Just in: New principal horn at the Concertgebouw

Just in: New principal horn at the Concertgebouw


norman lebrecht

January 23, 2019

Katy Woolley, formerly principal of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, won the C’bouw audition today.

Originally from Exeter, Katy cut her milk teeth in the EU Youth Orchestra and is now professor of horn at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.




  • NYMike says:

    American horn player Julia Studebaker preceded Wooley as principal years ago.

    • Bruce says:

      ^ Fantastic player. After all these years she is still one of my favorite things about Concertgebouw recordings of the 80s and 90s.

      • Pert says:

        Who played the horn solo in Chailly’s RCO Mahler 5 recording. What a performance!

        • Alex says:

          Jacob Slagter

        • NYMike says:

          Heard them do it live @ Carnegie with Slagter. Riveting performance all the way around.

          • emmkay says:

            Just stumbled upon this via a google search, so please excuse the pedantic correction nearly three years after your post, but for the record: the on tour NY performance of Mahler 5 with RCO/Chailly and Slagter was not at Carnegie but at Avery Fisher Hall. I was there and I still have the program to prove it.

    • Axl says:

      You’re right! This is Studebaker’s old post. She was principal in RCO from 1974 to 2002. Then she was succedeed by Jasper de Waal (2004-2012), then become Felix Dervaux (2014-2016) and now Katy. This appointment is superior! Big congrats and blessing to Katy and good luck!

    • Axl says:

      … And in Studebaker era, she share principal duties with Adriaan van Woudenberg (1944-1985) and then with Jakob Slagter (1985-2008). Laurens Woudenberg has held Slagter’s post since 2012 and from now on he and Katy will share the principal duties together.

  • Graeme Hall says:

    Katy Woolley is a fantastic player. I remember hearing her lead the horns in a Bruckner 7. What impressed was not the big grand statements, but her quiet playing and subtle interplay with the woodwind.

    • barry guerrero says:

      Heaven forbid we should have “big, grand statements” in Bruckner. I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to Bruckner concerts to hear the first horn do, “quiet playing and subtle interplay with the woodwinds”. For Chabrier or Debussy, sure. From what you describe, she’ll fit in just fine with the low intensity horns in the Concertgebouw. God forbid they should ever blast out.

  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    She’s a wonderful player. There’s been a horn turnstile in that orchestra for years, although they always seem to grab great players.

    I wondered why she left such a plum gig as Philharmonia principal at such a young age after a short period of time.

    Lucky Amsterdam.

    • Alexander Hall says:

      I was told she had got tired of the strain of playing concert after concert, especially on overseas tours. Not long after, however, she started guesting with the LSO and Gothenburg Symphony, so she might well have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms. It is a sad reflection though on working conditions in London, never mind the prohibitive cost of living anywhere near the capital, that the Philharmonia has lost a stream of fine players to regional orchestras as well as to the Royal Opera and ENO where overseas touring is not an additional stress factor. Top orchestras generally find ways of holding on to top players: this is a problem the London orchestras need to address.

    • Patrick says:

      Who would not take a chance at playing with the Concergebouw Orchestra Amsterdam?

  • Robert Groen says:

    With such credentials Ms Woolley will surely fit in well with the rest of the RCO brass. I can’t wait for her Bruckner, Schumann and Strauss (Richard). Welcome in the Netherlands!

  • Wai Kit Leung says:

    Will Miss Woolley continue to teach at the RAM and Trinity?

  • Larry W says:

    One of the few top players who didn’t study with William VerMeulen.

    • Axl says:

      ??? Would you please explain? Like Woolley, many TOP horn players (Baborak, Vlatcovic, Dohr, de Waal, Carsten Duffin, Timothy Jones etc) are European and VerMeulen teaches in America. And in this case I don’t mean the masterclasses but the long-term study.

      • Larry W says:

        Since you asked: Very few teachers in music have produced, time and time again, the student outcomes that William VerMeulen has. His students have won positions in the most prestigious of orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and dozens of other top-tier orchestras and ensembles. Add to that list principal horn in the Berlin Philharmonic.

        Only a handful of professors in history can claim results this extraordinary, having had over 250 positions of performance employment been given to his relatively small, select group of students.

        Music students travel the world to study, and top players are everywhere, not just in Europe.

        I’ve explained my meaning. Now, please explain why you objected to my fair statement.

        • Axl says:

          Thanks for explaning! I know that VerMeulen is great and respected teacher and his students win lots of jobs especially in US orchestras. Plus I know, that top horn players are in anywhere, even if so many famous hornists are European (the names, whom I listed).
          But I understand your first comment that almost all top players (also including Europeans) would have studied with VerMeulen, which isn’t true! If I read bios of top horn players in many European/World top best orchestras (for example Concertgebouw, Berlin Phil, Bayerischen Rundfunk, London Symphony) – I’ve never seen marking that a top player x has never studied in VerMeulen. Or taking part of his masterclasses. VerMeulen is so big name, that almost every horn player who has studied with him, telling his/her bio that has take part of VerMeulen’s lessons. So for me it seems that most of VerMeulen’s students are basically Americans and play in American orchestras. Young players all over the world can go to US and study with him, mut in here (Europe), so many orchestral horn players are almost same age as VerMeulen so we don’t have many young players in our orchestras (or horn soloist or freelancer’s), who would have been studied especially in VerMeulen. Our famous top players (Baborak, Duffin and so on) has largely studied in European/local top teachers. One big name in here is Michael Höltzel. And I mean the long-term studying, not a masterclasses.
          Did you now get what I mean? 🙂

          • Larry W says:

            Thank you, Axl. Please know my first comment did not mean that top players study only with Bill. It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, if you know what I mean. He has just had such enormous success. Any French horn player getting a job in a major orchestra is a top player. Did you know that another finalist for the RCO principal horn was Bill’s student Ryan Little? David Cooper also studied with Bill. And Julia Studebaker, an American, was part of the same Chicago School as Bill– Dale Clevenger at Northwestern University. There’s a lot of talent on both sides of the pond.

          • Axl says:

            Okay! Thanks! Yeah I know what you mean! 😀 And, true! If we looking for student success and so on, Vermeulen is giant in that particular area. No, I didn’t know, because audition reports of orchestras almost never tell the finalists – only winners. I’ve never heard about Ryan Little. Glad to find and hear a new horn players. That is also intersting that David Cooper has studied with Bill. I’ve read Cooper’s bios so many time times, but never spotted Bill’s name. It’s sad, that David left Berlin Phil after one season. Now they have again try to find right guy to replace Baborak. Maybe Mr. Little would take part of that audition in March! I remember that Studebaker has trained in Chicago, but It was surprice that Vermeulen has also studied in Chicago. That was new for me!
            And yeah, there is lots of talent in both side of Atlantic. Good examples are my favorite players Eric Terwilliger and Stefan de Leval Jezierski. They are native Americans and got a good technical skills in America, but they have European (German) horn sound which is my favorite sound type. So the are good combo for both sides and “result” is awesome!

    • Craig says:

      Haha…good one