The intersection of Poetry and Music Lecture Recital

French Hornist Olivia Esther and David Jaeger will be presenting a lecture recital at the International Horn Society annual conference in Montreal Wednesday, July 26, 2023 with special guests: Elise Martel, horn (OSQ) and Sara Schabas, Soprano.

The presentation will take place at 5 pm in the Salle Serge Garant at the Faculty of Music of the University of Montreal.

Over the past year, hornist Olivia Esther and composer David Jaeger have been collaborating on the creation of a collection of new works inspired by poetry. For Jaeger, the poems inspire all manner of musical details (rhythm, melody, atmosphere and texture) and for Esther, the messages contained in the text guide her interpretation.

The current lecture recital demonstrates a few of the creative results from the ongoing collaboration. We hope that this presentation will provide the listener with a fresh appreciation for how closely music and poetry can be intertwined, and how beautifully the horn can be used as a vehicle for the settings of great poetry.

Olivia Esther
David Jaeger

In Part 1, the horn is literally the voice of the poet. Jaeger has set the words of David Cameron’s poems as literally as his imagination has attempted to “liberate the music from the words.” This is perhaps most evident in the first set, three miniatures for solo horn, in which each syllable of the poetry has been assigned a horn note. The poems are short, and  the melodies do not develop – they simply try to “sing” the little texts. 

The settings in the cycle Gifts are similar, but, due to the longer poems used, it seemed to make sense to combine recitations of the poems by the hornist, adjacent to their performance on the horn. 

In Part 2, the melodies were extracted from the poetry of the late Seàn Haldane, and then used in a duo contrapuntal setting. The subject matter of the poems ranges from the sounds of echoes to the various moods evoked while observing blackbirds.

In part 3, the horn becomes a dramatic character, through the setting of a vigorous and spicy poem by David Cameron. The woman at the core of Home at Teatime is mentioned briefly in T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land, but the poet David Cameron has created a larger poem, giving her an expanded role. We encounter her, in this piece, as a vivacious woman with her own thoughts of life, love and gender relationships.

Part 4 presents a more or less straightforward setting of Bruce Whiteman’s poem, The Sun, from his most recent volume of poetry, The Invisible World is in Decline, volume IX. It is an expression of exuberance over the life force in the world, and of renewal through women giving birth.


Part 1 Solo Horn 

Music by David Jaeger

Poems by David Cameron 

Miniature Triptych for Unaccompanied horn (W.P.)

  1. Follow it Home
  2. The Back of your Ear 
  3. The Explanation

Gifts for Unaccompanied horn and Spoken Word

  1. For Winter
  2. Sometimes the Summer
  3. The Red Deer
  4. A Blessing
  5. Gifts

Part 2 Two Horns

Music by David Jaeger
Poems by Sean Haldane

Three Duos for Two Horns (W.P.)

  1. Echo 
  2. The Blackbird in the Rain at Night
  3. The Berserk Blackbird

Part 3 Narrative

Music by David Jaeger
Poems by David Cameron 

Home at Teatime (W.P.)

Part 4 Intersection

Music by David Jaeger
Poem by Bruce Whiteman

The Sun for Horn and Soprano (W.P.)

Visit the IHS website for more information:


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