​ASU International Students Travel to Global Conference  

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music students photo
ASU Music majors Wanja Nganga, Shaka Marko Lwaki and Vitalis Wagome with featured guest artist Robert Reardon from the National Symphony Orchestra.



By Hazel Scott/ASU

 ​Three i​nternational music students from Alabama State University traveled to Florida to attend the Southeast Horn Workshop (SEHW) at the University of Central Florida. The conference is one of the largest regional conferences in the country for French horn players.

 Attending were seniors Vitalis Wagome and Wanja Nganga, and freshman Shaka Marko Lwaki, all from Nairobi, Kenya. Their travel was made possible through a generous Curriculum Enhancement Award presented by The Alabama State University Office of Academic Affairs to the students’ horn teacher, Dr. Brenda Luchsinger.  

 “The award assisted with the costs of the conference attendance, travel, and housing, along with a new set of mutes and accessories for the horn studio,” said Dr. Carly Johnson, chair of the Department of Music.

 The SEHW, drew hundreds of horn players, ranging from high school and college students to professionals were in attendance and featured performances by Puerto Rican hornist Joshua Pantoja, Canadian hornist Allene Hackleman, Robert Reardon of the National Symphony in Washington D.C., and the Alloy Horn Quartet, an all-female horn quartet. The conference also featured recitals by area professionals, professors, and collegiate horn ensembles, as well as various presentations and competitions.

 Alabama State University was well-represented throughout the weekend with ASU freshman​ ​Lwaki competing in the Collegiate Solo Competition — the most popular competition — with a group of more than 30 competitors. Later, Students Vitalis, Wanja, and Shaka,  presented a session, The Horn in Kenya..

 “The session focused on the short history of horn players in Kenya, and the growth and popularity of the instrument over the past decade. The students spoke about how they were largely self-taught in Kenya and about the various orchestras and music foundations in Nairobi, Kenya. The stories and insight into the classical music scene in Nairobi and its surrounding areas were both fascinating and moving to the audience, and the session was mentioned many times in conversations throughout the weekend,” said Johnson.

 The Alabama State University horn studio also performed in a collaborative performance with the University of Florida, where Luchsinger performed Rhumba Pembeni, a piece composed by ASU freshman, Shaka Marko, her first composition for horn and piano.

“The title loosely translates to ‘rhumba for French horn’ and is based on the traditional Kenyan rhumba. After the performance, Shaka was approached by many of the horn players at the conference who were interested in performing his piece in future recitals,” said Johnson.

The event culminated with Luchsinger  giving a presentation about the Suzuki Method for Horn, a type of music education that focuses on teaching young children.