Summer French Horn Academy Online



Part of Mason Summer Music Intensive Week!

Camp director, James Nickel of the National Symphony Orchestra, invites you to join him online for Mason Arts Academy’s first-ever virtual French horn camp. We will be joined by an all-star lineup of hornists such as Jonathan Hammill of the Tokyo Symphony, Geoffrey Pilkington from the Washington National Opera, Robert Readen from National Symphony, Carolyn Wahl from the Florida Orchestra, and Chad Yarbrough from the New York Philharmonic and the Broadway show Wicked. We will start the day with a guided warm-up session, and then jump into topics such as how to nail that All-State audition or chair test. We will work on taking the fear out of transposition, bass clef, and sight-reading. We will help you choose awesome solos and give you the opportunity to perform for each other. We will talk about the best apps to help you become the best players, and much more. In addition to our group session, each person will receive mini private lessons. We will even work together to create a virtual ensemble while in your slippers and pajamas. Can’t wait to see you all on Monday, June 15!


Ages:  13 – 18
Dates:  June 15 – 19, 2020
Times:  9:00 am – 4:00 pm (M-F)
Tuition:  $425
Location:  Online (Details provided in Welcome Letter)


Daily Schedule

9:00 am – 9:45 am
Welcome and Warm Ups
10:00 am – 10:45 am
Special Topics
10:45 am – 11:00 pm
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Guest Artists
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Special Topics and Presentations
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
Virtual Ensembles
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Private Lessons
(Private lessons may extend past camp day to accommodate all students)




Register Now





Instructor: James Nickel
Mason School of Music Professor
Read about Professor Nickel

James Nickel has served as Third horn with the National Symphony Orchestra since 2008. Previously, he was the Assistant Principal horn with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Principal Horn with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He has also served as guest Principal hornist with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra on their European tour in 1998, and performed with the orchestras of Houston, Detroit, Fort Worth, Rhode Island, and the Boston Philharmonic. He can be heard on recordings by the National, Dallas, Detroit, and Montreal symphonies, and also with his horn colleagues from the Dallas and Houston symphonies on their Crystal records CD Texas Horns.

Professor Nickel has been featured as a soloist with the National Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra, and the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. While performing with the SE Iowa Symphony he participated in a two week residency of Iowa performing 3 school concerts a day, recitals, and soloing with the orchestra.
In the summertime Prof. Nickel has participated in the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in Stellenbosch, South Africa, the Music in the Mountains festival in Durango, CO, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in Idaho, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Spoleto festival, the American Wind Symphony, the Texas Music Festival, the and Sarasota Music Festival.
In addition to his performing, Mr. Nickel is adjunct professor (Applied Lessons, Horn) in the School of Music. He also serves on the faculty of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Professor Nickel earned his B.M. from the New England Conservatory of Music. He is a native of St.Petersburg, Florida, but now lives in Virginia with his wife Julianna and their two children.





Geoffrey Pikington
Washington National Opera
Read about Mr. Pikington

Geoffrey Pilkington was appointed principal horn of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in 2014, after 10 years of holding the fourth horn position in the same orchestra. Mr. Pikington completed his degree at The Juilliard School studying with Julie Landsman, and spent a year abroad at the Royal Academy of Music in London studying with Michael Thompson and Richard Watkins. In 2011, he joined the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra as associate principal/third horn and was featured as a soloist, performing Schumann’s Konzertstuck for four horns and orchestra. An accomplished recitalist, Pilkington has been awarded grand prizes at the international Horn Competition of America, The Florida Orchestra Concerto Competition, and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Additionally, he has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and as guest principal horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He was featured as a soloist in the 2016 Wagner Ring Cycles at the Kennedy Center, and has joined the San Francisco Opera for six complete Ring Cycles in 2011, and 2018. Mr. Pikington met his wife, Kathryn, while they were studying at Juilliard. She is a founding member and co-artistic director of Washington, D.C.’s modern dance troupe, Company E, as well as a modern dance instructor at George Mason University. They live in Northern Virginia with their sons Gavin and Colin.

Robert Rearden
National Symphony
Read about Mr. Rearden

Robert Rearden joined the National Symphony Orchestra horn section in 2016. He previously served as principal horn of the Florida Orchestra from 2010 to 2016. He has performed regularly as a guest musician with the Cleveland Orchestra since 2004, including multiple recordings and tours of Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and was a member of the New World Symphony from 2006 to 2010. He also appeared frequently as guest principal horn of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 2010 to 2015. Mr. Rearden has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, All-Star Orchestra, Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, and with the Mainly Mozart, Britt, Artosphere, Steamboat Springs, Spoleto USA, and Eastern music festival orchestras. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina as a student of Robert Pruzin and earned a Master of Music degree and artist diploma at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Eli Epstein and Richard Solis. He also studied with Julie Landsman and David Wakefield. He was a fellowship recipient at Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festival. While with the Florida Orchestra, Mr. Rearden appeared as a soloist on several occasions and was also a featured soloist on the orchestra’s most recent recording. He was a featured artist at the 2017 Southeast Horn Workshop and has also taught masterclasses in Havana, Cuba, at the universities of Houston and South Florida, and at the Kent-Blossom and Eastern music festivals. Mr. Rearden teaches horn at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Chad Yarbrough
New York Philharmonic and the Broadway show, “Wicked”
Read about Mr. Yarbrough

Chad Yarbrough enjoys a varied career performing with many of New York’s top ensembles. He is the principal horn of the Riverside Symphony and a member of the American Symphony Orchestra. He has been Acting Assistant /Utility Horn of the New York Philharmonic since 2017 and has performed and toured with them regularly since 2008. He appears frequently with many local ensembles including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Knights, New York City Opera Orchestra, American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, City Center’s Encores! Orchestra, and Mark Morris Dance Group. He has also performed with the Israel Philharmonic, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Mariinsky Orchestra, and Tokyo Symphony. He was a member of the Colorado Symphony for the 1999-2000 season.

Mr. Yarbrough has enjoyed a long run in the Broadway hit “Wicked”. He has appeared and recorded with Bjork, Sting, Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Rufus Wainwright, Michael Buble, and Josh Groban and recorded many television and film scores. Mr. Yarbrough earned a master’s degree from the Juilliard School, where he was a student of Jerome Ashby, and he holds a degree in education from Florida State University. Mr. Yarbrough lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Emily Bruskin Yarbrough, and their two children.

Jessica Camarata French Horn Instructor
Jessica Camarata
Academy Instructor
Read about Ms. Camarata

Jessica Camarata is an undergraduate at George Mason University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Instrumental Music Education. Throughout Jessica’s time at George Mason University she has been a member of George Mason University Wind Symphony, Mason Symphony Orchestra, GMU Brass Ensemble, Mason Brass Quintet, and GMU Horn Quartet. Jessica performed at the GMU School of Music Honors Recital with the GMU Horn Quartet. Jessica received the “Legend Leadership Scholarship Award” through the Mason Community Arts Teaching Scholars. Jessica has spent multiple summers attending various music festivals including the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, Kendall Betts Horn Camp, and Tanglewood. She is currently studying with James Nickel, the third horn of the National Symphony Orchestra. In the past, she studied with Brian Anderson, former Army Band horn, Ted Thayer, former Principle Horn of the National Symphony Orchestra, and Carl J. Bianchi, retired conductor of the American Youth Symphonic Orchestra.

Jonathan Hammill
Principal Horn of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
Read about Mr. Jammill

Born and raised in Tampa Bay, Florida, Jonathan Hammill began playing the horn at age 12. His first horn teacher, and mentor, was Carolyn Wahl of the Florida Orchestra. As a senior in high school Mr. Jammill was the winner of the brass and woodwinds division and overall runner-up in the Florida Orchestra Young Artist’s Competition. In 1995 Mr. Jammill was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to attend the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. At Juilliard he studied with Julie Landsman, former principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and in 1999 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in horn performance. He continued his horn studies as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for the 1999-2000 season where he learned from Dale Clevenger, former principal horn of the Chicago Symphony. During his college years and tenure in Chicago, Mr. Jammill attended several summer music festivals such as North Carolina School of Music summer European tour (1996), Music Academy of the West (1997), Sarasota Music Festival (1998), Jeunesses Musicale World Youth Orchestra (1998), and Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan (1999-2001). In 2001 Mr. Jammill was appointed as principal horn of the Tokyo Symphony orchestra, a position he continues to hold today.

Throughout his career Mr. Jammill has performed on stage with the Chicago, London, New Jersey, NHK, Yomiuri, Sapporo, and Hiroshima Symphony Orchestras, the Florida Orchestra, and the Nagoya, Japan, and New Japan Philharmonics. Also an active studio musician, Mr. Jammill has played on numerous Japanese motion pictures and anime film scores, commercial jingles, and game scores including “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” and “Super Mario Odyssey,” for Nintendo. Mr. Jammill teaches horn at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music and Dolce Gakki Music Academy in Tokyo. He is also a member of the horn ensemble Tsunobue Shudan.






Full Camp List