Roger Kaza is principal horn of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and principal horn of the Chautauqua Symphony in upstate New York. He has previously held positions with the Houston Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony, the 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 has conducted over 40 concerts with 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 faculty of the University of Houston, the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and has previously taught at the Saint Louis Conservatory, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Southern Illinois University, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and given master classes at the University of Michigan, University of Iowa, University of British Columbia, Southern Methodist University, University of Southern Mississippi, the Eastman school of music, and others. Students from his many 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 and performer on the instructional CD, Audition: Improbable, and contributor to the syndicated NPR radio show “Engines of Our Ingenuity.”
Kaza has appeared as soloist with many orchestras, including the Saint Louis, Vancouver, and Houston Symphonies, and the Carlos Chavez Chamber Orchestra in Mexico City. A frequent chamber musician as well, he has appeared at numerous summer venues, including the Bravo! Vail Valley Festival, Music in the Mountains, Chamber Music Northwest, Mainly Mozart, Aspen and Marrowstone festivals. He presently serves as instructor of horn at the Chautauqua Institution’s Music School.
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 “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. Kaza testifies-from personal experience-that a Conn 8-D in its case will float, at least temporarily.
Roger is married to the pianist Patti Wolf and they have two daughters, ages 7 and 13.