Joined the RPO in 2007
Erik Behr has held the position of Principal Oboe at the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra since 2007, after serving as Principal Oboe at the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet. He has also served as a guest principal with several orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Nashville Symphony. During the summer season, Behr is the principal oboe of the Sun Valley Music Festival and played for many years with the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra. Additionally, he has performed at the Edinburgh International, Casals, Maribor, and Spoleto festivals.
Behr’s extensive repertoire includes a variety of concerto performances, including the premiere of Allen Shawn’s Oboe Concerto in 2018, which was commissioned for Behr and the RPO. Behr and his wife, RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde, serve as Co-Artistic Directors of the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester. In 2017, Behr premiered Guggenheim Fellow Adam Roberts’ Oboe Quartet, commissioned for Behr and SCMR. Behr recorded this work with the JACK Quartet and it was released by New Focus Recording in late 2021. Behr is committed to promoting new music, having works written for him by composers such as Jeff Tyzik’s Dance Suite for oboe and orchestra (2020) and Jim Willey’s Oboe Quartet (2021).
Behr’s musicianship has garnered praise from critics, who have described his playing as “bold and graceful” (Washington Post), “immaculate” (Sunday Tribune), and commended his “tremendous musicianship and sense of style” (Irish Examiner), as well as his “ease and eloquence” (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle).
Currently, Behr serves as an Adjunct Professor at Roberts Wesleyan College, and has served as a guest oboe teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Rice University. Behr has also held a position on the oboe faculty at the University of Houston and served as a visiting lecturer at Cornell University. During the summer, Behr teaches at the National Orchestral Institute + Festival and Carnegie Hall’s NYO-USA, as well as giving masterclasses internationally. Behr holds a B.M. (cum laude) from Arizona State University, a M.M. from Temple University, and a D.M.A. from Rice University, having studied with Robert Atherholt, Richard Woodhams, and Martin Schuring.