Western Hornist

2017 Western Horn Festival

Hosted by Randall E. Faust

Western Illinois University held its annual Horn Festival on April 2, 2017.

Since 2002, the Western Illinois Horn Institute has brought outstanding hornists to the Western Illinois University campus as guest soloists and clinicians—for the Western Illinois Horn Festival. This year we had the good fortune of hosting some very special guests. These included Greg Beckwith, James Naigus, Chad Walker, Lee Kessinger, and Robert Palmer. Greg Beckwith is a most accomplished horn player, and has played professionally around the world and as an extra/substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, and principal horn of The Rochester (MN) Symphony Orchestra. Furthermore, he is an Instructor in the Instrument Repair program at Minnesota State College at RED WING. During the course of the weekend, Greg shared his experiences as a hornist (and Wagner tubist) with the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Opera, the study of Horn-building, and as a clinician with Western Illinois University's Resident Instrument Technician Chad Walker in a session on "How to Keep your Horn out of the Shop!"

This year the Western Illinois Horn Festival featured the work of Guest Composer James Naigus. Dr. Naigus, who has been honored as a composer by the International Horn Society and the Southeast Horn Workshop, conducted his composition JUBILEE with the Western Illinois Festival Horn Choir, performed as a Solo Hornist in his own Solstice for Horn and Piano , and presented a clinic on modal etude study: Etudes ‘a la Modes. In addition, his composition-- Journey's Call for Two Horns and Piano — was performed on the opening recital by Western Hornists Ethan Nueva and Emily Maze.

Ms. Lee Kessinger — Horn Instructor at Augustana College—performed works for the Alphorn with her student Laura Reed. In addition, she provided participating Hornists with an opportunity to have their first Alphorn lesson with her.

A SPECIAL GUEST of the FESTIVAL was our own Robert Palmer. Currently, he is the Director of Athletic Bands at Alderson Broaddus University in Philippi, West Virginia. We are proud to have Robert back as our featured Horn Alumnus this year. Robert received both his Bachelor's and Masters Degrees from WIU, and first attended the Western Illinois Horn Festival of student of Lee Kessinger when he was in High School. This year, Robert performed as a Guest Recitalist with his own student at Alderson Broaddus University-- Elliott Mihelic. As a result, three generations of Western Illinois Horn Festival Hornists appeared at the Festival!

Several special aspects of the Festival included a Master Class on standard Solo and Orchestral repertoire with Randall Faust — including performances by Roger Collins Award recipients Laura Reed and Rachel Mattson; a performance of Richard Bissill's Fat Belly Blues by Western Hornist Tyler Davis—accompanied by WIU Faculty bassist Matt Hughes, Faculty percussionist Kevin Nichols, and WIU Pianist Minjung Seo; and rousing performances by members of the Western Illinois University Horn Ensemble and the WESTERN ILLINOIS FESTIVAL HORN CHOIR—featuring outstanding performances by Western Illinois University Hornists including Phillip Mallender, Julie Jacobs, Tyler Davis, William Kjeldsen, Ethan Nueva, Emily Maze, Lisa Hallen, Wesley Hunt, Kamron Wilson, and David DeRamus.

THE WESTERN ILLINOIS HORN FESTIVAL is THE MAIN EVENT of the year for Hornists in this region. Mark Your Calendars now for the WESTERN ILLINOIS HORN FESTIVAL 2018—April 15, 2018.

Since 2002, the Western Illinois Horn Institute has brought a number of outstanding hornists to the Western Illinois University campus as guest soloists and clinicians—for the Western Illinois Horn Festival.

These include Grammy-winning recording artists from Los Angeles to Nashville, International Horn Competition winners, distinguished horn professors from major universitites, period instrument specialists, jazz hornists, authors, composers, world-class chamber musicians and orchestral hornists from orchestras as diverse as the Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras.

In fact in 2009, when the Western Illinois Horn Institute hosted the International Horn Symposium, artists from as far away as Stockholm, Sweden, and Tokyo, Japan included among the featured performers. The result has been the opportunity for many young hornists of the Western Illinois region to hear and work with hornists of national and international stature. Photos and programs documenting some of this history can be seen at the Western Illinois Horn Website at www.wiu.edu/cofac/horn

This year the Western Illinois Horn Institute will hold its annual Western Illinois Horn Festival on Sunday, April 2, 2017.

Greg Beckwith


Greg is an accomplished horn player, and has played professionally around the world and as an extra/substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra. He continues to perform in Minnesota as a freelance musician and is principal horn of The Rochester (MN) Symphony Orchestra. He graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy and studied with Verne Reynolds at Eastman and Roland Pandolfi in St. Louis.

Furthermore, he is an Instructor in the Instrument Repair program at Minnesota State College at RED WING. He has been involved with the repair program at Red Wing Since 1996 and has been teaching full-time at the college since 2003.

Greg is a member of NAPBIRT and as a master clinician has presented clinics for conferences regionally and nationally. He has also given presentations on maintenance and emergency repair for band directors and musicians at The Midwest Clinic's International Band and Orchestra Conferences, Minnesota Music Educators Association conferences, and International Horn Society symposiums — including the 41st International Horn Symposium held at Western Illinois University in 2009.

Mr. Beckwith is a 1992 graduate of the BIR program at Red Wing and has a B.S. degree in technical education from Bemidji State University. For further concentrated study he spent time in Oslo, Norway learning horn building from Daniel Rauch of Rauch Horns.

Our own Chad Walker will join Mr. Beckwith for a session at 10:30 on Sunday morning: "How to Keep your Horn out of the Shop!"

Chad Walker

Chad Walker

Chad has been a professional wind instrument repair technician since 1995, specializing in both woodwind and brass instruments. Since 2007, Chad has been on staff at Western Illinois University, maintaining the School of Music instruments and teaching instrument repair seminars. In addition to his full-time work at the university, Chad has operated Walker Pro Wind Service since 1999, where he offers specialty repairs and rebuilding services, including certified Straubinger flute repairs. Previously, Chad managed the repair department for The Music Shoppe in Champaign-Urbana, repairing large quantities of instruments from the area including the University of Illinois.

Chad holds a music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and an instrument repair degree from Badger State Repair in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Prior to becoming a technician, Chad worked as a cruise ship musician out of Miami, Florida. Chad lives in Macomb, IL with his wife (Dr. Tammie Walker, Director of the WIU School of Music) and their 4 children.

James Naigus


James is an accomplished composer for the Horn, and will be presenting three of his own works on the Festival this weekend. In addition, he will be presenting a session on modal study for the young student: Etudes ‘a la Modes at 3pm on Sunday.

Naigus' compositions have been performed throughout the United States and beyond, with enthusiastic reception and rave review. In 2013 he was the Composer-in-Residence at the Southeast Horn Workshop in Richmond, VA. In 2009 he was awarded an honorable mention award in the International Horn Society Composition Contest, selected from 85 entries spread over 16 nations. He has written commercial compositions for clients such as Google, University of Michigan, University of Florida, and University of Iowa. He is currently published by RM Williams Publishing and Veritas Musica Publishing.

As a member of staff at the prestigious Kendall Betts Horn Camp for the last two years, Naigus has designed and taught an aural harmony music theory course. Over the last several years he has also co-developed and taught a general music course at the University of Iowa entitled "Creativity in Music." This course is an exploration into how and why music works through critical listening, composition, and improvisation. Additional teaching interests include music theory, concert and commercial composition, and film music.

Dr. James Naigus, most recently the Visiting Assistant Professor of Horn at the University of Iowa, is a performer and composer of broadening recognition. He studied horn with Jeffrey Agrell at the University of Iowa, studied horn and composition with Paul Basler at the University of Florida during his master's degree, and while attending the University of Michigan for his undergraduate degree studied with Soren Hermansson, Bryan Kennedy, and Adam Unsworth.

He is currently third horn with the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra, and has played with Orchestra Iowa, Brevard Symphony Orchestra, Gainesville Chamber Orchestra, Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, Ocala Symphony Orchestra, Oskaloosa Symphony Orchestra, Adrian Symphony Orchestra, Dearborn Symphony Orchestra. He has toured Europe in 2014 and South America in 2011 as a member of the American Chamber Winds. Naigus has been a guest clinician and composer-in-residence at American Horn Quartet founder David Johnson's summer workshop in Daytona Beach for several years. He has also performed on recitals at the 2014 MidNorth Horn Workshop, 2013 Midwest Horn Workshop, the 2016, 2014 and 2013 Southeast Horn Workshops, and the 2015 and 2013 International Horn Symposiums.

Robert Palmer


A SPECIAL GUEST of the FESTIVAL will be our own Robert Palmer. Currently, he is the Director of Athletic Bands at Alderson Broaddus University in Philippi, West Virginia. His duties include directing the marching band and pep bands, and assisting with the jazz band.

Robert is an active composer, conductor, and hornist around West Virginia. He has performed with several groups, including the Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra, Knox-Galesburg Symphony Orchestra, and Quincy Symphony Orchestra. He graduated from Western Illinois University with a Master's degree in music performance and a Bachelor's degree in music composition. At WIU, he was active with several areas in the School of Music, including the band, choral, composition, and orchestra departments. He has taken horn lessons from Daniel Katzen, Dr. Randall Faust since 2005, and Lee Kessinger prior to that. His composition teachers include Drs. James Caldwell, Paul Paccione, and James Romig. 

Ms. Lee Kessinger


One of our regular "Guests in Residence" will appear again this year:

Ms. Lee Kessinger will perform on the 1 Pm Recital. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Augustana College, and she has taught horn lessons at St. Ambrose University, Western Illinois University during Dr. Randall Faust's sabbatical, and is currently teaching at Augustana College. Lee has been teaching horn in her home studio for 32 years. She performs with the Quad City Wind Ensemble, the Clinton Symphony Orchestra, Opera Quad Cities, and Quad City Music Guild. She is a member of the Iowa Bandmasters Association and the International Horn Society. In 2009, she presented classes on Alphorn playing at the 41st International Horn Symposium — and regularly performs on the Alphorn at the Western Illinois Horn Festival. Lee especially enjoys playing her horn and alphorns at various churches in the area. Lee is married to Bill, an oboist and retired high school band director, and they reside in East Moline, Illinois.

(Due to the passing of his father, Willard Brask, Aaron Brask will not be appearing at this year’s Horn Festival. We send our condolences to Aaron and his family.)


APRIL 2, 2017

Presented by

The Western Illinois Horn Institute

Western Illinois University


8:00 Guest Artist Rehearsals—COFAC Recital Hall

9:00 Registration—COFAC Recital Hall Lobby

10:30 — Clinic and Commentary with Greg Beckwith

And Chad Walker:

“How to Keep your Horn out of the Shop!”

(Browne Hall 220)

1:00 Matinee Recital –WIU Hornists and Guests

2:00 Master Class—Randall Faust

3:00 Lecture and Clinic—Etudes ‘a la Modes—James Naigus

4:00 Festival Horn Ensemble Rehearsals

7:30 Recital— Guest Hornists, WIU Hornists, and Festival Horn Choir

For more information about the Western Illinois Horn Festival contact Randall E. Faust at RE-Faust@wiu.edu, 216 A Browne Music Hall, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455. Phone: (309) 298-1300 or the Western Illinois Horn Website: www.wiu.edu/cofac/horn