Stephen Hammer enjoys a varied musical life playing and teaching oboes of all periods. He is principal oboist of the Boston Handel and Haydn Society, the Aston Magna Festival, Concert Royal, the Bach Ensemble, the Arcadia Players, Clarion Music Society, and the Columbia Festival Orchestra, and plays recorder regularly with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. His more than two hundred solo, chamber and orchestral recordings appear on Decca L’Oiseau-lyre and many other labels. He was also a co-founder of the New York Collegium, and served as its first artistic director.
Mr. Hammer teaches oboe, performance practice, and the rhetorical elements of Baroque style at Longy as well as the Bard College Conservatory Music and the Aston Magna Early Woodwinds workshops at Brandeis University. He also collaborates with instrument-maker Joel Robinson in building replicas of historical oboes. He studied oboe with Robert Sprenkle, Wayne Rapier, James Caldwell, and Fernand Gillet, and is a graduate of Oberlin College.
“I believe that the most important task in performing a piece of music is to thoroughly understand its message, including affect, emotional content, genre, and historical context, and to deliver that message in the most compelling way possible. Of course part of that skill is understanding your instrument and developing complete control of the sounds coming out of it, but in the end our art is more about software than hardware. A dear friend used to say that “early music” (or its cousin “historically-informed performance”) really means taking music from any period on its own terms, and this idea has remained central to my teaching philosophy on both early and modern instruments.”