As promised, here is the interview Sarah Friswell did with one of this week's guest artists, Anne Howarth! I am always so excited to get these interviews in and see what two people from two different parts of our lives have to say!
SF: Before we truly begin, could you tell us a little about yourself?
AH: I’m a classically trained horn player who teaches and performs throughout the Boston area, and I am ridiculously lucky to be able to work with such talented, creative, supportive artists as those of Monkeyhouse. I play orchestra music, chamber music, and a bit of solo music. I’ve dabbled in jazz, though only the chart reading part. I teach horn and chamber music at Tufts, U Mass Boston, the Brookline Music School, in the Milton public schools, and at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. I’m a budding vegetable gardener, I love to travel, I love good, flavorful food, and I’m fascinated by people.
SF: What is your history with Monkeyhouse?
AH: My husband and I went to a Valentine’s Day concert at CMAC somewhere towards the beginning of our courtship, and we stopped to talk with Jason and Karen after the show (thanks to free ice cream provided by J.P. Licks). We got to know Karen and Jason over several years of dance shows and social events. We have been devoted fans ever since, and in the past year or two my role has expanded to include participation in some spork-type events and occasional performances with the group. Most recently, I played for a couple of pieces at 2011.
SF: Could you tell us a little more about your experience performing with Monkeyhouse at Art Beat and First Night?
AH: Art Beat was my first experience performing with the group, and it was wonderful and strange compared with my musical performing experience. It was informative (it turns out that dancers walk the floor of a space to get a feel for it in the same way that I play to test the acoustics before beginning a performance), and it was joyous in a physical way (classical musicians may feel joyous, but we tend only to express it through our playing, to at most our eyebrows). I am used to thinking of performance clothes (black, anyone?) and not costumes (which are a whole lot more fun but a whole lot more work to keep track of). Our First Night performances included my improvisation debut and a solo horn performance in front the largest audience for which I have ever played solo. The energy of the group was high but focused and the performances were all generous and fulfilling.
SF: What is your favorite type of music to play and perform?
AH: Chamber music, without a doubt. Also happy music. And music that tells a story.
SF: Have you always played music for dance?
AH: I have played operas, big bands, and a little Javanese Gamelan, but I had never worked with dancers before Monkeyhouse. You didn’t ask if I have any dance experience! I took a modern dance class my last semester of college and fell in love with it. I promised myself I would continue taking classes, but I went to grad school in music and never got back to dance. It has been great fun to explore movement again – I’m looking forward to the Improv Partnering Workshop that is part of Against the Odds on Saturday!
SF: How has your music changed since you began working with dancers?
AH: As musicians, we talk a lot about the motion and direction of phrases, the push and pull, the balance. After working with dancers, and especially after participating in the movement on stage, I feel these concepts in a different, more visceral way. You can actually hear it in my playing. I’ve just taken an audition for the Boston Symphony, and the first required piece was a Courante from one of Bach’s solo cello suites (transcribed for horn). I built a dance for the piece, which not only brought more depth of expression to my playing, but imagining the dance in my head while I was on-stage auditioning brought me focus and helped me stay calm under intense pressure. It was the first time I’ve felt truly relaxed and free in an audition.
SF: Is the french horn the only instrument you play/have played? If not, what else have you played?
AH: I played piano when I was young, but playing the horn in a pretty full time occupation!
SF: What are you plans after Against the Odds?
AH: My woodwind quintet, Vento Chiaro, is working with the Boston Composer’s Coalition on a concert of entirely new works written just for our group. We’ll perform them April 16 & 17. My students in Milton are giving a recital for their families on April 26th. I am the outreach director for my mixed instrument chamber group, Radius Ensemble, and we are performing a family concert at the Cambridge Public Library on April 30th. Karen and I have more work to do with our horn/dance chamber ensemble – stay tuned for more information! Also, my vegetable garden really needs to be turned over so I can plant my early season crops!
Against the Odds:
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!
Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.