Tag Archives: Columbus Symphony

Gene Standley – Principal French Horn

Of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s French horn section:

These folks are phenomenal.  They always deliver with precision and passion.  And to think that the section has changed so much over the years in terms of personnel, it is all the more a tribute to consistent leadership of Gene and the luck we have had at acquiring the right talent at the right time.

 - Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson

Welcome to Day 4 of French Horn week!  Today we have the pleasure of meeting Principal horn player, Gene Standley, probably one of the nicest people you could ever meet! 



Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Alma Mater: Curtis Institute of Music – studied with all the principals of the Philadelphia orchestra

Home Life: Wife, Jocelyn – also a horn player, four children and lots of livestock!  I live on a working farm.

Gene is also a cancer survivor of 3 years!

Any fun hobbies?  Collecting classical music LPs – lots of classical music LPs!  Also model trains and bargain hunting!

Why the French horn?  Both parents played the French horn with the Pittsburgh Symphony (back in the 1950s).  Mom was really helpful in getting me get started and then Dad, a well-known horn teacher, helped me from there.

Instrument: C.F. Schmidt (Carl Fischer – a repairman and dealer in Chicago)  My particular horn was originally made in the 1930s, but bought by my dad in the 1980s and didn’t play well, so I had it fixed up.  Dale Clevenger, principal horn in the Chicago Symphony, played a C.F. Schmidt, too!

How often do you practice? About 1 hour every day, but about 2 hours per day during the season.

Who are some of your favorite French horn players?  Radek Baborák, Sarah Willis and Stefan Dohr.


With what other ensembles have you played?  Once in a while I play with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and I played with the Philadelphia Orchestra back in the 70s-80s, when Riccardo Muti was at the podium, also with the Pittsburgh Symphony with Lorin Maazel for the Wagner Ring excerpts.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  If you know the people understand and know the music, then you’re playing for a group of people who know what to expect.  It’s definitely more rewarding if you pull it off and play it well.  You can feel a lack of intensity from the state if the audience is bored.

For myself, I gain a reaffirmation of what I know I can do.  Hopefully I’ll play it better than the time before.  It’s always a learning experience.

Bud Herseth always talked about his lifelong quest to learn and grow.

What’s the best place to perform outside of Columbus?  Denison University (Granville, OH)

Any memorable performances?  Tchaikovsky’s 5th under Gunther Herbig.  I first played at rehearsal and knew I was off.  It was going to be my first concert after cancer.  Maestro Herbig asked me how I was going to do it?  “Figure it out!”, I told myself.  I pulled it off and Maestro Herbig said, “What a wonderful recovery!”

Which concert are you most looking forward to playing this year?  Mahler’s 2nd, Bruckner 9 (Wagner horn), Brahms Symphonies



Year joined the CSO: 1990, Principal as of 1991

What brought you to Columbus?  Imra Szukfu, then-personnel manager with the CSO, finally called me before I’d already signed up for another year with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  I auditioned and won a one-year appointment.

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre?  Both – depends on the kind and size of piece being played.

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra?

They should know how important it is to support the local symphony.

People en masse have so much power – if everyone in Columbus donated $2-5, we’d be set.


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  Get to know it!  Try it!

Start with the basics – Peter and the Wolf, Beethoven’s 5th, etc.

Who are your favorite composers? Mahler, Brahms, Bruckner, Beethoven, Ravel, Debussy, Prokofiev

What’s your favorite musical era: Romantic

What are your favorite pieces for the French horn? Mahler 5th, Tchaikovsky 5th, Shostakovich 5th, Wagner operas (Wagner knew how to write for the horn!)

What French horn music should I have in my music library? All the 5ths! (5th Symphonies – Mahler 5th, Tchaikovsky 5th, Shostakovich 5th, etc!)

Here’s a quick bit of music that Gene was nice enough to play for me – with no warm up but a quick run through of the Star Trek theme right before! (I couldn’t get him to play THAT for me on video, but I think this is quite good, don’t you?!)


Any rival sections?  The loge.

Any good quotes about French horns?  Yes –don’t mess with a French horn player.  Dale Clevenger was tough – you just didn’t mess with him!

What exactly IS hand stopping?  It’s when we actually ‘jam’ our hand firmly inside the bell to seal off the sound. This creates a high pitched ‘sizzle’ sound that is used in works by French composers as well as Mahler and others.

Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird?  Both – he definitely liked to be different!  It’s easy for musicians to overdo it though.

Hey – a little support on Stravinsky’s weirdness!  Of course, his music IS growing on me!  And the math really is impressive!  Something to think about, I suppose!  Come back tomorrow for the soul of the Orchestra!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin Lano – Adam Koch – Julia RoseGene StandleySoul of the Orchestra Thank you!  

Julia Rose – Associate Principal French Horn

Welcome to day 3 of French Horn week!  Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Julia Rose - Associate Principal French Horn with the CSO. So glad the flute didn’t work out for her!



Hometown: Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Alma Mater: University of Wisconsin – Madison

Home Life: Julia has a husband and two children, Jack (8 years) and Judy (10 months).  They also have a very big, very affectionate 90-lb black lab / chow mix! (Very cute, too!)

Any fun hobbies? Yes – she’s an infant!

Why the French horn?  It was pretty! In 5th grade, I tried the flute, but couldn’t make a sound out of it, so I chose the French horn!

Instrument: I own 3- a Felix Cantesanu Horn as my primary instrument, a Finke Descant horn with Ron Pinc lead pipe, and a Rauch horn currently on the shelf as backup


How often do you practice? 3 hours / day Monday-Friday.  Weekends are tough with the kids, but I still try for 2 hours on the weekends.

Who are some of your favorite French horn players? John Zirbel, principal horn with the Montreal Symphony.  A former teacher of mine, and an incredible and inspiring musician.


With what other ensembles have you played?  New World Symphony in Miami, FL, Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony / Pops, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. (These days) other than the occasional freelance gig, I don’t play outside the CSO.  I occasionally perform for my church, but would love to play more chamber music.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  We’re giving them pleasure.  People come to our concerts and want to be entertained.  This is their leisure activity.  Everybody’s stressed out – they come to our concerts to escape the bad things in life.  We’re part of what makes humanity human.  Work for me is a sort of escape.

Life is hard.  We work with the best that humanity has to offer, and I get to give the gift of it to others.  I love music!  It’s a privilege to have a job doing what I love.

Where’s the best place to perform outside of Columbus? Carnegie Hall in NYC for its great acoustics.

Any memorable performances? Rite of Spring (March 2013) – I FINALLY got to perform it! Also, I was the soloist in a performance of the Strauss 1st Concerto with the New World Symphony in 1997.  It was a transcendent experience – everything went right!  It was the perfect performance!

Which concert are you most looking forward to playing this year? Mozart – Father and Son with James Sommerville.  “He’s one of the best horn players out there.  I’ve been a fan of his since college.  An amazing musician!”


Year joined the CSO: 1997

What brought you to Columbus?  After three years with the New World Symphony in Miami, I auditioned for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and was the runner-up.  The lady who won the post, opted instead for a position playing in Philadelphia so it was offered to me.

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre? Southern

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra? 

It’s the best kept secret in this town.

Even with ups and downs the last several years, it’s virtually the same orchestra as when it was a 46-week orchestra.


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  If you’re on the fence, you should give it a chance.  It changes your mood – you can start in a bad mood and end up in a great mood afterwards. Don’t knock it until you try it.

If you don’t think you like it because you don’t know it, give it a chance!

Who’s your favorite composer? Mahler (at the moment)

What’s your favorite musical era? Romantic

What are your favorite pieces of music for the French horn? Anything Mahler, Brahms Horn Trio (Violin, Horn, Piano)

What French horn music should I have in my music library? Schumann Concert Piece for 4 horns and orchestra, Mozart Horn concertos, Richard Strauss horn concertos


Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird? Genius!

Oh yeah – I’m totally outnumbered on this one!  Come back tomorrow to meet Principal Gene Standley!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin LanoAdam KochJulia RoseGene Standley – Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you! 

Adam Koch – Acting Second Horn / Tenured Fourth Horn

Horn player, Adam Koch, and his wife, Kat, were at the Arts Festival last June which is where I originally met them.  Like the other three horn players, Adam was an enthusiastic participant in French Horn Week, so much so, that he agreed to let me record him playing the theme to the latest set of Star Trek movies.  Such a good sport!


Hometown: Olympia, WA

Alma Mater: Indiana University, B.S.O.F. French Horn Performance, Outside Field Business. –  1 year at Rice University, but was then selected for a position in Charleston.

Home Life: Wife, Kat and a Siberian Husky (GiGi)

Any fun hobbies? Playing the French horn started as a hobby but then turned into a career.  Photography (View Adams photos here).  I also work part-time as a vegan chef at The Wellness Forum in Worthington.

Why the French horn?  My parents liked the music from out of Africa which had great French horn parts, so I tried it.  And my parents told me “And if you’re really good, you can get a scholarship to college!”

Instrument: Engelbert Schmid


Close up of Adam’s French horn

How often do you practice? About an hour a day.  More when I am in ‘audition mode’

Who are some of your favorite French horn players?  Bill VerMeulen – my teacher at Rice, a great mentor, colleague, and friend.  He stays within the rules, but loves to stretch the limits.  He has some very fresh and cool interpretations of Mozart horn concertos, for example.


With what other ensembles have you played?  I occasionally sub with Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston and Cincinnati.  I also play with the New Albany Symphony, music festivals, small chamber groups, church gigs.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  Sharing with them something that’s very important to us – to me – is like giving someone a surprise gift.

You know what it is, how awesome it is, you’re almost giddy with excitement!  I hope they enjoy it.  I hope they get that tingly feeling down their spine at the big moments.  That’s what I hope to share.

For myself, I hope for the same – that feeling of awe and the beauty inherent in the music.  You need both precision and abandon to make it beautiful.

Where are some great places to perform outside of Columbus? Steamboat Springs, Colorado – beautiful, mountains, mountain air, awesome food!  But I still like the Ohio Theatre – here, I’m surrounded by colleagues and friends.

Any memorable performances?  Beethoven 9 (even playing it 3-4 times, you still get something new.)  Mahler and Strauss are especially fun to play!  It was my first time doing the Rite of Spring this past year with live dancers on stage.  Very fun!

Which concert are you most looking forward to playing this year? Mahler #2, Resurrection.


Year joined the CSO: 2007

What brought you to Columbus?  This job!

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre? Both for different reasons – Southern for the smaller ensembles, Ohio for the larger.

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra?  This is our full-time job, not a side thing.  Most of us spend many hours a day when not physically at work honing our craft and preparing mentally and physically for performances.

Sorry for making a football reference, but its similar to — the buckeyes! — They spend a lot of time at practice.  When not at practice, they’re jogging, lifting weights, studying plays.  Similarly, when not in rehearsal, we are jogging, lifting weights, studying music, practicing fundamentals, tweaking equipment, We’re athletes too!  Athletes of the small muscles!


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  They just haven’t heard the right piece yet!

Who are your favorite composers? Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Bruckner, Mahler, R. Strauss, Arvo Pärt (not necessarily for the horn – he’s just really interesting!)

What’s your favorite musical era?  Romantic (everyday favorite), Baroque (Listens to Sunday Baroque on the radio with a cup of coffee)

What are your favorite pieces of music for the French horn? Anything by the above composers – anything with a lot of horns in it – anything where I can be a badass!  Bach Cello Suites are fun to play on the French horn! I’m A big fan of the Mozart and Strauss concertos but I really like later horn music.  Sonatas by Eric Ewazen, Halsey Stevens, Bernard Heiden.  I’m currently working on a really cool horn concerto by Reinhardt that jumps all over the range really fast.  Pretty flashy!

What French horn music should I have in my music library? Halsey Stevens Sonata for Horn and Piano, Obviously, the Mozart horn concerti.


I know you played a concert with the Cincinnati Symphony that was nothing by Star Trek / Star Wars.  Would you please play the latest theme to Star Trek?

SO – Any rival sections?  No idea, but we sound really good with the cellos!

And finally – Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird?  Genius.  Think of all the math he had to do to eventually find that common denominator to get us all back on the same beat!


Come back tomorrow to meet Associate Principal, Julia Rose!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin LanoAdam KochJulia RoseGene Standley – Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you! 

Erin Lano – Acting Fourth / Utility French Horn

Erin Lano, is the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s newest horn player. She joins the CSO this year as a full-time musician after having subbed for two years.   

Originally from Richmond, VA and a veteran marathon runner, she’s currently in the process of moving from Chicago to Columbus in the next week or so.  She was kind enough to talk to me via Skype, hence the reason behind her having lent me some pictures – which are a tad more formal than those I took of her fellow horn players!  

So please let me take this opportunity to introduce you to her.

Everyone: Meet Erin!

Erin Lano


Hometown:  Richmond, VA

Alma Mater: B.M. New England conservatory of  Music (studied under James Sommerville) and Master’s degree (M.M.) from Rice university.

Home Life: Husband Matt Lano, who plays the bassoon, and a pet snake named Chloe.

Any fun hobbies? I like to run and have run the Chicago marathon 6 times.


Why the French horn? My parents told me I had to be in band.  Mom used to play the French horn.  It sounded pretty and we had one sitting around the house, so I might as well have played that!

What kind of instrument do you play? Ricco Kühn

How often do you practice? About 2-4 hours per day

Who are some of your favorite French horn players? Radovan Vlatković – I love his sound, how smoothly he plays and how musical he is.  James Sommerville, William VerMeulen (Rice University also 1st horn of Houston Symphony)   The Chicago Symphony horn section!  Sarah Willis, Low horn with the Berliner Philharmoniker – definitely a huge inspiration.


With what other ensembles have you played?   I’m Principal Horn with the West Michigan Symphony, 3rd horn at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, OR and I play with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. In Chicago, I sub with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera, Grant Park Orchestra and have also subbed with the Cincinnati and Milwaukee Symphonies.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  I want to play my best.  Each time I perform a piece, I learn a little more about it. I hope to learn more about the other parts to see the big picture.

I hope the audience is moved in some way.  I want the orchestra to get the emotional content of the music and for the audience to feel an emotional connection to the orchestra and to the music.

Being in an orchestra – being able to recreate these great masterpieces.  It’s so rewarding!

Where are some great places to play outside of Columbus: Symphony Hall in Boston or Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park, Chicago

Any memorable performances?  Playing principal on Mahler’s 9th with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Orchestra Hall.

Which concert(s) are you most looking forward to playing this year? Mahler 2nd, Brahms 4th


Year joined the CSO: 2013, Subbed for two years prior.

What brought you to Columbus?  I’ve been Freelancing in Chicago for 6 years now.  A couple of years ago, Adam (Koch) called me to play a gig in Cleveland, which was right before Columbus Symphony Orchestra Sub auditions.  He told me I should take the audition, and I have been coming out a lot since then.

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre? Ohio Theatre

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra? We are really lucky to have such a great orchestra.  Columbus does far more in terms of a meaty, classical repertoire during the year than some other orchestras of its size.  Such a great variety and we have a huge hall, too, so there are plenty of seats!


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  I’d offer up some suggestions or suggest they hear a live performance just to get a full sampling of it.  If you find a piece or a composer who really resonates with you, then work your way out from there.  There’s such a huge variety to the classical repertoire, I think everyone could find something to love about it.

Who are your favorite composers? Mozart, Brahms

What’s your favorite musical Era:  Romantic

Favorite show off piece for the French horn: Mozart Horn concertos, Former professor James Sommerville plays so expressively, so musically – he taught me how to play the Mozart concertos.  “No – you CAN’T do it that way.  Do it THIS way…”

What French horn music should I have in my music library? Till Eulenspiegel, Don Juan by Strauss


Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird?  Genius!

I don’t know, but I might end up being outnumbered on that last question!


Special thanks to Erin for the use of her pictures for this post.  

Come back tomorrow to meet Adam Koch!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin Lano – Adam Koch – Julia Rose – Gene Standley – Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you!  

Get Your Symphony On

In my mailbox today was something great  What, you ask?



A great-looking brochure of the 2013-2014 season of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  Finally!  Check it out!

This awesome 20-page brochure highlights the entire Masterworks (classical music) series as well as the Pops season which includes the Midtown Men, Holiday Pops and Peter Nero: The Gershwin Project, among others.  (YEA!)  It also includes education events such as Family Concerts and the Youth Orchestra concert schedule.  I’m guessing that copies are probably available at the CAPA ticket office next to the Ohio Theatre, but it’s also available online if you’d like to take a look!

Here’s my favorite page!
IMG_0795It’s my favorite because I already have tickets to all three of these concerts.  Yea! :-)  Needless to say, I’m a tad excited!

It seems the CSO is also working on a new slogan: “Get Your Symphony On.”  It’s written vertically on the last page.  I’m still up in the air about that one, so I’ll have to get back to you later, but in the meantime, I’m game.  I’ll go. Won’t you?

Undecided, but positively so? I think.

This past Saturday, I returned to the Columbus Symphony for their latest performance.  This was a special occasion because they were performing in collaboration with the Ballet Met – a group of wonderfully talented dancers.  Wow.  They were really good. Combine that with the fantastic orchestra and you’re sure to have a great performance.

I’m going to stop right there and apologize up front to the Columbus Symphony and also to the Ballet Met.  To all, I will be completely honest:  I am not a fan of the ballet.  I can appreciate the work and the talent and a performance, but I’m just not crazy about it.  I also don’t really care for Romantic era or 20th century classical music.   I’m sorry.  I just don’t.

Hey – some folks don’t like football (those who don’t are usually banished from the state of Ohio) and some folks don’t like spicy foods and some folks don’t like black licorice.  We all have our likes and dislikes.

I’d heard some pieces by these composers before – Ravel, Debussy and Stravinsky – but I’d never heard these particular pieces, so I was going in and listening to brand new music.  That’s part of the reason to go though, right?  To expose myself to new things?  Well – I kind of feel like I was flashed (DON’T LOOK, ETHEL!) because this music was so different than what I normally like to listen to on the radio and at home.  Gotta love a good adventure once in a while though, yes?

This was not one of my season tickets, but I learned a friend was going to perform and I didn’t want to miss it.  I went there knowing I’d be exposed to something different, but also knew I was going to hear music that would normally trigger my involuntary reflex to change the radio station to anything else – including country.  (OK, maybe not talk radio.  I think I’d rather drive in silence than opt for that!)

Needless to say, while the performances were sure to be terrific, I was not at all expecting to actually like it.  Any of it.  My expectations however, were somewhat shot.  :-)   

So – those caveats out of the way, here’s what was on the program:

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Columbus Symphony Orchestra




DEBUSSY Prélude à “l’Après-midi d’un faune”(Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”)

RAVEL Rapsodie espagnole

STRAVINSKY Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)

Christopher Purdy said that during the first performance of Rite of Spring, 100 years ago, there were riots because it was so weird.  He also said that the first half of that performance included nice, happy music that was in a happy key (the entire piece) and had chords that resolved.  Ahh…music to my ears.  Rite of Spring: very different.  Definitely makes for an interesting story around this piece of music!  

Before the concert, during intermission and afterwards, I posted some thoughts on Facebook.   

Oh wow – much better seats than usual! For this concert I am WAY out of my comfort zone. (No really – Waaaaaayyy out) My favorite eras of classical music (Gershwin and Rachmaninoff excepted) are classical, baroque and early. This new-fangled, 20th century, modern stuff is going to seem very strange to my ears this evening! I LIKE chords that resolve…


Intermission: lots of really weird music at the CSO tonight! Not sure I like it yet. Seriously. Debussy and Ravel down, Stravinsky Rite of Spring to go!


I just saw Rite of Spring performed by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Met. I didn’t really have any idea what was going on (well – that’s not entirely true), but surprisingly, I actually liked it. It was very impressive. Tomorrow morning, I’m starting my Rite of Spring workout program. It’ll be great. Should be down to 100-lb ballerina weight in no time! (It really did look like they were getting a great workout!)


I went to the Columbus Symphony last night. Still not sure if I liked it. Normally, the music played (Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky) is the kind of music that, when heard on the radio, would cause me to instantly change the radio station – even to country music. I just don’t like late romantic or 20th century classical. (Few exceptions – like Gershwin, Rachmaninoff, late Beethoven) 

First half – didn’t like the music, didn’t really get the dancing. 2nd half (Rite of Spring) I THINK I liked it…would never listen to the music by itself, but the dancing was funky and while I didn’t get most of it, I really do think I liked it…but am still not sure. 

I’ll admit that were it not for the fact that I knew someone performing, I would not have bought a ticket. I had a really good seat though! Hmm…overall, I’m still kind of undecided about the music, but am glad I went. 


The music was well-played and the dancing – especially during Rite of Spring (no riots this time, by the way) – was fabulous!  Wow!  I’m really impressed with Ballet Met.  The choreography was really funky, but I liked it – despite my not understanding a thing of what was going on half the time!  I wasn’t expecting to like Rite of Spring, not at all, but I did.  I’ll be honest with you – I probably wouldn’t enjoy just the music just on its own, but with the ballet to go with it, it made for a great combination.

There was also Jeni’s ice cream afterwards: Absinthe and Meringues.  Like all Jeni’s ice cream, it was delicious.  Who cares what the temperature was outside?  We were all going to have some ice cream!  

After all that, I just might go to something like that again – even without knowing someone who was performing.  

Well done, Columbus Symphony.  Well done Ballet met.

Well done. 

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