Meet the Musician: Assistant Principal Hornist Nathaniel Silberschlag

Where did you grow up? Do you come from a musical family?

I grew up very close to Washington, DC, in a small town in Southern Maryland called Leonardtown.

I come from a very musical family. In fact, I think, we total 17 professional musicians. I was actually the ninth member of my family to attend the Juilliard school, and their is already a 10th! My mother and father both met while they were principals in the Jerusalem Symphony. My father plays trumpet and my mother plays bassoon. My older brother also plays trumpet, he currently is principal of the Hawaii Symphony orchestra.

What made you decide to play horn?

To be honest I don’t exactly remember, but I apparently started when I was 3 years old. My parents chose the instrument for me and actually had a custom one made that was smaller called a “KinderHorn.” Though I can say that I really can’t imagine playing any other instrument.

Nathaniel with his father at one of his earliest performances.

What is your position in the orchestra?

I am Assistant Principal Horn.

KCOHO Horn Section

You are one of four new members of the orchestra this season. What was it like auditioning for the orchestra?

This being my second professional audition, I didn’t try to go in having super high expectations. I wanted to execute to the best of my ability and just play music. Obviously I had regular audition day nerves which I tried to counteract with meditating, visualization, etc, but walking into the Kennedy Center already felt like a very familiar place that I was comfortable in. As I advanced through the rounds it started to become reality to me that I could really win this audition, but my goal never really changed. I still just tried to be the best me I could be, and have fun playing the music.

Where did you go to school to receive your musical training?

I am actually still currently in my final year of studies with Julie Landsman at the Juilliard school.

Before that, I actually spent a lot of time in the Kennedy Center growing up! I am a graduate of the National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship program under the tutelage of Sylvia Alimena, and spent 2 summers in their Summer Music Institute.

Nathaniel and Juilliard horn players with teacher Julie Landsman, and Gustavo Dudamel after a Mahler 2 performance at Music Academy of the West.

Have you had much opera experience before joining the orchestra?

I have had some; performing 2 full opera productions during my time at Juilliard was so much fun.

Playing an opera by Poulenc titled “Les mamelles de Tirésias,” and an opera titled “Káťa Kabanová” by Leoš Janáček.

What do you like to do when you aren't playing horn?

I love film. Whether it’s going to the movies or just watching one at home I Love probably every film genre there is.

Although some say I am vertically challenged, I still enjoy playing basketball with friends, along with keeping up with lots of sports.

Also I am a huge bagel enthusiast.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Besides getting acclimated to life in DC, and getting to know all my new colleagues in the orchestra, I am probably most looking forward to our production of Puccini’s Tosca!

Act III of Tosca opens with a huge horn section soli that I can’t wait to work on with my friends in the horn section!

Nathaniel, the youngest member of the orchestra, with Bob Odmark, the oldest member of the orchestra.