Playing any musical instrument has its challenges, but French horn technique is considered more difficult to acquire than that of any other instrument in the orchestra. Sacramento State horn professor and Horn Day director Pete Nowlen says it’s all a matter of confidence.
“Well my theory on the difficulty of the horn is that the reason Horn has that reputation is it’s the easiest to sound incompetent on. To just play a single whole note at a certain moment can be the most difficult.”
Dozens of horn enthusiasts – regardless of age and ability -- will join forces at Sac State on Saturday. Nowlen feels the event offers its participants rare reinforcement and a sense of community.
A lot of times young horn players might be the only person playing horn in their school and that can be a pretty lonely business. So I like to offer a connection to other horn players, a chance for them to come out and hear players who are maybe more accomplished and also hear maybe some good players have some of the difficulties that they have so that they know that their not unique in that standpoint.”
No one gets left out of the main event, a Gala concert where all players participate in a massed horn choir. Nowlen says it’s a Hornday highlight.
You just don’t get to sit in a room with dozens of hornists pretty much more than once a year, if that. And we have parts appropriate for everyone from an accomplished professional to someone who’s been playing one year. So everyone can have a great time in the massed choir.”
Angelina Contrerras has been working on “the Hunter’s Requiem,” composed by acclaimed hornist and Horn Day special guest Lowell Greer. It’s part of Saturday evening’s concert, which she and the other horn players eagerly anticipate.
“I think the rehearsals are a lot of fun... but, yeah the concerts the best cause it’s the reward at the end of the day, you get to hear the final product and even if there’s a few mistakes it’s all worth it, you know, because we all put in that effort.”
Horn Day begins tomorrow morning at 9 on the Sac State campus, then moves to First United Methodist Church in downtown Sacramento for the closing concert at 7:30 pm.