Tennessee Tech Music Professor pens audition handbook

Arthur LaBar, professor of music at Tennessee Technological University, saw a specific need in the music world and saw himself as the one to fill it.

LaBar's colleagues told him music professionals lacked a concise collection of musical selections appropriate for auditions in the world's leading opera and ballet houses. In response, LaBar recently published "Hornist's Opera and Ballet Handbook," a selection of 38 popular audition pieces for professional horn players.

For the book, LaBar used a grant from Tennessee Tech's Office of Research to survey opera and ballet houses around the world to determine the pieces typically used for auditions. Once he identified the pieces to include, LaBar sought the full text of each composition.

"Many of these scores were extremely hard to find," says LaBar, "especially those that are popular in Europe but hardly ever performed in North America. In some cases, I couldn't find any score at all and had to rely on parts sent to me by performers."

When he began editing the scores, some of which are over a thousand pages long, LaBar turned to Howard T. Howard, a leading operatic horn player and member of New York's Metropolitan Opera, for aid. Among other contributions, Howard wrote performance notes for the book's margins to guide musicians.

The Horn Call, the journal of the International Horn Society, gave LaBar's book high praise. A reviewer wrote, "With the purchase of the 'Handbook,' the value of your investment soars with both a collection of important excerpts and critical advice!...Every hornist who intends to delve into this great literature should own a copy."

Phoenix Music Publications in the Netherlands published the "Handbook" in August. LaBar's first book, "Horn Player's Audition Handbook," published in 1986, went into a second printing last summer.

Area audiences can hear LaBar demonstrate his horn expertise in two upcoming concerts. The Cumberland Quintet, a Tennessee Tech faculty woodwind and brass ensemble, performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6. LaBar will give a horn concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9.

Both performances are free and take place at Wattenbarger Auditorium. For more information, call the Department of Music and Art at 615/372-3161.