I spent many years of my life as a French Horn player wandering around the country from audition to audition... sleeping on people's couches... playing any gig I could find no matter how bizarre... the Christmas Brass Quintet concert with an open bar being a particular favorite (Why would you hire kids in high school and then let them have access to an open bar??!). My main teachers were Dave Krehbiel
(French Horn Zen Master) who was principal of the SF Symphony for many years; and Robert Ward
, whom I will without reservation say is technically the best Horn player of all time as well as one of the nicest.
Highlights that spring to mind include:
- my first concerto performance (Mozart's 4th with YPSO under Eric Hansen)
- doing Thea Musgrave's amazing Horn Concerto (Kent Nagano suggested it when he was giving me a lift one day after a rehearsal with the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra)
- being principal horn under David Milnes with the SF Symphony Youth Orchestra when we won the City of Vienna Prize
- playing 2nd horn next to Phil Munds for Beethoven's 5th with the SFYO (we kicked some major ass... no doubles, no assistant, just 2 horns balls out)
- getting to do the second performance of Charles Wuorinen's Double Solo for Horn Trio (not me playing) as a ballet no less
- coaching at the Sequia Chamber Music Workshop
- and playing Ring of Fire at the Berkeley Tower Records on a dare from one of the clerks
The most amount of money that I got for playing horn was when I got an offstage horn part with the SF Symphony doing Strauss' dopey Ein Alpine Symphony, which paid $780 for 3 minutes of actual playing which comes out to about $21,000 an hour (ahh Unions!). My specialty was modern chamber music, specifically playing very softly very quietly.
One day when I was about to take a major audition I learned who was going to win before the auditions even started and realised that this wasn't the right path for me and thus a Perl Monk was born.
I also play the flute, conduct, compose, sing, and engrave music with Score, Finale and now GNU Lilypond. The flute was just an attempt to get a hold on why I kept dating flute players. Never did figure that one out, but luckily there are a lot of flute duets out there.
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