Met loses principal oboe to Minnesota

Met loses principal oboe to Minnesota


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2022

The Minnesota Orchestra has named Nathan Hughes as its principal oboe. Hughes is currently principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and a teacher at Juilliard.

He says: ‘Joining the Minnesota Orchestra, an ensemble that has such a long, rich history and at the same time is forward-thinking, is truly an honor and privilege. I have admired the Orchestra since I first heard it as a young boy growing up in the Twin Cities, and I felt so warmly welcomed when I recently performed with the group. The collaborative spirit among these high-caliber musicians has developed into a wonderful atmosphere that encourages creativity, and the organization is very fortunate to be supported by a large community of music lovers. I look forward to coming to Orchestra Hall to make music with these amazing artists!’


  • MWnyc says:

    So he’s going back to his hometown, where he probably has family.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Big loss for the Met, but that was something waiting to happen. Hughes was at one point seen as the favorite for the Philadelphia position, which eventually went to Tondre.

    Now why would he want to live in Minneapolis (yes, I have been there), it’s another question – even keeping in mind that he grew up there; in fact, that much more…

    • Buck Hill Boy says:

      Because if you work at the Met, you have to live in New York City area. A far inferior quality of living than in the twin cities. I’ve lived in Minneapolis and in New York City, and I can tell you that he definitely made the right choice. More relaxed atmosphere, lots of art, theater, music. A very liberal community, great outdoor living: lakes, parks. The NYC metro area is a dumpster fire right now. The rats are jumping ship, and I don’t blame them one bit.

    • JARED N ROLSKY says:

      Qualify of life is much better than NYC. Orchestra Hall is a fantastic venue. The best sound I have ever experienced and I have been in many halls.

  • MacroV says:

    Well, that’s an interesting development. It’s not uncommon for people to leave the MET for other jobs – life is short, operas are long – and Minnesota is a great orchestra, so why not?

  • Opera lover says:

    Huge loss for the Met opera. Another incredible woodwind soloist leaving and this time for seemingly a lower tier job. Depressing

    • MacroV says:

      The MET is of course top tier – the house, the orchestra. But Minnesota is a great orchestra. Put them in Europe and you’d be mentioning them in the same breath as the biggest-name orchestras; there’s still a snobbery about U.S. orchestras outside the Big 5, 6, or 7.

    • Gerry says:

      C’mon. The Minnesota Orchestra is one of the best in the country. Besides, the guy was playing operas, which, for an instrumentalist, is a pretty boring task. This way, he will have an opportunity to play meatier and more interesting and IMPORTANT parts

      • Anon says:

        Not boring at all. What planet are you on? It’s great repertoire, very rich. But it’s also extremely demanding work. And despite this, the musicians are always undervalued in comparison to the singers.

        So it’s logical for a top notch wind player to move to a symphonic position. But it’s definitely not because playing opera is a “boring task”! In fact it’s pretty much the opposite, which is what makes it so demanding.

      • MacroV says:

        Have you heard Wagner or Richard Strauss?

      • David K. Nelson says:

        Opera, even the bel canto stuff, is not per se boring music for an instrumentalist. What is boring I suspect (never had the privilege – or the chops) is playing opera in repertory versus the different program every week of a symphony musician. The other side of the coin for the symphony musician is what passes for pops concerts these days, and certain concerto accompaniments.

  • tet says:

    Of the top orchestras, the Met suffers the highest turn-over and burn-out rate, even in pre-pandemic times.

    And then that’s what happens when the Met stopped paying its musicians, forcing them back to their hometowns, people realize home is pretty damn good compared to the performing arts in NY, which turns out in reality to be far less financially stable and infinitely more disloyal to artists, and downright cold-heartedly mercenary in their relationship to labor, and finally, where the artistic return is not worth the financial and moral toll suffered in NY but which can be had at home under far more humane financial and moral conditions.

    • Just saying says:

      Agreed. Nobody will ever acknowledge this out loud, but most of the performing arts in NYC is horribly overrated.

  • Bob says:

    Have you seen and been in NYC lately, i am not surprised at all. Besides the filth, smell of pot on every corner, and crime….the city is beyond expensive. Minnesota is a smart move. Congratulations!

  • A Pianist says:

    It is great to hear this praise for the Minnesota Orchestra and to, in that respect, see this high-profile defection. I remember when they were on the brink and it sounds like they have made a comeback worthy of their town.

  • NYMike says:

    The Met orchestra has two principals for almost all sections. Elaine Duvas is still playing and teaching at Juilliard.

  • Joseph says:

    I remember Nathan’s early work as Principal Oboe in the Seattle Symphony (prior to his appointment to the MET) quite fondly. He is a superb musician and good colleague. His Seattle friends wish him well in Minneapolis.

  • Just saying says:

    He’ll probably get a similar salary to what he had at the Met, or at least a cost of living that is a fraction of NYC metro area, and a much higher quality of living. Win-win!

  • Itsjtime says:

    Perhaps the shame here is that at this point in The evolution of American Orchestral Playing they hired an extremely “American oboist” who represents the worst of all American orchestral musicianship. The control is incredible but the musicianship is so dogmatic! He has less style than a bleached flour hot dog bun.
    There are some real oboists out there with personalities that appeal to more than the other robots behind the audition screens.

    • Timmy says:

      Can’t imagine what triggered you into making a comment like this, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.