The six new members include assistant principal second violin, three bass players, principal horn and principal librarian


The six new appointees at Chicago Symphony Orchestra |

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has announced its recent intake of musicians as it begins its 2023-24 season. Riccardo Muti, now the orchestra’s music director emeritus for life, made the appointments, following the final auditions at the end of 2022-23.

The new appointments are Danny Yehun Jin, assistant principal second violin; bassists Ian Hallas, Alexander Horton and Andrew Sommer; Mark Almond, principal horn; and Justin Vibbard, principal librarian.

Originally from South Korea, violinist Danny Yehun Jin made his debut as a soloist with the Seoul Royal Symphony at the age of nine. Co-concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster of the Music Academy of the West Orchestra in 2023, Jin has also recently appeared as a soloist with the Seoul Philharmonic, Suwon Philharmonic and Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

Jin received fifth prize at the Menuhin Competition Beijing in 2012 and won the Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s second Young Artist Competition in 2016. After studying at Korean National University of Arts and the Korean National School for the Gifted in Arts, Jin received his bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in 2023 as a Sandra G. and David G. Marshall Fellow. At Curtis, he was a student of Ida Kavafian and Erin Keefe.

The three bass appointments join the CSO having held principal bass roles elsewhere. Bassist Ian Hallas previously served in the bass section of the Lyric Opera Orchestra from 2016 and was appointed its principal bass in 2019. He was also the principal bass for the 2022 season at Santa Fe Opera. Hallas was an award-winning fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, recognised with Tanglewood’s prestigious Maurice Schwartz Prize in 2013, and was invited to be a guest chamber musician at Spoleto Festival USA, where he performed with the St. Lawrence Quartet and members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

As an educator, Hallas is on the faculty at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music and maintains a private studio in Chicago’s north suburbs. He also teaches at the National Music Festival and was a teaching assistant at the Double Base Workshop at BUTI.
 Hallas studied at Rice University with Paul Ellison and the University of Southern California with David Moore. He has also been influenced by bassists Chris Hanulik and Todd Seeber and has worked extensively with master luthier Mike Shank.

Originally from Tallahassee, Florida, Alexander Horton began his career as an orchestral musician and music educator when he was appointed principal bass of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in 2017. He has also performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Grant Park Orchestra, and received fellowships to the Aspen Music Festival, Marrowstone Music Festival and National Music Festival.

Horton studied at Florida State University with Melanie Punter, and completed one year of graduate study at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music as a student of Bruce Bransby before joining the ASO. He has served on the faculties of Auburn University, Samford University, the University of North Alabama and Birmingham-Southern College.

Originally from Atlanta, Andrew Sommer served as principal bass for the Richmond Symphony Orchestra since 2019, and as a substitute for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He spent three summers as a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Verbier, Switzerland, and was a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, where he performed with the Aspen Chamber Symphony. He also performs with the chamber orchestra Taiwan Connection.

In addition to his orchestral work, Sommer enjoys playing bass in other genres and performed at the 2013 Grammy Awards ceremony with the Grammy Jazz Combo alongside Latin superstar Juanes. He is a graduate from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Albert Laszlo, and also studied with Leigh Mesh and Hal Robinson. His jazz mentors include Kevin Bales and John Patitucci. His father, the late Douglas Sommer, was his first mentor and teacher and was a bassist and educator, who was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for 25 years.

Principal horn appointment Dr. Mark Almond hails from Bolton, UK, and has previously served as associate principal horn of the San Francisco Symphony, co-principal horn of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and third horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra, London. He studied medicine and virology, working as a respiratory physician in teaching hospitals before becoming a full-time horn player.

Principal librarian appointment Justin Vibbard replaces Peter Conover, who retired earlier this year. He was appointed principal librarian of the Florida West Coast Symphony (now the Sarasota Orchestra) in 2004 and has since provided library services for numerous festivals, universities and orchestras across the US. He has been a member of the Major Orchestra Librarians Association since 2000; he has served on the MOLA Publications Committee for many years and as a speaker at several annual conferences.

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