The Eastman Summer Horn Institute (class of 2022 pictured above) is a great program for participants wanting to dedicate a full week to solidify the craft of horn playing under the instruction of world-class faculty: Peter Kurau, Professor of Horn, Eastman School of Music/Principal Horn, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; Nikolette LaBonte, Associate Principal/Assistant Principal/Utility Horn, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; and Elizabeth Freimuth, Principal Horn, Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras.
In preparation for Summer@Eastman 2023, Marketing Assistant Joyce Tseng talked with institute faculty Nikolette LaBonte to learn more about the program. Nikki is enjoying an especially exciting year, performing as guest Principal Horn with the New York Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in addition to her work with the RPO. We look forward to hearing all about her experiences when she’s back on campus this summer!
JT: What are the objectives and focus of the Eastman Summer Horn Institute?
NL: Our goal at the horn institute is to provide students with the opportunity to find their own voice on the horn, and the way we do that is by focusing on the fundamentals of horn playing! By prioritizing exercises and practice that will improve students’ overall technique and ability on the horn, students are then able to convey more freely and eloquently their own artistry, expressive intent, and inherent musicianship to the audience and to themselves. In short, we are putting the FUN back in fundamentals!
JT: Who should apply to this workshop?
NL: Anyone and everyone high school age and above who’s looking to improve their horn playing! Our faculty have lots of experience with all ages and abilities on the horn, and we know that everyone’s approach to playing and learning is different. During your week, we will adapt our teaching to meet your needs and goals and determine the best paths to success.
JT: What is a sample day like?
NL: We try to keep every day different at the institute so that we can avoid any semblance of monotony and cover a wide variety of topics, but here’s a good example from last year! You’ll start the day with a guided warm-up from Professor Kurau, then you might have a lesson with Ms. Freimuth in the next hour or maybe coaching with Ms. LaBonte on your solo repertoire! After lunch, you’ll have a group fundamentals session with Professor Kurau, a masterclass where you’ll have a chance to play solos, excerpts, or etudes for the faculty (or one of our esteemed guest faculty), and small ensemble coachings. Finally, in the evening, you’ll attend a faculty recital featuring all our faculty, teaching assistant, and our institute pianists!
JT: Are private lessons included in the program?
NL: Yes, each participant will receive three private lessons–one with each of our faculty members. You’ll also have the opportunity to be coached on solos with our institute pianists and have a chance to perform on participant recitals at the end of the week both as a soloist and in large and small student ensembles. Lesson and performance opportunities abound at the Summer Horn Institute!
JT: What repertoire should participants prepare?
NL: Whatever repertoire you’re working on! We recommend bringing a selection of solos, etudes, and excerpts but our faculty have a huge wealth of knowledge about a wide range of music. Any piece you’re working on that you’d like to improve is a piece you should bring to the institute!
JT: What unique opportunities will be offered?
NL: We are still working on finalizing plans for the summer, but previous institutes have included guest faculty presentations on freelancing and chamber music performance, individual rehearsals with our institute pianists where students can learn the nuts and bolts of playing with piano and what your accompanist needs from you, and a historic horn night that gives students the opportunity to learn about and play centuries-old instruments!
The Eastman Summer Horn Institute runs July 31-August 4, 2023. Participants are chosen by audition (high school students) or résumé review (collegiate students and adults). Visit our website for more information.