horn hangouts

Tony Halstead Horn Hangout

Sarah Willis’ most recent Horn Hangout video to be archived is her discussion with acclaimed natural hornist Anthony Halstead. As someone who has done very little with the natural horn, this was a very interesting chat, and makes me wish I had some spare change to put toward a real valveless instrument!

Anthony Halstead – Variety is the Spice of (Musical) Life!

While probably best known for his natural horn playing, Anthony (Tony) Halstead has had quite a varied musical career. In addition to period horn playing (both as a soloist and orchestra member), he has also performed as a “modern horn” player (principal horn with the London Symphony!), a pianist/harpsichordist, and a conductor.

There are quite a few interesting little tidbits present in this interview. A few things to listen for:

  • Tony’s recording of “Fat Belly Blues” from the London Horn Sound CD “Give it One” is pretty amazing. If you want to hear horns do the big band thing, it’s a one-of-a-kind album. You can buy the album on Amazon or on iTunes, or you can listen to this one track on Youtube (but buy the album!) here:
  • 10:30 – Turns out that some of the crazy high parts in Haydn and other classical-era symphonies aren’t that difficult on the natural horn. Also, a pretty amusing anecdote from Sarah about a Bb basso/alto switch in a rehearsal with the Berlin Phil.
  • 12:50 – Tony is a self-described “natural low horn player”, but he discusses a bit about how he views playing the upper register.
  • 14:15 – Tony answers a question about teaching natural horn (right hand) technique to modern horn players. This translates into a very interesting (and important) discussion about right hand position at about 16:30.
  • 19:55 – Tony talks about PHC (Paxman-Halstead-Chidell) mouthpieces and the reason for their construction. As a mouthpiece nerd, this is pretty interesting. As an aside, apparently their were rumors going around that some PHC components are no longer available. If you are looking, you can buy PHC cups here and buy PHC rims here!
  • At around the 24-minute mark, they talk about Tony’s Mozart recordings. They are excellent (Sarah says that these are her favorite!) and are well worth a listen, even if you’re not a natural horn fan. You can find Tony’s recording of the Mozart concertos with Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music on Amazon, ArkivMusic, or iTunes.
  • Tony talks about the preparation and recording of the Weber Concertino on natural horn at 28:30. Instead of months or weeks, he got hours notice! That recording can be found here, and it’s worth a listen!
  • At 34 minutes Tony elaborates on the benefits of natural horn playing to articulation and slurs/harmonic series work on the modern horn.
  • At 43:30 he talks about exercises for the low register.
  • Of course, there is lots more – make sure to watch the whole thing below!

Without further ado, here is the complete Horn Hangout with Anthony Halstead: