The Horn Capital of Canada
For the 8th time, Hornfest returns to MRU Conservatory.
Laurie Matiation, instructor with MRU and Horn player with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, is ready. She announces, “Our guest artist is Dr. Ashley Cumming who’s originally from this area (Alberta). She studied with Jeff Nelson.”
Nelsen, who’s also hails from Alberta, is the horn player in the Canadian Brass.
At the risk of seeming like we’re blowing our own horn, it seems like Alberta’s got talent when it comes to this instrument.
Cumming, who studied at Indiana State and now works at Murray State University, contacted Matiation to see if there was an opportunity to work with the students of the MRU Conservatory Academy for Gifted Youth. Matiation saw an opportunity, “I had hired her for the Academy Program, and it was right around Hornfest, so we put it together.”
Hornfest, which runs the weekend of March 4-5, 2017, is a celebration of horn playing with a particular emphasis on playing together.
“We’re going to be working on a lot of ensemble stuff,” Matiation explains, “Every person who comes is going to be put in a small ensemble… a duo, trio, quartet or sextet.”
Clinicians and coaches are established horn players like Matiation, Heather Wootton, Douglas Umana and Jennifer Frank-Umana all of whom occupy seats in the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
For those contemplating joining, you’re more than welcome.
“It’s open to anyone from beginners to adult horn players in the community.” Matiation explains, “It’ll be a nice community weekend of horn playing.”
Along with repertoire that includes some movie music, “like some John Williams or (the theme to) Rocky,” Matiation alludes to a special commission that a lucky octet could play, “We have a new piece we might feature this year. It was used at Joan Watson’s memorial service.” Watson was the Principal horn player of the Canadian Opera Company who passed a couple years ago.
Matiation is hoping this new work will pay tribute to an inspiring player and teacher who had worked as a clinician at MRU Conservatory.
Hornfest continues to enrich the education of local brass players by bringing them together with great instructors and guest artists. Matiation notes the support of the Margaret Stephens Memorial Fund, a fund established after a passionate adult horn player who played in the Westwinds Society Band in Calgary, which allows Hornfest to invite guest artists to come to MRU.
As highlights go, whether it’s the master classes, guest artists or mass horn choir finale, Matiation says, “It’s hard to pinpoint one particular thing.” But she knows her favourite part of the gig, “It’s watching the students have that ‘lightbulb’ experience. You know, I can do this! I’m a part of that sound.”
It’s this excitement and inspiration that ensures Hornfest will continue to produce and support the upper brass of Canadian horn playing for decades to come.