Chicago confirms it’s taking principal flute from the Met

Chicago confirms it’s taking principal flute from the Met


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2015

Following our exclusive report four months ago that both principal flutes had resigned from the Metropolitan Opera on the same day – one going to Los Angeles, the other to Chicago – the Chicago Symphony has now officially named Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson as principal flute (see below).

Denis Bouriakov is already appearing as principal with the LA Phil. The Met has yet to announce replacements. Artists of this calibre are not easy to recruit.


Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson

CHICAGO—Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Music Director Riccardo Muti and CSO Association President Jeff Alexander announce the appointment of Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson as the new Principal Flute of the CSO, effective May 30, 2016.
Höskuldsson appears with the CSO as its guest principal flute twice before his tenure officially begins in May. He has performed in the 2015/16 season-opening weeks of concerts (September 17–October 3) with Muti conducting, and will also perform with the CSO on its tour to Asia in January 2016 with Muti.
Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson is currently Principal Flute of the Metropolitan (Met) Opera Orchestra, a post to which he was appointed in 2008, after serving as that orchestra’s second flute from 2004–2008. In addition to his performances with the Met Orchestra, he has been invited as guest principal flute with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Mostly Mozart Festival. His extensive solo performances include engagements with the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, recitals at the Sir James Galway International Flute Festival in Lucerne and a live radio broadcast with BBC Radio 3 “In Tune” in London.
Höskuldsson has performed widely throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan under the direction of James Levine, Fabio Luisi, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Riccardo Muti. He regularly performs at Carnegie Hall with the Met Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble and has collaborated in performances and recordings with such renowned artists as pianists Evgeny Kissin, Alfred Brendel and Yefim Bronfman, violinist Gil Shaham, and sopranos Diana Damrau and Anna Netrebko.
A native of Iceland, Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson attended the Reykjavik School of Music in Iceland where he studied with Bernhard Wilkinson. Following his graduation, he attended the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, where he studied with Peter Lloyd and Wissam Boustany.


  • Itsjtime says:

    No doubt those guys are excellent….but…
    Flute players are like Doritos..they’ll make more.

  • Daniel F. says:

    The Metropolitan Opera losing BOTH of its principal flutes: the blog-keeper sounds like he’s enjoying Heaven right here on Earth. News of the Met’s (and especially Levine’s) loss is always worth his living for, especially when he got a “scoop”. Glory be!

  • anon ami in deutschland says:

    Musicians, for any number of reasons, move on to other positions. Orchestras don’t take them from other orchestras.

    • MacroV says:

      While I do find many of Mr. Lebrecht’s headlines overblown and inaccurate, it might not be in this case. Over the past 20 years the CSO in several instances did in fact hire players away from other orchestras after conducting its own audition (several times in some cases), finding nobody they liked, and then inviting an established star to a short trial with the orchestra, sparing said person the indignity of going through all the audition rounds (unlike the MET, which famously makes every interested candidate go through the whole process, no special treatment for big names). I don’t know if it happened in this case, but it’s not unprecedented.

      • M2N2K says:

        Not only is this “not unprecedented”, but CSO is not the only orchestra that does that. And yet, this can hardly be called “taking away” because no one forces players to leave their positions: they are always free to decline invitations, or even after a “winning” tryout they can still decline to sign a contract which does indeed happen occasionally. So, I fully agree with AAID’s comment here.

  • Brian says:

    And James Levine isn’t entirely a sure bet at the moment either…!/story/james-levine-pulls-out-lulu-citing-schedule-demands/

    • Nick says:

      Is not this comment from Peter Gelb in the wqxr article yet another symptom of his utter lack of competence when it comes to running an opera house?

      “Conducting evening performances of Tannhäuser while rehearsing Lulu in the daytime would be an ambitious undertaking for any maestro, let alone for someone who only recently returned to full-time conducting,” said Gelb

      And yet knowing they were favourites of Levine and knowing for how long Levine has been best by major health problems, Gelb went ahead and scheduled these works side by side. Whether or not Levine believed he could fulfil that crunching schedule is immaterial. Gelb should have protected Levine with greater spacing between the two.

  • All Keyed Up says:

    After 11 seasons in the Met Opera Orchestra (7 of those seasons as principal), he’s played most of the Met’s repertoire, and no doubt he’s anxious to get back to playing the symphonic repertoire – and playing on stage instead of in a pit.

  • MacroV says:

    Yes, no doubt he’s an amazing flutist, but as a youth orchestra conductor said years ago, there are more flutists in the world than people. And a huge number of brilliant ones, too. The MET will have no shortage of equally (or near equally) great players from which to choose.

  • NYMike says:

    The Met has lost three clarinetists over the past number of years – one to Philadelphia, one to the NY Phil and one to the Chicago Symphony. That said, the Met is able to obtain fine new players partly because of the high salary it pays.