Korff graduate student receives international recognition

Jordan Redd
Jordan Redd

Jordan Redd, a doctoral horn student in the Glenn Korff School of Music, was awarded first prize in the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition.

“First off, I was really surprised,” Redd said. “I’m always looking to compete. It really helps me to get better to have a goal and kind of go after it. So when I was reading up on the competition itself, I saw the kind of people that have won before, people that are featured around the world internationally as soloist. For me to even be considered part of that with how young I am, I was just really surprised and honored. It was awesome.”

The online Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition is open to all nationalities and ages in strings, piano, wind, vocal and chamber music. Each discipline is divided into different age categories. The competition encourages young musicians to perform and grow.

As a first prize recipient, Redd has been selected to perform in Brussels, Belgium, on the winners concert in December.

“I have to figure out if I can go or not,” he said.

In addition, he will be considered to be featured as a soloist with a chamber orchestra, based in Italy, that is associated with the competition during their 2020-2021 season.

“The chamber orchestra is based out of Italy, so I’d probably be playing in Italy, but they do tour a couple of different places, including some here in the U.S., so we’ll just have to see,” he said.

Redd said winning competitions like this one are beneficial to his career.

“It definitely means a lot,” he said. “I’m always trying to look to see what I can do to separate myself from future competition. I hate to look at it that way, but it’s just a reality we live in. There’s tons of talent and three horn jobs open a year, so I always try to win what I can to separate myself. But also it holds me accountable to make sure I’m practicing all the time. I’m just always trying to make myself better.”

Redd hopes to teach at the collegiate level while also playing professionally.

“My biggest thing with music is it’s given me so much that I just want to give back and help as many people as I can because of the people that have helped me along the way,” he said. “And you know, without music, I wouldn’t really amount to much. I think teaching will be good for me just because of the one-on-one interaction, but also playing in a symphony, you just never know who’s out there listening and what they need to hear.”

Redd began playing the trumpet in middle school, before his music teacher switched him to horn around his freshman year of high school.

“I think my band director was like, ‘Hey, you don’t play trumpet anymore. You’re going to play French horn.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t even know what that is,’” he said. “He called me into his office and played some Star Wars excerpts, and he said, ‘You hear that? So this is French horn.’ And I said, ‘I’m down. I’ll do it.’”

He didn’t take lessons for it and could barely read music.

“I just stuck with it and got better,” he said.

He likes the sound of the instrument.

“The horn has the most extensive range of almost any instrument,” he said. “To me, it’s really the soul of the instrument. I can’t remember who said this, but I heard it somewhere that if you look at the horn, it’s like the backwards shape of your eardrum. So people say it resonates deep in your soul because of that connection. It’s just the sound of it is so unique.”

Originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Redd received his undergraduate degree from Southeast Missouri State University, where he studied with Husker alumnus Nicholas Kenney. Redd received his Master of Music from Nebraska in 2018 before pursuing his DMA.

“After I graduated, I had a few options,” he said. “But this place is special, and I think it really has changed me for the better. I really love our horn studio, and I love our school. And I really owe Dr. Alan Mattingly and Dr. Kenney pretty much everything. They really have invested a lot of time and a lot of tough love and a lot of good love to help make me better. You just don’t find people like that everywhere.”

Redd won the Nebraska state round of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Competition two years in a row and was a national finalist in 2018. He was also awarded first prize in the UNL Graduate Concerto Competition and performed the second movement of the Glière Horn Concerto with the UNL Symphony Orchestra.

He has performed with several orchestras, including the Paducah Symphony Orchestra in Kentucky, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra in Tennessee and the Omaha Symphony. He was also a soloist with the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour in Sioux City, Iowa.

In the summer of 2017, he performed at Festival Suoni d’Abruzzo in Guardiagrele, Italy, and in 2017 and 2018 he served as principal horn of the FOOSA Philharmonia, which included performances in Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

He plans to take a step back from competing this year to focus on his doctoral dissertation.

“I need to take a step back from competing because it does take a lot of time,” he said. “But I just want to keep making myself better and get better recordings and really take a step toward the teaching side of things and try to develop that aspect.”

He always wants to get better and appreciates the recognition from Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition.

“I’d say it’s probably the biggest accomplishment that I have so far, without a doubt,” he said.