Portrait of Roger Kaza


Roger Kaza

W.L. Hadley and Phoebe P. Griffin Chair

Roger Kaza rejoined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as Principal Horn in the fall of 2009, after 14 years with the Houston Symphony. He was previously a member of the SLSO horn section from 1983-95, and prior to that held positions in the Vancouver Symphony, Boston Symphony, and the Boston Pops, where he was solo horn under John Williams. A native of Portland, Oregon, he attended Portland State University, studying with Christopher Leuba, and later transferred to the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he received a Bachelor of Music with Honors in 1977 under the tutelage of Thomas E. Newell, Jr.

Kaza’s musical activities are wide-ranging. The son of two musicians, growing up in a musical family, he received his early training on piano, giving two solo recitals on that instrument before concentrating on horn. He has studied composition with the Czech-American composer Tomas Svoboda, and conducting with Leonard Slatkin, Gunther Schuller, and Murry Sidlin. He conducted over 40 concerts with members of the Houston Symphony under the auspices of its Community Connections outreach program, giving concerts in schools, churches, homeless shelters, and retirement homes.

As an educator, Kaza has served on the faculties of the University of Houston, Rice University, St. Louis Conservatory, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and has given master classes at the Eastman School, Juilliard School, Indiana University, University of Michigan, and many others. Students from his years of teaching fill orchestral positions worldwide, including principal players in major U.S. symphonies, and chamber groups such as the Canadian Brass. In addition, he has been engaged as guest artist and performer for the International Horn Society at international and regional conferences. He is the writer/producer/performer of the instructional CD, Audition: Improbable, and a contributor to the syndicated NPR radio show and podcast, Engines of Our Ingenuity.

Kaza has appeared as soloist with many orchestras, including the St. Louis, Vancouver, and Houston symphonies, and the Carlos Chavez Chamber Orchestra in Mexico City. A frequent chamber musician as well, he has performed at numerous summer venues, including the Bravo! Vail Valley Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Mainly Mozart, and the Aspen and Marrowstone festivals. He presently serves as instructor of horn at the Chautauqua Institution’s Music School, where he is also Principal Horn of the Chautauqua Symphony.

An avid bicyclist, hiker, and whitewater rafter, Kaza is especially fond of the horn in its “original” setting: out-of-doors. A performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Interstellar Call,” from his suite From the Canyons to the Stars, recorded at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, was personally critiqued by the composer shortly before his death in 1992.

Concerts + Events

There are many ways to share your love for music with us. From our family concert series to specialty concerts, the SLSO has Symphony events for every visitor.