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RPO Announces Erik Behr as New Principal Oboe

May 24, 2007

From Houston Grand Opera and Ballet to the RPO

Rochester, NY – After a year-long search to fill the principal oboe opening with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Erik Behr – principal oboe since 2005 of the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet – has won the position.  Mr. Behr, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, has been appointed acting principal oboe as of May 1 through the RPO’s fiscal year ending August 31, 2007.  In that position, he will make his RPO debut at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival concerts, and will return to Rochester to perform with the Orchestra throughout the summer.  On September 1, he formally will assume the principal oboe position.  Behr replaces Ariana Ghez who left in 2006 to take the principal oboe position at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Music Director Christopher Seaman explained the audition process: “All our players are selected by a committee of musicians and the Music Director,” said Seaman.  “It is a thorough auditioning process, in this case ending with trial weeks in the orchestra.  Erik Behr impressed us with his great artistry, and we look forward to having him with us in the RPO.”

Erik Behr began his oboe studies at the age of 13 in Cape Town, but at 18, he came to this country for his undergraduate college education, having gotten a taste of the U.S. as a 16-year old participant in oboe master classes by John Mack in Carmel, California.  Behr received his bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University in 2001, his master’s from Temple University in 2003, and currently is a doctoral candidate at Rice University.  His principal teachers have been Robert Atherholt, Richard Woodhams and Marin Schuring.

“There seems to be a wonderful personal relationship between the audience and the RPO that is quite unique,” notes the 28-year old Behr, who performed three Philharmonics concerts this season with the RPO.  “The community’s interest and pride in its Orchestra speaks highly of the cultural values of the Rochester community and of the high artistic quality of the RPO.  Not only does this relationship benefit the organization, but it would seem to serve as an inspiration to the individual musicians in the Orchestra.”

In addition to his positions in Houston, Behr performed as a guest principal with the Atlanta Symphony, as a guest with the Seattle Symphony, and since 2004 as substitute oboe and English horn with the Houston Symphony.  He also performed at the Spoleto Festival, with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, as principal oboe with the Haddonfield (NJ) Symphony, with the New York Opera Festival, at the Casals Festival and with the Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra under Kurt Masur.  In addition, Behr was the solo English horn in the recording of Honegger’s Concerto da Camera with the RTV Slovenia Orchestra, performed as solo oboe in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante on tour with the Irish National Youth Orchestra, and as a member of the World Wind Quintet performing at the Edinburgh International Festival, Kilkenny Festival and Maribor Festival.

Now in its 84th season, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.

RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO. 


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