Calling All Horns: French Horn Playing in the Pioneer Valley (2017)

This project, produced by Patrick Williams, focuses on the robust community of French horn (horn) players in the Pioneer Valley, who range in experience and proficiency from students to teachers, from amateurs to professionals.

There has long been a thriving community of horn players in the Pioneer Valley, especially in Belchertown and Amherst, where a supportive cohort of horn players is long established. The horn allows players to be both musically and socially flexible, despite the slim possibilities of sustaining a living purely from playing. Having chosen to show mainly seasoned players, this project highlights the storied relationships of those who have been in the valley for longer than many younger players have been alive.

The rare, odd concentration of horn players in the valley has long been a point of interest for me. The horn, an instrument that finds itself economically and socially inaccessible due to its esoteric nature, brings players together through the special shared experience of overcoming the difficulty of the instrument. Further facilitating this camaraderie is the literature available to horn players, affording us the luxury of playing not only among ourselves, but also finding a home in many other musical contexts.