Come Hear the French Horn Sunday at Holy Innocents’

Mar 05, 2018
French horn player Bruce Heim.

The spring concert series at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Beach Haven kicks off this Sunday, March 11, with a concert by French horn player Bruce Heim, who is traveling from Kentucky to perform his program, “Old, New, Borrowed and Blue.” Heim said he hopes the audience will come away from the experience with “a smile.”

“I’m just hoping they go away and think, ‘That was fun,’ and ‘I didn’t realize the horn had so many colors to it.’”

Heim’s program will be varied, with a lot of nice contrast, he said, from an early-1800s sonata by Cherubini to a composition written in 2000 by Esa-Pekka Salonenon, with some Leonard Bernstein and blues numbers in between.

He will include a video component “to make it interesting from an auditory and visual point of view.”

This weekend will be Heim’s first return to Long Beach Island since childhood, when his family vacationed here in the 1960s. He said he is eager to see how things have changed in the decades since. He hopes to return again this summer with his wife, Carmen Irons, to enjoy a more leisurely visit.

He was raised in Bethlehem, Pa., and formally trained at the Juilliard School in New York City. The music business took him to a few different states before he settled in Kentucky, where he teaches at the University of Louisville and performs in the Louisville Orchestra.

He described the orchestra work as “very rewarding” in that “students can come and get some inspiration.” He had always taught, even in a peer-to-peer capacity, and got more serious about teaching in the ’90s, he said. At that time, he was a full-time symphony orchestra musician in Oklahoma, but then he made teaching his focus and kept the orchestra work as more of a part-time occupation.

Irons is a cello player and teaches the Suzuki method to youngsters, he said. From time to time they have the opportunity to play together, such as in a chamber music event this past weekend. “She really understands the musical life,” he said.

Surf City resident and classical music enthusiast Barbara Wheeler invited Heim to perform. The two were colleagues at the University of Louisville. Wheeler described Heim as “a really fine horn player with an international reputation and also a very interesting person.”

Though his music education included piano and some other fundamentals, the French horn has been his main instrument ever since he switched from trumpet as a teen.

He said the better question is not what makes a musician choose a certain instrument but, rather, what makes him stick with it. For him, at first, it was the French horn’s looks that attracted him;  then, to some extent, the horn’s reputation for being an especially challenging instrument motivated him; and finally, the sound – “what it can do, what you’ve heard it do,” he said – became the real reason he fell in love with it.

I'm looking forward to my visit to LBI, and so are a couple of my cousins, who will be there,” Heim said. “It's going to be a very special trip for me.”

The concert begins at 4 p.m.  —V.F.

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