Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Über travels: Our day at Ball State University

Greetings Blog Readers! We're writing to you from Kelly's CRV, cruising up I65 back to Chicago after an awesome day at Ball State University.  

Dr. Gene Berger was an Über host and Ball State University itself was a beautiful campus filled with welcoming and eager students. 

Our day started at 6am in Chicago, don't worry the early wake up call was worth it as we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise while traveling to the Hoosier state. 

Once we arrive we were treated to lunch (prime rib!!!) and got right to business. 

Kelly hosted (presented by Hoyer Horns) a class on "Tips, Tricks & Hoyer's". Students were lead thru a group trill lesson among other tips, but the most fun was had when they were encouraged to try the OPPOSITE style horn that they usually play. (Kruspe vs Geyer).  Then Dr. Berger volunteered to be the focus of our Über challenge. Were all those in attendance were asked to face away from the stage and see if they could hear the difference in the two prominent styles of horn wraps. The students were very discerning in their listening and some of the descriptions of the different models were spot on. 

Next up we all headed back to Sursa Hall where 6 different students played for us. We were impressed with their courage (it's not easy to get up in front of a room of hornists and perform, especially at that age) and their choice in music. 
We were delighted that each student was prepared in their musical selection. Lots of great talent there. Watch out folks. 

A quick break and the quartet took the stage to perform an hour long recital. Our program included Dennis LeClaire's Quartet, Kerry Turner's Fandango and Eugene Bozza's Suite for Four Horns. 

The audience was enthusiast and we were even able to take a photo with all the horn day participants at the end. 

We grabbed a bite at Panera and the Übers are now headed back to the Windy City. It's dark, the moon is HUGE and beautiful, and we're still talking about our favorite moments from today (our new shirts were a highlight) and looking thru our pictures. We hope to have some audio clips up soon from our recital. 

Until next time!!!

Liz, Anna, Kelly and Mary Jo

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Getting into the swing of things! Rehearsing for our upcoming concert at Ball State University.

As the summer winds down, it's time to say goodbye to the beach and clear the cobwebs from our vacation chops. The excitement of a new semester and another orchestra season (not to mention the next installment of Downton Abbey) brings a fresh wave of motivation and inspiration. Uber Quartet is riding that wave in preparing our program for the upcoming season! We're having a lot of fun learning new music and getting creative with how to rehearse it. 

Now, most horn players already know that the horn is by far the most versatile of orchestral instruments (hate mail from trumpet players can go to Exhibit A is Lowell Shaw's arrangement of the "Pizzicato Ostinato" movement from Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony. Originally written for string orchestra, (that's right - four different types of instruments) this piece showcases the range and flexibility of our amazing instrument. Uber has been working on keeping it light, bouncy, and driving. We're looking forward to showing our four-stringed friends how it's done.
One of the main pieces in our program is "Quartet" by Dennis Leclaire. The three movements (Fanfare, Fugue, and Chase) are all technically challenging with intricate lines passing among voices. Our task in approaching this piece is to convey the variety of musical moods without being obstructed by the simple fact that it's hard! We're asking ourselves, "How can we phrase this section to make it more ominous? What kind of balance do we need to build a quiet excitement?" These questions help us transcend the difficulty and bring out the quirky personality of the piece.
Kerry Turner's fun and animated "Fandango" has been another great challenge for the group. We started rehearsing somewhere below half tempo, and are getting it up to a speed where the insane joy at creating something so cool is kicking in. This piece is full of virtuosity, which can be intimidating, but we're remembering that bering immersed in the music and totally focused on the beauty is the best cure for trepidation.

We hope you're feeling as enthusiastic about this time of fresh beginnings as we are! Thanks for reading, and best of luck on your own season of starting anew.