Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Adam Koch – Acting Second Horn / Tenured Fourth Horn

Horn player, Adam Koch, and his wife, Kat, were at the Arts Festival last June which is where I originally met them.  Like the other three horn players, Adam was an enthusiastic participant in French Horn Week, so much so, that he agreed to let me record him playing the theme to the latest set of Star Trek movies.  Such a good sport!


Hometown: Olympia, WA

Alma Mater: Indiana University, B.S.O.F. French Horn Performance, Outside Field Business. –  1 year at Rice University, but was then selected for a position in Charleston.

Home Life: Wife, Kat and a Siberian Husky (GiGi)

Any fun hobbies? Playing the French horn started as a hobby but then turned into a career.  Photography (View Adams photos here).  I also work part-time as a vegan chef at The Wellness Forum in Worthington.

Why the French horn?  My parents liked the music from out of Africa which had great French horn parts, so I tried it.  And my parents told me “And if you’re really good, you can get a scholarship to college!”

Instrument: Engelbert Schmid


Close up of Adam’s French horn

How often do you practice? About an hour a day.  More when I am in ‘audition mode’

Who are some of your favorite French horn players?  Bill VerMeulen – my teacher at Rice, a great mentor, colleague, and friend.  He stays within the rules, but loves to stretch the limits.  He has some very fresh and cool interpretations of Mozart horn concertos, for example.


With what other ensembles have you played?  I occasionally sub with Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston and Cincinnati.  I also play with the New Albany Symphony, music festivals, small chamber groups, church gigs.

What’s the best thing about performing in front of an audience?  Sharing with them something that’s very important to us – to me – is like giving someone a surprise gift.

You know what it is, how awesome it is, you’re almost giddy with excitement!  I hope they enjoy it.  I hope they get that tingly feeling down their spine at the big moments.  That’s what I hope to share.

For myself, I hope for the same – that feeling of awe and the beauty inherent in the music.  You need both precision and abandon to make it beautiful.

Where are some great places to perform outside of Columbus? Steamboat Springs, Colorado – beautiful, mountains, mountain air, awesome food!  But I still like the Ohio Theatre – here, I’m surrounded by colleagues and friends.

Any memorable performances?  Beethoven 9 (even playing it 3-4 times, you still get something new.)  Mahler and Strauss are especially fun to play!  It was my first time doing the Rite of Spring this past year with live dancers on stage.  Very fun!

Which concert are you most looking forward to playing this year? Mahler #2, Resurrection.


Year joined the CSO: 2007

What brought you to Columbus?  This job!

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre? Both for different reasons – Southern for the smaller ensembles, Ohio for the larger.

What should people in Columbus know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra?  This is our full-time job, not a side thing.  Most of us spend many hours a day when not physically at work honing our craft and preparing mentally and physically for performances.

Sorry for making a football reference, but its similar to — the buckeyes! — They spend a lot of time at practice.  When not at practice, they’re jogging, lifting weights, studying plays.  Similarly, when not in rehearsal, we are jogging, lifting weights, studying music, practicing fundamentals, tweaking equipment, We’re athletes too!  Athletes of the small muscles!


What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music?  They just haven’t heard the right piece yet!

Who are your favorite composers? Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Bruckner, Mahler, R. Strauss, Arvo Pärt (not necessarily for the horn – he’s just really interesting!)

What’s your favorite musical era?  Romantic (everyday favorite), Baroque (Listens to Sunday Baroque on the radio with a cup of coffee)

What are your favorite pieces of music for the French horn? Anything by the above composers – anything with a lot of horns in it – anything where I can be a badass!  Bach Cello Suites are fun to play on the French horn! I’m A big fan of the Mozart and Strauss concertos but I really like later horn music.  Sonatas by Eric Ewazen, Halsey Stevens, Bernard Heiden.  I’m currently working on a really cool horn concerto by Reinhardt that jumps all over the range really fast.  Pretty flashy!

What French horn music should I have in my music library? Halsey Stevens Sonata for Horn and Piano, Obviously, the Mozart horn concerti.


I know you played a concert with the Cincinnati Symphony that was nothing by Star Trek / Star Wars.  Would you please play the latest theme to Star Trek?

SO – Any rival sections?  No idea, but we sound really good with the cellos!

And finally – Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird?  Genius.  Think of all the math he had to do to eventually find that common denominator to get us all back on the same beat!


Come back tomorrow to meet Associate Principal, Julia Rose!

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin LanoAdam KochJulia RoseGene Standley – Soul of the Orchestra – Thank you! 

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