An SMU faculty member has won the “Olympics of Horn Playing.” Haley Hoops, assistant instructor in the University’s Meadows School of the Arts and second hornist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, took first prize in the 2013 International Horn Competition of America, Professional Division.
The competition, held Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the University of Louisville’s School of Music, is the largest of its kind in North America. It drew 70 leading French horn players from 11 countries to perform in two categories — professional and university. They were judged by some of the nation’s eminent hornists, including professors at leading schools of music and top-level symphony orchestra musicians.
“The festival has been called the ‘Olympics of Horn Playing,’” said Dr. Bruce Heim, horn professor and festival host. “Critics have used words like ‘demanding,’ ‘unforgiving’ and ‘recalcitrant’ to describe the instrument. Great hornists make it sound easy, of course. Haley is indeed among the best.”
Hoops has taught horn at SMU since 2001 and has been second horn player with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) since 1999. She’s played nationwide with orchestras that include the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, Grant Park Festival Orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra.
Hoops also performs with the DSO-sponsored children’s educational brass quintet Symphony YES! and with Voices of Change, a Dallas-based contemporary music ensemble. In 2012, she premiered the Sonata for French Horn and Piano by James M. Stephenson at the International Horn Symposium.