NATCHITOCHES – Josh Waldrop is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to getting a musical education. The Northwestern State University student is seeking out opportunities to perform in ensembles, arrange music and conduct while working toward a degree.
The NSU Horn Choir will perform a Waldrop arrangement when it performs Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Dr. Kristine Coreil directs the choir. Waldrop will conduct his arrangement of Richard Strauss’ “Sonnenaufgang,” a piece best known for being in the soundtrack of the film “2001 Space Odyssey.”
“The piece was written for full orchestra and as the arranger, I have to find out which instrument in the ensemble matches up with parts in the piece,” said Waldrop, a senior music performance major from Benton who is graduating in May. “For example, the French horn is most like the organ.”
Waldrop said he has learned to arrange through regular practice, which includes carefully analyzing all types of music to learn how a piece is put together.
“Arranging is fun and entertaining. You go through the original manuscript of the work and determine what lines are important,” said Waldrop. “For the piece for the Horn Choir, I had to be sure that the horns don’t lose their distinct characteristics and when you hear a solo, you know it’s a solo. You show what’s important through the instrument of choice.”
Waldrop has been a member of the Horn Choir, the Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band, the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony, the NSU Wind Ensemble and several brass ensembles. He plays with two groups, the Red River Valley Band, which plays pre-1950s jazz and country and the Wall Chargers which performs a mix of rock, jazz, Western and Spanish music
“The more pieces of music you play, the more you are exposed to how composers write for different instruments,” said Waldrop. “Each composer has a their own idea. The way Beethoven writes for horn differs from how Mahler does it.”
Waldrop’s primary instrument is French horn, but he also plays trumpet and classical guitar.
“The French horn has the most unique timbre, which is a distinct characteristic of sound,” he said. “It is the most like the human voice and can be bold, brassy, smooth or even harsh if you want it to be. I encourage fellow students to play in as many ensembles as they possibly can and to play as many instruments as they can. Don’t play with just one ensemble.”
The Horn Choir will perform works by Beethoven, Burton Hardin, Ronald Lo Presti, James Naigus, Lowell Shaw and John Barrows.