Growing up in a musical household, Martin Mangrum was inspired to play horn by his older brother. “When I was 10 years old, I started taking piano lessons and a few months later I had to pick an instrument for my music class at FACE School in Montreal,” he explains.
“At the time, my older brother Brian, who is now the new principal horn of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, had only been playing horn for six months. He could barely play and hearing him try was hilarious.
“When I had to choose an instrument for my band class, I thought it would be funny if I was also making those loud disgusting noises.”
Mangrum continues: “When I got home after choosing horn, I listened to a recording of Dennis Brain playing the Strauss Second Horn Concerto and immediately decided that this is what I would try to do for a living. I started taking lessons with Denys Derome, associate principal horn of the OSM.”
His brother turned out to be the right kind of inspiration. Martin is the most recent winner of the Michael Measures Prize.
The Michael Measures Prize is presented by the Canada Council for the Arts to a young classical musician between 16 and 24 enrolled in the National Youth Orchestra. “My father is a bassoonist in the Montreal Symphony,” Mangrum explains. “When I was little, I would hear music around the house and go to my father’s concerts fairly regularly but had no interest in actually playing music myself.”
Luckily his brother’s experience changed Mangrum’s mind and now he finds himself enrolled in the performance program at Colburn School Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles.
“I saw the [prize]information when I applied for NYO Canada and had to send a separate video to apply for the Prize,” Mangrum says of how he got involved. “The preparation was basically the same as it is for any other performance.”
Although Mangrum’s preparation was very pragmatic, there were challenges he had to face. “Normally if I’m making an audition or competition tape, I make sure to schedule and reserve several different times for recording sessions. For my Michael Measures Prize tape, I was only able to reserve a hall for two hours and I recorded 30 minutes of very taxing solo horn music.
“The recording session was really stressful because I was only going to be able to choose between two or three takes per piece, and I’m a horn player competing against instruments that are much more likely to win competitions.”
Mangrum now has a full calendar of recitals, competitions and sub work for the OSM. “As a result of the prize, I was able to play the Strauss on tour with NYO Canada. It was amazing to have the rare opportunity to go on tour as a horn soloist, and on top of that to be performing the piece that made me decide to be a horn player.”