This past Saturday, I attended South Bay Horn Day at Mountain View High School. The festival lasted from nine in the morning to nine at night, with a mix of workshops, horn choir rehearsals, and performances filling the day. It is held annually, and I only attended once before in 2013.
From my seat in the mass choir It was a joy to meet so many other horn players from the area and to hear the excitement in their voices as they recounted their experiences with the instrument. It was a joke instantiated in several forms and reiterated almost ad nauseam that we’ve all sold our souls to one of the most difficult instruments to play. Laughs of solidarity on this topic sounded from dawn till dusk. Memorable performances from the day included the world premiere of a piece for horn quartet called VA 22211 and a horn choir rendition of an aria from Mendelssohn’s Elijah oratorio (“O rest in the Lord”). VA 22211, named in reference to the zip code of Arlington National Cemetery, pays tribute to our fallen heroes and explores a range of feelings from hymnal reverence to heroic fervor. The Mendelssohn selection felt to me more sacred and spiritual in an all-horn setting than in its original scoring for orchestra and soprano. Its cadential C major chord freed me of all worldly cares, if only for a few moments.