#609 – Dick Bernard: French HORNswoggled

This is about a wonderful French Horn concert I attended on August 6 in St. Paul.
(click on photos to enlarge)

Bob Olsen and conductor Derik Rehurek share some thoughts before the program began

To my knowledge, “hornswoggle” (syn: bamboozled, etc) has absolutely nothing to do with French horns , but I just couldn’t get the word out of my mind as I remembered a delightful evening. I’ve heard the French Horn can be a beast to play, and it has its share of jokes. Here are some.
Maybe one has to have a sense of humor to survive playing the French Horn. At one point in a piece last Monday, I watched cousin Mary Kay, an avid French Horn player, strain to get enough wind to tootle the phrase. She looked almost in pain. Later she told me (if I recall correctly) that the lower register can be a bear if you don’t have a lot of wind.
There were 17 horn-sters at the Horns of Summer concert at the Dove Hill house (next door to the James J. Hill mansion on Summit Avenue, St. Paul). Perhaps there were about as many of us in the audience.
This was a free private concert specifically for people who love to play French horn. MC Bob Olsen, one of the hornsters himself, said there were something over 90 French Horn players on his e-mail list. They play for assorted community orchestras, and occasionally have an opportunity, like this particular evening, to do a program of exclusively French horn Music, as much for their own enjoyment as anything.
They played with gusto!
They tootled away, these hornsters, often playing pretty powerfully in a space specifically designed for concerts and such when Louis and Maud Hill expanded their mansion about 1912. The current owners call their home Dove Hill. Theirs is an elegant space.
Here is the program for the evening: Horns of Summer 2012001
Not sure what French Horns sound like? YouTube has lots of examples.

Tootling away. Cousin Mary is second from right in back row.

Between pieces, the players swapped chairs, and it was sometimes a bit difficult to hear the conductor introduce the next piece. It was not a distraction, however. This was what I would call joyful noise. These were friends, banded together by their love of music and the French Horn, and they only saw each other on occasion. No time to miss an opportunity to catch up!
Short program over, we departed.
I noted two paintings on the wall which were, it turned out, murals about the settlement of this area. The photos are at the end.
Back on Summit, heading to my car and home, for some reason, there was a bit of extra spring in my step!
Many thanks to the Nicholsons for hosting the evening.

Mural, mural on the wall...

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