Pardon their French horns: Live music returns with Horns A-Plenty concert

It’s set to be a brassy affair.

Juneau Community Bands will return to live, in-person music with their Horns A-Plenty concert on Sunday following a pandemic-induced break on indoor performances.

“This is actually our first post-COVID performance,” said Juneau Community Bands President Sarah McNair-Grove. “It’s really neat. When we come to rehearsals, the players are so excited. Some of us haven’t seen each other in two years.”

The concert, which will be conducted by Juneau music staple William Todd Hunt, will feature a movement from “Double Concerto for 2 Horns and Wind Ensemble” by Michael Boyman, “Serenade for Winds” by Richard Strauss, “Sinfonia” by Gaetano Donizetti and “Overture for Winds” by Felix Mendelssohn, according to the community bands’ website.

The Boyman piece premiered on March 6, 2020, with the Chelsea Symphony. There have not been many opportunities for the piece to be performed live for an audience in the ensuing years, and members of the Juneau ensemble that will be bringing a movement from it to Thunder Mountain High School expressed excitement about it.

Musicians who will perform in the upcoming Horns a Plenty concert rehearse in Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School. The Sunday concert will mark one of the largest live music performances in Juneau in two years. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Musicians who will perform in the upcoming Horns a Plenty concert rehearse in Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School. The Sunday concert will mark one of the largest live music performances in Juneau in two years. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

“This is a crazy piece,” said Bill Paulick, one of two featured French horn soloists, who went on to compare it to the famously labyrinthine Winchester Mystery House.

Paulick explained the piece includes elements of other well-known compositions that showcase French horn, but they’re deployed in surprising ways and with additional accompaniment.

“The third movement, called ‘The Hunt,’ is an homage and sendup of the 6/8 hunting finale found in many past horn concertos, especially those of Mozart,” states a description of the work on Boyman’s website. “These past examples are jolly without exception and, aside from brief minor-key episodes, carefree throughout.

Kristina Paulick, Bill’s daughter and another horn soloist to be featured in the upcoming concert, said it’s a challenging piece, but the familiarity of some of it makes things slightly easier.

“The Taku Winds is doing a fantastic job, and I just love playing with dad, so this is really great,” Kristina Paulick said.

Kristina Paulick and Bill Paulick share a lighthearted moment during a break in playing.

Kristina Paulick and Bill Paulick share a lighthearted moment during a break in playing.

Bill Paulick predicted that once more ensembles are able to play the piece, it will become a popular selection. But for now, Juneau will be one of the few non-New York City locales where it’s been performed live. If the initial performance is well received, Bill Paulick said there may be plans to perform the piece, which includes two other movements in its entirety.

The other selections are similarly ebullient.

“It’s fun lighthearted music,” Bill Paulick said. “It’s not really heavy-duty classical stuff.”

Bill Paulick places his fingers on his horn’s key levers during rehearsal for an upcoming Horns a Plenty concert. (Ben Hohenstat / Juneau Empire)

Bill Paulick places his fingers on his horn’s key levers during rehearsal for an upcoming Horns a Plenty concert. (Ben Hohenstat / Juneau Empire)

Plus, Kristina Paulick said she knows many in the community have been watching concerts remotely or listening to performances on the radio and have had their appetites whetted for live, in-person performances.

“I know a lot of those folk are just itching to see something in person,” Kristina Paulick said. “This is a really great opportunity to come support a local group and support local musicians and experience something live.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907) 308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

Know & Go:

What: Horns A-Plenty

When: 3 p.m., Sunday, March 20

Where: Thunder Mountain High School auditorium, 310 Dimond Park Loop.

Admission: Tickets cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Student tickets cost $5. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books, the Juneau Arts and Culture Center and online through the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council’s website and at the door.

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