The horn, sometimes called the French horn, is part of the brass family but sits with the woodwinds. In fact, it is kind of like a glue that connects the woodwind family to the brass family. The horn is a long tube coiled up into a circular shape. If you were to unwind it, the tubing would measure approximately twelve feet in length! It is the only brass instrument that you play with your left hand. You keep your right hand inside the end, or bell, of the instrument while your left hand operates the valves.
Video coming soon!
Principal Horn, John Sargent Pillsbury Chair
Ellen Dinwiddie Smith
Michael Gast joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1990 and was appointed principal horn in 2004. He has appeared as soloist here in concertos and other major works by Bach, Britten, Mozart, Schumann, Sibelius and Strauss, among others. Most recently, he performed Mozart's Third Horn Concerto and Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 on subscription concerts during the 2016-17 season. In 2007, he and three Orchestra colleagues were featured in performances of Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns, using Gast’s own adaptation of Schumann’s original horn parts. At Sommerfest 2009 he performed Mozart’s Fourth Horn Concerto under the direction of Andrew Litton. He played Strauss’ Second Horn Concerto on the Orchestra’s spring 2011 Minnesota State Tour and reprised the work at the May 2011 Guarantors’ Concert.
Brian Jensen joined the Minnesota Orchestra in the fall of 2002 as second horn. Jensen has performed and toured with the Cleveland Orchestra, and has performed with the Seattle Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Before coming to Minnesota, he played for a season with the Utah Symphony alongside his teacher Bruce Gifford. While an active freelance musician in the Salt Lake City area, Jensen also played with the Utah Opera and Utah Festival Opera Company.
Ellen Dinwiddie Smith has been a member of the Minnesota Orchestra since 1993 and currently serves as third horn. Smith is Adjunct Professor of Horn at the University of Minnesota and has served as Young-Artist-Program faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music Summerfest. She was the founding Artistic Director of the Colonial Chamber Series (2006-2017) and organized the Musicians for Tsunami Relief benefit concert (2005) and Community Emergency Service Benefit Concert (2012), both held at Colonial Church in Edina.
In 2014, she was a featured artist at the Mid-South Horn Workshop in Austin, Texas and also performed with her colleagues at the Mid-North Horn Workshop at the University of St. Thomas. She was a featured artist at the 2003 International Horn Society Workshop at Indiana University. Smith has served as an artist-teacher on the faculty of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival and has spent many summers on the faculty of the Kendall Betts Horn Camp in Littleton, New Hampshire. She has performed and toured with the Cleveland Orchestra, and as a guest with the Kennedy Center Orchestra and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.
Bruce Hudson joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2011 after serving as fourth horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 2000 to 2011, under Music Directors Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel. He has performed, recorded and toured with the Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera.
A native of northeastern Ohio, Hudson earned both bachelor and master’s degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western Reserve University, undertaking horn studies with Cleveland Orchestra members Eli Epstein, Richard Solis and Eric Ruske.
Hudson has been adjunct horn faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Case Western Reserve University and La Sierra University in Riverside, California.