Luke Baker

Horn

Hometown: Sugar Land, TX

Alma maters: Yale School of Music, M.M.; Southern Methodist University, B.M.

Website: lukebakerhorn.com

Facebook: @LukeBakerHorn

Photos by Matt Dine

Profile

Awards/Competitions: Finalist, 2018 International Horn Symposium Premier Solo Competition; 1st Place, 2017 International Horn Competition of America University Division; 1st Place, 2014 Meadows School of Music Undergraduate Concerto Competition; Runner-up, 2011 American Festival for the Arts Young Artist Competition

Appearances: Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Guest Principal Horn, 2019; Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Guest Principal Horn, 2018; Allentown Symphony Orchestra, 2017–18; Norfolk Music Festival, 2018; Sarasota Music Festival, 2018; National Repertory Orchestra, 2017; Music Academy of the West, 2016; Round Top Music Festival, 2014–15

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? I never considered a career in music until the last few years of high school. I was blessed with some phenomenal music teachers, including my high school band director, Joe Pruitt, and horn teacher, Gavin Reed. I participated in a few competitions and auditions with surprising success. This opened doors for me to work alongside some incredibly talented people that helped me realize that I could not imagine my life without music at its core.

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century? Orchestras should offer an exciting, unique, and sophisticated experience of unbridled artistic and virtuosic excellence that innovatively strives to be both easily accessible and relatable to modern audiences.

Who is your biggest inspiration? Many people have helped shape me into the man that I am today, but a special shout-out goes to my dear friend Zac Bush. The integrity with which he lives his life and his selfless devotion to his wife and family is inspiring.

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most? I enjoy many genres of contemporary and classical music, but simple art songs hold a special place in my heart.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? Nell by Gabriel Fauré, recorded on horn by Greg Hustis. This short, two-minute art-song helped me realize that you don’t need 100 musicians, an ornate concert hall, and an hour-long symphony to move a person on the deepest emotional level. The simplicity of a humble melody can gently tug on the strings of the heart.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? A difficult question, so many to choose from. . . . I thoroughly enjoy coordinating and performing solo recitals and competing in solo competitions. Something about having complete artistic liberty and holding the success or failure of the entire concert in the palm of your hand is quite invigorating for me. In the next few years I would like to record my first solo album.

Do you have any embarrassing performance stories? . . . Let’s not talk about that . . .

What is some advice you would give to your younger self? You are never too busy for new experiences or hobbies. If there is something new that you want to try, you can always find/make time for it in your busy schedule.

Favorite non-classical musician or band: David Crowder Band, Thousand Foot Krutch, and Pentatonix

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? Cello . . . really anything but the oboe

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? I would likely be working in technical production and audio engineering. I have had extensive experience both volunteering and professionally working with top-notch audiovisual technicians at my home church in Texas and in the Fred Plaut Recording studio.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why? Breckenridge, CO. The stoic beauty of the mountains combined with endless recreational ways to explore them: hiking, skiing, mountain biking, snow shoeing, gondola rides, etc.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us: I was a competitive ballroom dancer for about five years. I know around 25 different styles of partner dancing and still enjoy social dancing (swing, salsa, etc.).

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why? I suppose they are more characters than people, but Dwight Schrute from The Office, Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, and Terry Jeffords from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. These three intense men would make for one of the most interesting, hilarious, and exciting dinner experiences one could ever hope for. We would, of course, dine at Mulligan’s Steakhouse.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: “Don’t half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.” –Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation. Seriously, though, go all in for whatever you love most. At the end of the day, if that isn’t the most coveted, prestigious position in the limelight, there is no shame in that.