IHS 44

A few weeks ago, I had one of the best weekends of my life. While it doesn’t compare to my wedding, or the births of my children, or anything like that, I was thrilled nonetheless. I got to go to IHS 44!!

I can almost hear you shrugging your shoulders and scratching your head. IHS is the International Horn Symposium. As in french horn. And this was the 44th Annual Symposium. Make sense now?

It was several days dedicated to my beloved instrument, with hundreds of other people who love it as much as I do, many of whom play considerably better than I! I was only able to attend a couple of days, but it was still wonderful. There were lectures, Master Classes, contests, recitals, reading sessions, performance opportunities, concerts, exhibits…it was like french horn heaven…or Comic-Con.

I realize that there are probably only 2 or 3 of my friends who share my interest in this particular instrument, but most of you who know me will understand why this was such an incredible treat for me. I don’t have very many opportunities to play these days, but I still harbor dreams of studying for my Masters in Performance someday. I joke that french horn is my first love, and my husband doesn’t get offended, because he knows I mean it chronologically. (Plus, he’s a musician, too, so he gets what I mean.) I’ve played for almost 18 years now, and I only met him 12 years ago.

I need to take the time to write a whole post about this phenomenal weekend, just to remember how great it was. I’m not sure I’ll make it to another Symposium any time soon, since they are held all over the world. Next year”s is in Tennessee, so it’s not completely out of the question, but what would I do with three little rugrats while I went out there to play?

Anyway, back to the point of this post. I’m not all that big on hero worship. There aren’t many people whose autograph I would care to have. The number of famous people who I really care about  meeting could probably be counted on one hand, two maybe. But this guy? Oh. yeah.

The man in the middle is Barry Tuckwell. (My cousin Chad, who also plays horn, is on the right.) I know you’ve probably never heard of him, but he is a french horn rockstar. He’s in his 80s now, but his career was absolutely full to the brim of  the kinds of things that most hornists live only in their dreams. He had his first professional symphony appointment at age 15. FIFTEEN, people!! (Sorry for yelling, it’s just amazing.) He was one of the first professional horn soloists, and was the first president of the International Horn Society. He is the most recorded hornist of all time, and it’s a good thing, because he is the soloist I always looked for when I needed to listen to a piece on which I was working.  He is also a well-respected author, pedagogue and conductor. And I got to meet him! Shake his hand! Get his autograph! And get a photo with him!

He is an absolutely kind and gracious man, with a wonderful sense of humor. I am so glad that I was able to watch him conduct a concert, and be conducted by him. I’ll be telling my grandchildren about this. And when they say “Who?” I’ll just pull out whatever audio media we have by then and let them take a listen to his exceptional artistry. I recommend you do the same. Start with Richard Strauss’s first horn concerto. It’s my favorite.


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