Robert Sheena, oboe
Robert Sheena earned his B.M., cum laude, from the University of California, Berkeley and his M.M., also cum laude, from the Northwestern University School of Music. His primary oboe teachers were William Banovetz and Marc Lifschey in San Francisco, and Ray Still and Grover Schiltz in Chicago. He also studied privately with John Mack and Richard Killmer.
Sheena has been the Principal English horn player for the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and the Boston Pops Orchestra (BPO) since 1994. Highlights of Sheena’s BSO/BPO career include being featured as a soloist in Andre Previn’s Reflections (BSO, 1996) and Aaron Copland’s Quiet City (BSO/BPO, 2000). In 1999 and 2007, he performed the solo English horn in Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela with the BSO during subscription weeks in Symphony Hall. In June 2009, he was the featured soloist in Michael Daugherty’s Spaghetti Western for English horn and orchestra with Keith Lockhart and the BPO.
Sheena has been honored with several premieres and appearances as soloist (in addition to those at the BSO). Gabriel Gould’s Watercolors (1998) and William Pfaff’s During Wind and Rain (2005) are works that were commissioned expressly for him by David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony and Adam Grossman and the Master Singers of Lexington, respectively. In 1998, Sheena performed the world premiere of Daniel Pinkham’s Odes for English horn and Organ at the American Guild of Organists convention. More recently, renowned Boston area composer Marti Epstein wrote two works specifically for him: Quartet for English horn and String trio and Bloom for English horn and Wind Ensemble, the latter of which he premiered with The Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble in April, 2009; this piece was performed again with the Boston University Wind Ensemble in 2010.
Sheena makes frequent trips to perform in Japan. In August 2009, he traveled to Hiroshima as part of the International Affinis Chamber Music Festival, where he had the honor of playing with musicians from all over the world. In 2001, Sheena performed the famous solo from Dvorak’s Symphony from the New World with the Super World Orchestra and Lorin Maazel in Tokyo. He also enjoys playing Chamber Music in Tokyo with his BSO colleague, Oboist Keisuke Wakao.
Sheena serves on the oboe and English horn faculties of Boston University, The Boston Conservatory and the Longy School of Music. An alumnus of the Tanglewood Music Center (TMC), he now works with TMC Fellows in chamber music coaching and master classes at Tanglewood. Along with BSO principal oboe John Ferrillo, he co-directs an intensive two-week summer workshop for young oboists at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
Prior to joining the BSO, Sheena performed frequently as an extra with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. From 1987–1991, he was assistant principal oboe and solo English horn with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and with the San Antonio Symphony from 1991–1994.
→ More info may be found on The Boston Conservatory’s website.