Today I played with a horn choir and had a great time. The last time I can remember playing with a horn choir was at the IHS Horn Conference in 1972. All the participants were divided up into four choirs, which performed at the final concert. It was such a large group that it was interesting, but not that rewarding to play. If I remember correctly it was a four-part piece, with about 20 people on each part.
Sometime since 1972 horn choir has evolved. The music we read today included several arrangements recorded by the London Horn Sound and the Vienna Horns. These pieces have many parts, some as many as 16 separate parts, and include popular music. We read Titanic, Bohemian Rhapsody, Petrushka, Gabrieli, Bach, etc. It is a lot of fun to play.
Besides the fun of playing these arrangements, the horn players were so friendly and supportive of each other. I have horn player friends from college and post-college, but there was always a lot of competition between players. I'm sure that still exists, but I see in the university horn studio that my daughter is part of, as well as studios in other colleges that we visited while deciding on a college for her, a lot more collaborative work and a lot more mutual support. It makes college a less stressful place and promotes peer sharing and learning, all positive things. Yes, my daughter and her peers will be competing against each other for jobs, summer music programs, spots in grad school. So far she seems to be handling the competitive aspect gracefully.
Here is the London Horn Sound playing Bohemian Rhapsody.