We always hope that a piece we support will live on after the premiere: that the performer(s) who premiered it will play it again, and that others will, too. That ambition grew over time into a desire for at least one of these works still to be played regularly in 100 years. The odds against this happening are high, but it seemed a worthy goal. With typical American hubris, we thought, if Razumovsky could do it with Beethoven, why not us?
The only downside to having such a long-term fantasy is that we will never know which, if any, of our catalog will thrive that long.
What we did not anticipate is a more immediate joy: the thrill of the unexpected when new works appear ‘in the wild.’
In the Spring of 2015, we agreed to commission two pieces that would premiere at the International Horn Symposium (IHS) that was held in early August in Los Angeles. We call these pieces our Staircase Commissions. The first, a horn, mezzo, and piano trio by Geoffrey Gordon, resulted from a chance conversation on the stairs in the Colburn School with Andrew Bain, principal horn of the Lost Angeles Philharmonic, and one of the hosts of the IHS that year. The second also came to us, by an odd coincidence, as we walked down a staircase outside Disney Hall later in May as Robert Albini of the LA Philharmonic told us about it. This second piece was a fanfare for 16 horns, to be premiered during a Philharmonic concert at the Hollywood Bowl. When Robert mentioned this commission to us, we were so charmed by the staircase coincidence plus IHS connection, by the crazy ensemble (16 horns!), and the composer, Bruce Broughton, whose film scores and other music we have always liked, that we instantly agreed to support it.
The premieres took place as planned, as over 800 horn players flooded downtown LA in the area around the Colburn School and Disney Hall. Maestro Broughton’s Fanfare was a treat at the Bowl, in a program that included Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns. The players included the horn sections of the LA Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the Berlin Philharmonic, plus the American Horn Quartet. When conductor James Gaffigan spoke about the piece after intermission, a lusty roar arose from the 700+ horn players in attendance. It felt like a football rally at USC.
As good as the music was, and as much as the premiere was a blast, we doubted that the Fanfare would be played again. This commission would be one and done. It was a challenging piece to play, and challenging to stage, if only because it requires sixteen skilled horn players to be in the same room at the same time.
Imagine our surprise, only six months later, to discover that not only had this ‘one and done’ piece been performed again, but there was a YouTube video memorializing the event.
It turned out that horn octets from the University of Texas Austin and Oklahoma State University gathered during the Mid-South Horn Workshop in February, 2016 to play Broughton’s Fanfare in the lobby of the OSU School of Music.
We could not help but laugh with delight as we watched the video.
Watch out, Andrey Kirillovich! Here we come!