Music department to host faculty member’s French horn performance at Nutt Auditorium

Posted on Feb 16 2018 - 7:59am by Megan Swartzfager

The University of Mississippi Music Department will continue its Faculty Recital series with a performance of  “Four Octaves, Roughly: The Exciting Range and Breadth of the Horn” this Saturday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in David H. Nutt Auditorium.

Music department faculty members Leander Star, on French horn, and his accompanist Stacy Rodgers will offer a musical history of the horn Saturday night. According to the department’s calendar, the event can be attended for credit by any students enrolled in Music 100 or Music 103. The event requires a ticket, which can be purchased from the Ole Miss Box Office.

“The program covers over 200 years with just three pieces,” Rodgers said. “The excitement comes from the extreme variety of music and the virtuosity required of both players, hornist and pianist.”

The musical works featured in this performance include Beethoven’s “Sonata for Horn Opus 17,” Camille Saint-Saens’s “‘Romance’ Opus 67,” Hildegard Westerkamp’s “Fantasie for Horns” and Bruce Broughton’s “Sonata for Horn.” The Beethoven piece was composed in 1800, and the Broughton piece – which is the most recent of the compositions being performed – was written around 2010.

“My idea for the concert title came from the Beethoven sonata. It was written for a famous horn player, Giovanni Punto, who played a longer, lower pitched horn,” Star said. “This convention of writing for the longer instruments contributed to our modern idea of what a French horn sounds like and the huge range of notes that a player can play. This convention is reflected in the Broughton piece, where the horn player makes use of the full range of the horn and uses their sweetest most lyrical sound.”

The title of the performance makes reference to the “exciting range” of the French horn. Star attributes some of this excitement to the fact that the close harmonics of the instrument make mistakes likely.

“As a horn player, I find a lot exciting about the horn,” Star said. “It has a reputation for general dicey-ness. But beyond the difficulty of the instrument, I think there is something quite stirring about the sound of the horn. There is a reason we use brass instruments during sports and war. The Westerkamp and Beethoven especially play into those exciting aspects of the horn.”

Star plays horn for City of Tomorrow – an award-winning wind quintet – as well as for orchestras in Portland, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the IRIS Orchestra in Memphis and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. He teaches horn at the University of Mississippi and at Rhodes College.

At Saturday’s performance, Star will be accompanied by fellow faculty member Stacy Rodgers on the piano. According to his faculty profile, Rodgers plays more than 20 full-length performances in a typical year. He is head of keyboard studies and collaborative piano in the University of Mississippi’s Music Department.

“The pianist is not playing just a supporting role, but frequently takes center stage as well, so the music-making is a true partnership in the best tradition of chamber music,” Rodgers said.

The performance will be the second of four scheduled performances in the Faculty Recital Series this semester. The series is widely advertised, and Rodgers anticipates that there will be a large audience.

“The purpose of the Faculty Recital Series is to showcase the talents of the music faculty at Ole Miss and at the same time provide arts entertainment for the University and the citizens of Oxford,” Star said.

Tickets for the performance of “Four Octaves, Roughly: The Exciting Range and Breadth of the Horn” this Saturday can be purchased online or in person at the Ole Miss Box Office.