale Clevenger (Chicago Symphony, retired), Stefan Dohr (Berlin Philharmonic), Tim Jones (London Symphony), Dave Krehbiel (San Francisco Symphony, retired), Julie Landsman (The MET Opera Orchestra, retired), Jennifer Montone (Philadelphia Orchestra), Will Sanders (Bavarian Radio Symphony), and Bob Ward (San Francisco Symphony).  Prominent local players include Mr. Bain (who, in addition to his Colburn post, also is Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic), Jim Thatcher (a first-call studio player), and Rick Todd (another major studio player and former Principal of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra).  Former LA Phil Principal John Cerminaro’s name has also been floating around.

Besides all of those individual players, notable ensembles are also participating.  The American Horn Quartet will make appearances, as will the slightly less traditional Genghis Barbie.  It’s also worth mentioning that quartets from horn sections of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, and most surprisingly, the Berlin Philharmonic are doing their thing.

“Andrew is simply one of the best horn players in the world, and we admire him incredibly,” says Sarah Willis, the Berlin Philharmonic’s fourth horn player.  “He’s such a nice guy, and we had to come when he said, ‘Will you come to our IHS?’ Not many other people would have gotten all of us to come in the middle of summer, but Andrew and Annie did.  And they’re doing a fantastic job.”

“The Berlin Philharmonic quartet and Tim Jones aren’t usually seen in the US in a solo or chamber music capacity, and we thought it was a good opportunity to twist their arms and bring them out,” explains Mr. Bain.  “And the LA Phil has been wonderful in partnering with us,” Mr. Bain continues.  “The great thing about it is that they planned [Tuesday] so that it’ll be a concert that everyone and anyone can enjoy.  It just so happens that every piece is a major horn piece.”

“And as we all know, major horn pieces are the best pieces,” he deadpans.

Take a look at the details of this concert, and t’s hard to argue with him.  The second half of the concert features familiar works, the Rosenkavalier Suite and Til Eulinspiegel, by that most horn-friendly of composers, Richard Strauss.  Mr. Bain will be in his usual place playing first horn for the LA Phil for those works.  But the real news is in the first half.

The curtain-raiser for the night, composer Bruce Broughton’s Fanfare for Horns requires four separate horn quartets, with the American Horn Quartet and the horn sections of the LA Phil and San Francisco Symphony being featured, along with members of the Berlin Philharmonic and others in this world premiere.  Next up is the rarely performed Konzertstück by Schumann, a concertino for four horns and orchestra; for tonight’s soloist, they went all out with Mr. Dohr on first horn, Mr. Bain on second, Mr. Jones on third, and Ms. Willis on fourth.  Yikes.  There’ll even be a massed horn ensemble playing in the entrance area to the Bowl prior to the start of the concert, says Mr. Bain.

Overall, it’s one of those truly unique experiences that reminds us how the Hollywood Bowl can be a truly special place.

Ms. Willis even made a pun about the Bowl’s diverse history, pointing out that the Bowl stage will have seen everyone from The Doors to Stefan Dohr. . . . Get it?  Trust me, it was funny when she said it.

Much more about IHS 2015 tomorrow, particularly about the rich history of horns in Hollywood and Ms. Bosler’s movie documenting that history, 1M1: Hollywood Horns of the Golden Years.  A review of tonight’s concert will come shortly thereafter.


Photo credits:

  • Andrew Bain:  photo by CK Dexter Haven
  • Annie Bosler:  courtesy of the artist (anniebosler.com)
  • Sarah Willis:  photo by CK Dexter Haven

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