Western Hornist

Western Illinois Horn Festival 2017

Sunday, 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.


Greg Beckwith

Chad Walker  

Chad Walker


James Naigus


Robert Palmer


Ms. Lee Kessinger

Special Guests at the Western Illinois Horn Festival 2017