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James Horner's "Collage: A Concerto for Four Horns and Orchestra"

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James Horner's new concert piece "Collage: A Concerto for Four Horns and Orchestra" will debut Friday, March 27, 2015 in London at the Royal Festival Hall, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jaime Martìn:


Among the soloists there are David Pyatt and James Thatcher

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It's interesting though. For a long time now John Williams is being accused of not stepping out of his comfort zone. So was Jerry from the 90's onwards, so was Barry, and so was Horner in the post Tit

30 sec. samples from all tracks:   Sounds lovely. How I wish he had included some selections from Krull... Still hurts he's gone

My half-assed theory is that he had personal demons that slowly took hold of him as he became a film music legend, a Faustian bargain if you like:   - a strong desire to be a successful seri

FSM Online posted this small description on its Facebook page:

We can exclusively reveal that James Horner's new concert work for French horns, titled 'Collage: A Quartet for Four Horns and Orchestra' is one movement at 20 minutes in length. It's beautifully lyrical and tonal, of course. Who better to write a concerto for horns?
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  • 1 year later...

Anyone planning on going?




The Houston Symphony celebrates the legacy of the late Oscar-winning film composer James Horner (Titanic, Avatar) with the North American premiere of Collage, his Concerto for Four Horns. The Houston Symphony is honored to present Horner's last completed concert work with renowned horn soloists including the Houston Symphony’s own William VerMeulen and Robert Johnson. Also on the program is swashbuckling film music from the Golden Age of Hollywood and Rachmaninoff’s brilliant Symphonic Dances.



Korngold: The Sea Hawk
James Horner: Concerto for Four      Horns and Orchestra
     North American Premiere, 
     Co-Commission of the 
     Houston Symphony and the 
     International Horn Society
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances


Michael Francis, conductor
David Pyatt, horn
William VerMeulen, horn
Richard Watkins, horn
Robert Johnson, horn


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James Horner

The Houston Symphony celebrates the legacy of the late Oscar-winning composer, James Horner.


Titanic. Avatar. Braveheart. Field of Dreams. Some of the biggest movies of the past 30 years have told their stories with the help of sweeping, colorful scores by the late James Horner. He entrusted some of their most poignant moments to the French horn: In Field of Dreams, for instance, the horn lent its glow to the first sight of the ballpark in the cornfield.

As the great horn parts accumulated, two veterans of Horner recording sessions, David Pyatt and Richard Watkins, began longing for something even juicier. They envisioned a Horner concerthall piece spotlighting the horn.

“His writing for horn was so unique, it needed to be done!” Pyatt recalls. Thus was born Collage: A Concerto for Four Horns, for which the Houston Symphony gives the U.S. premiere March 31-April 3. The orchestra’s Principal Horn, William VerMeulen, and Associate Principal, Robert Johnson, will share the solo roles with British guests Pyatt and Watkins.

Collage joins one of the orchestral repertoire’s tiniest niches: the four-horn concerto. The only example from a major composer is Robert Schumann’s Konzertstück, or Concert Piece, a blockbuster that VerMeulen and his Houston Symphony colleagues played in 1997 under conductor Christoph Eschenbach. Whereas the Konzertstück includes “incredibly virtuosic” horn parts, Watkins says, Collage sets a different tone.

“None of the parts require fiendish technical virtuosity,” Watkins explains. “It’s more a display of the instrument’s beautiful lyrical sound.”


“Pyatt says his favorite among the Horner scores he played is Iris…Watkins singles out Horner’s ‘typically lush, romantic score’ in For Greater Glory…”

Watkins, former principal horn of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, juggles a busy solo career with teaching at the Royal Academy of Music; Pyatt is the London Philharmonic’s principal horn. Like generations of top London musicians before them, they’re experienced hands at recording movie soundtracks. Pyatt says his favorite among the Horner scores he played is Iris, a 2001 biopic about British novelist Iris Murdoch; its chamber-ensemble score interweaves Pyatt’s horn and Joshua Bell’s violin. Watkins singles out Horner’s “typically lush, romantic score” in For Greater Glory, a 2012 war epic set in Mexico.

“His music gets to the emotional heart of a film, without complication or irrelevance,” Pyatt says.

At the time For Greater Glory was recorded, Watkins says, the International Horn Society—which promotes the instrument’s performance, study and repertoire—had been backing him in commissioning works. He turned to Horner.

“I thought James would be an ideal choice, with his obvious love of the instrument,” Watkins says. “Although he never played professionally, he studied the instrument. James was thrilled at the prospect, and several weeks later suggested a concerto for four horns and orchestra.”


The Houston Symphony’s Principal Horn, William VerMeulen.

There was one hitch, says VerMeulen, a former member of the Horn Society’s advisory council. Commissioning Horner to write a concerto was expensive, and the Society couldn’t quite cover the bill.

“I said, if I can get my orchestra to pitch in, can we secure the North American premiere rights?” VerMeulen recalls. “That in itself took some negotiating. The whole reason James was doing this was as a favor to his film horn players. He didn’t want it to be just a plain old project that any orchestra could get.”

But the deal fell into place, and the Houston Symphony gets “bragging rights. This is a big deal,” VerMeulen says. “The Schumann piece is such a singularity that having the North American premiere of another high-profile concerto for four horns is a huge feather in Houston’s cap.”

Horner gave the four-horn form his own spin, Watkins says, by treating the soloists as independent voices rather than a block, as in Schumann’s Konzertstück. Dividing the horns across both sides of the stage added a spatial element—most powerfully in the opening, where the soloists enter one by one “to stunning effect.”

Houston Symphony horn player Robert Johnson.

Houston Symphony horn player Robert Johnson.

Watkins, Pyatt and two other Horner veterans premiered Collage in March 2015 with the London Philharmonic. They recorded it in London last May, less than a month before Horner died in a crash of his private plane.

Now Collage arrives in the United States. Joining celebrated colleagues to introduce a major composer’s work will be a career milestone for the Houston Symphony’s Johnson.

“I dreamt of soloing with the Houston Symphony when I attended weekly concerts as a youngster at Rice University,” Johnson says. “For my dream to be realized in this fashion is beyond what I even imagined.”


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Not at all in the area, but I'd love to be able to attend.  Will you be going, Hlao-roo?


If only Williams could have concert pieces performed in such a low-key, frank style, without any silly theatrics being forced on the proceedings, or being shoehorned into a "pops" program.

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The Houston Symphony Orchestra is performing James Horner's Collage, Concerto for Four Horns this weekend and supposedly it will be listenable via 365thingsinhouston.com on April 1,2,3, 2016 . I missed the first broadcast March 31, 2016, did anyone catch it?



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  • 4 months later...

Tracklist as per FSM:


1 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Conquest Of The Air (From 'First In Flight') 05:24
2 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : The Ludlows (From 'Legends Of The Fall') 06:21
3 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : José's Martyrdom (From 'For Greater Glory') 03:58
4 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Kitty Hawk (From 'First In Flight') 10:06
5 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Little Wolf (From 'Wolf Totem') 03:41
6 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Return To The Wild 09:46
7 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Iris, Pt.1 (From 'Iris') 03:50
8 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Main Title & Ripley's Rescue (Aliens - Suite No.1) 11:30
9 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Pt.1 (Collage) 04:03
10 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Pt.2 (Collage) 04:03
11 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Pt.3 (Collage) 04:19
12 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Pt.4 (Collage) 03:43
13 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Pt.5 (Collage) 03:00
14 James Horner / Jaime Martin / LPO / David Arnold / RLPO / : Pt.6 (Collage) 02:53

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James Horner Online says:


After listening to the album in its entirety, we can say that the two pieces from First in Flight justify the purchase as an added bonus to the main work. They are sublime.




Can't wait!

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If you're referring to FIRST IN FLIGHT, no these are not the Horseman cues; they're from a 2012 short film. But I'm just as confused about all those Flight thingies he did in the last few years as anyone else, so join the club!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi all! I don't get over here much anymore and just happened to see this - I was at this concert and have a broadcast recording.


Feel free to PM - I myself am trying to locate a recording of JW with Houston in Dec. 2013 if someone could help..I thought I recorded that broadcast but had to move some data and lost it perhaps..


The concerto was a lovely piece and the horn players were incredible! Very glad we got the chance to see several horn stars all together...wish Horner could have heard them.


It's a more mellow work in mood than I expected maybe, but the horn writing is neat, we really enjoyed it and yes it totally deserves a proper recording!

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Apart from the horn piece, these two are probably the raison d'être for this pen-ultimate album. It's Horner for the umpteenth time rewriting (call it honing if you like) his favourite mellow americana licks with bits ranging from 'Cocoon' to more expansive-reflective 'Apollo 13'/'Deep Impact' reminiscences. It's either for people who love Horner or haven't heard much by him - it's easy to love but offers no new insight about the composer but that's no criticism at this point: it was his favourite idiom, he has the style down pat and it will play alongside or substitute similar works. It's sweet sentimentality might be the best final salute Horner could provide.

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That's of course mere whitewashing: i count myself a fan but it's hard to argue that Horner should have roamed a bit more freely in musicland. The very Hollywoodized americana idiom he reworked so tirelessly are maybe not unworthy of his talents but surely limited him in an unbecoming way. The man wrote 'Willow', one of the most daring clashs of musical styles written in 8 weeks that fantasy films ever got, so seeing him reduced to homespun sentimentality like these pieces has to be considered a bit of a waste.

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