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James Sommerville

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James Sommerville is a Canadian orchestral hornist and conductor. He was the current principal hornist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and former Conductor and Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic, in Hamilton, Ontario.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Sommerville was born in Women's College Hospital in Toronto in 1962. He attended high school at UTS and later studied at the University of Western Ontario with Robert Creech and then at the University of Toronto with Eugene Rittich.[2]


Sommerville was associate principal horn of the Montreal Symphony (Montreal Symphony Orchestra) (1986–1991), acting principal horn of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (1996–1998), and third horn of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1997). He was principal horn of the Canadian Opera Company and Symphony Nova Scotia. Sommerville joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as principal horn in 1998.[3] ≈He directed the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra from 2007 to 2015.[1]

Sommerville has also performed and recorded internationally as a chamber musician and soloist and teaches at the Longy School of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. He is heard on recordings on CBC, Marquis,[4] Deutsche Grammophon, and Decca labels.

Sommerville inspired the creation of Elliott Carter's 2006 Horn Concerto, which he premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in November 2007.[5][6]

He gave his last performance as principal horn with the BSO in November 2022.


  1. ^ a b "THE SCOOP | Boston Symphony Orchestra To Tour Canada This March". Musical Toronto, By Michael Vincent on January 17, 2017
  2. ^ "Horn o' Plenty: Archived copy" (PDF). Western News. March 3, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-03-12. Retrieved 2011-03-06.
  3. ^ "Sommerville says it’s time, he’s leaving the HPO". Hamilton Spectator, Sep 13, 2013 By Leonard Turnevicius
  4. ^ "James Sommerville - Discography". Archived from the original on May 25, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2007.
  5. ^ Carter, Elliott (2006). "Horn Concerto". Boosey & Hawkes. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  6. ^ Eichler, Jeremy (November 17, 2007). "Music Review: Basking in a composer's Indian summer". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 30, 2016.

External links[edit]