May 6, 2015
Meet Marni J. Hougham
Marni J. Hougham is one of six Minnesota Orchestra musicians who hold two positions in the ensemble—since 1997 she has served as both English horn player and oboe section member. In May 2015 she was in the spotlight as a soloist in Aaron Copland’s Quiet City, alongside Principal Trumpet Manny Laureano. She took time to talk a bit about Quiet City, the Orchestra, her instruments and her background.
Q. Tell us a bit about Quiet City.
A. I love this piece, and I look forward to performing it with our string section and our Principal Trumpet Manny Laureano. It has such wonderful musical interplay between the trumpet and the English horn. And as with any piece of music, there is some sort of journey or story that unfolds, and I find that allowing myself to experience where that journey is going to take me is exciting.
Q. How do you prepare for performing a solo such as this?
A. I have to practice and make reeds...and then practice more and make more reeds!
Q. What do you enjoy about the Minnesota Orchestra?
A. We have a very special group of musicians here in our Orchestra, and I love the passion our Orchestra has for the music. And we have some silent heroes among us—our amazing stage crew. We musicians count on them for everything.
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring oboists?
A. The oboe is an instrument that you need to work on with a private teacher. One needs to listen to many recordings of different orchestras playing any given piece of repertoire. Go hear orchestra concerts as often as possible—and if you’re very serious about playing the oboe, learn to makes reeds as soon as possible.
Q. When you’re not performing, what do you enjoy doing for fun?
A. I love quilting, as well as taking walks with my husband and our two yellow labs. My Husband and I are big Star Trek fans, so naturally our dogs have women of Star Trek names: Neela and Anara.
Q. Tell us a bit about your family and how you ended up in Minnesota.
A. Musicians in the orchestra world are not able to pick and choose where an orchestra job will be—we audition when a position becomes available, wherever that may be. Winning the English horn position in the Minnesota Orchestra was very special because we already had family in the Twin Cities. My sister Andrina Hougham and her husband Walter Krebsbach and their family live just down the street from us, and I am married to former Minnesota Orchestra Principal Clarinetist Burt Hara’s brother, Craig. Craig is a classically-trained trumpet player, a drummer who plays in all styles, also performs on guitars and bass, and has been an active educator in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Q. Other than classical music, what other types of music do you enjoy listening to?
A. Jazz (Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Mike Stern), rock ’n roll (Flying Colors) and anything by Joni Mitchell.
Q. What’s one of your favorite memories from your career before you joined the Minnesota Orchestra?
A. An interesting place that I have worked was in Cape Town, South Africa. I was the second oboe in the Cape Performing Arts Board in the Opera and Ballet Orchestra. It was my first professional job, and it was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Cape Town is a very picturesque city, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Table Mountain on the other side. I loved visiting the wildlife reserves—seeing the wildlife from my car window is something I’ll never forget.
Listen to Marni's English horn solo in a 2002 Minnesota Orchestra recording of Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela, conducted by Eiji Oue, using Spotify: