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French horns get the spotlight

West End musician to show off French horn skills

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Often at the back of the orchestra, the French horn will finally get a chance to be the star of the show.

Patricia Evans, the principal horn player in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, will be one of four French horn players making music in the Four Horns & Beethoven concert at the Centennial Concert Hall (555 Main St.) on Jan. 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. They will also be playing a third concert at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m.

The other three horn players are Kenneth MacDonald, Caroline Oberheu, and Michiko Singh.

The concert will be divided into two parts.

"In the first half, we’ll be playing a piece by Schumann called "Konzertstück." It’s basically a concerto for four horns," Evans, 40, said. "The second half of the program is Beethoven’s Third Symphony."

Evans, who lives in the West End, is pleased to be able to showcase the French horn as the main instrument, as it is often being played behind other instruments.

"It’ll be interesting for people to see the horns and hear the variety of sounds that we can make on the horn," Evans said.

Evans describes the French horn’s sound as heroic.

"I think it’s just the tone quality. If you push it, it gives it an edge. A lot of times in movies, the hero in the movie has a theme song that will be played on the horn. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker’s theme is played on the horn," Evans said.

Originally from Bakersfield, Vt., Evans has been playing the French horn since she was 10 years old, saying she just liked the way the instrument sounded. Her parents were both music teachers, so they were a big musical influence on her. She attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio and McGill University in Montreal, Que.

"You have to really get into it, and you can’t really mess around with too many other things if you want to be a professional musician. You have to put all of your effort into that pursuit," Evans said.

Evans said she spends a lot of her time practising for concerts. The WSO musicians typically receive their music sheets about three weeks in advance. However, Evans is trying to incorporate other things into her life as well, including exercise.

"I try to do things that keep me physically fit because that helps my playing," Evans said.

She ran the Credit Union Queen City Marathon in Regina this past September, and she recently started playing hockey.

"I also have two dogs so I spend a lot of time with them. We do a lot of walking," Evans said.

For more information about the Four Horns & Beethoven concert, visit wso.ca or call 204-949-3999.

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