Classical improvisation, as opposed to jazz improvisation, is a way to create spontaneous music by one or more players using techniques and devices common in classical music. It has not been a part of most college programs, but Western Michigan University horn professor Lin Foulk thinks it should be.
After a year-long sabbatical to study and practice classical improvisation, Foulk returned to teaching with the goal of giving her students the tools to improvise. She invites her horn students to join her for "Friday Fun": to leave their sheet music behind, and show up with just their horns and their ears. Improvisations can start with an image, a melodic idea, or any number of tricks to trigger the imagination.
Horn players Jen Kempe, Jeremy Larson, Kirstie Keill, and Nicole Vanden Bosch play for WMUK's microphones in a "Friday Fun" studio session of improvised music. They also perform a non-improvised work, the Horn Quartet by Anthony Plog. Incredibly challenging to the musicians, the piece may become a new modern classic of chamber music.
In August, Dr. Foulk will bring her students to the 2015 International Horn Symposium in Los Angeles to perform and demonstrate classical improvisation.