Backstage Pass: Adam Dinitz

Backstage Pass: Adam Dinitz

My son, Zach, helping me choose an English horn to purchase at the Lorée Factory
in Paris

Adam Dinitz joined the Houston Symphony in September 2007 as solo English horn. He held prior positions with the San Francisco Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, and the Sarasota Orchestra, and has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others. He has participated in summer festivals, including the Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Spoleto Festival USA, and St. Bart’s Music Festival. Adam has performed as soloist with the Houston Symphony and as a chamber musician with Da Camera of Houston, the Greenbriar Consortium, and the St. Cecilia Chamber Music Society. 

Adam joined the faculty of the University of Houston in 2014 and has given oboe and English horn masterclasses at many universities. A native of suburban Washington, D.C., he received a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University, and a Master of Music from Rice University. Adam lives in the Houston Heights with his wife, Amanda, who is the Major Gifts Officer with the Houston Symphony, and their son, Zachary.

You have a prominent solo in Sibelius’s tone poem, The Swan of Tuonela, programmed for our first ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights concert this month. Why do you think Sibelius chose to evoke the legendary swan with the English horn?

My wife, Amanda; son, Zach; and myself at the HS Magical Musical Morning event

The English horn’s rich tone and proclivity for long phrases lend themselves well to the image of a floating swan. In the story that inspired the piece, however, the hero is tasked with killing the swan! Hopefully, our performance will not put me under that kind of pressure.

How did you choose your instrument?

My parents started me on piano lessons at a young age, but I didn’t make much progress because I never had the patience to practice. I played the trumpet from fifth to seventh grade, until the band director asked if anyone would like to switch to the oboe. My response was, “What’s an oboe? Sure, I’ll do it!” Little did I know that I’d later be doomed to endless hours of reed making! I picked up the English horn in college, where all oboists are occasionally required to play this slightly larger instrument. I immediately took a liking to it.

What career would you pursue if you were not a musician?

My first two choices, PGA golfer and lottery winner, unfortunately have not panned out. However, I love movies. If I hadn’t become a musician, I think I would have pursued a career in film or television.

Amanda and I on vacation in Jackson, Wyoming, while staying with Barbara and Pat McCelvey

Would you like to share a particularly memorable moment from your career?
The concert in Vienna, one of the world’s major cultural capitals, was a highlight of the Houston Symphony’s European tour last March. My incredible colleagues, many of whom were ill with a nasty bug traveling through the orchestra, gave one of the most inspiring performances I have ever been a part of. It was thrilling to share the Houston Symphony’s high level of artistry in one of the world’s most important places for classical music.

Adam Dinitz is sponsored by Barbara & Pat McCelvey.

Top: Adam’s professional headshot

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