Position: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Oboe
Location: Armstrong Hall, Room 25
Phone: (540) 535-3570
Employed Since: 2012
Conservatory Professional Highlights:
Stephen Nicholas Key is the adjunct assistant professor of oboe at Shenandoah Conservatory and principal oboist for The New Orchestra of Washington. A native of Oklahoma, he had his first solo appearance at the Kennedy Center at fifteen, and has since performed throughout Europe and Russia.
As a soloist, he has performed with the Washington Chamber Orchestra, Washington Master Chorale, University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra as part of the school’s Pulitzer Prize Composer Festival, performing Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Oboe. Recently, he performed the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jan Wagner about which critics said, “I’ve never seen an oboe played like that… dynamics and phrasing were incredible… truly [bringing] the piece to life!” The New Orchestra of Washington premiered Key’s arrangement of Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin” in fall 2018; New York Critic, Oberon’s Grove, said of Stephen’s playing, “gorgeous performance… terrific, notable solos… rich, warm tone.”
Professionally, Key has played with the National Symphony Orchestra, Austin Symphony, Fairfax Symphony, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, Virginia Opera, the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio and the New World Symphony. Also, he has recorded with the Centaur Label and Albany Records. He attended the Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute, Aspen Music Festival and The International Festival-Institute at Round Top where he won the chamber music competition. He serves as faculty and performer for the NOWsummer Festival, and faculty for the Bocal Majortiy/Operation O.B.O.E. annual double reed camp.
In addition to his university engagements, Key also maintains a private studio based in northern Virginia. His students have successfully placed in the top chairs of the American Youth Philharmonic, Virginia All-State, and summer festival orchestras. His students have been accepted to competitive undergraduate and graduate programs with scholarships at schools such as The Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, McGill School of Music, Yale University, University of Michigan, University of Texas at Austin, University of New Mexico, University of Maryland, Hart School of Music and University of South Carolina at Greensboro.
Key studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Texas at Austin where he won the Butler School of Music Concerto Competition. His principal teachers include Rebecca Henderson, James Caldwell, Rudolf Vrbsky, Carol Stephenson and James Moseley. Also, he has been professionally coached by Elaine Douvas (the Met and The Juilliard School) and Katherine Needleman (Baltimore Symphony). Additionally, Key has composed works that have been performed at Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School.
Performance Diploma, Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Fields of Expertise:
Preparing young oboists for music careers of the future is tough yet rewarding work. At Shenandoah Conservatory, the students are motivated to meet those challenges. They always impress me with their ability to embrace tradition and seek innovation.
When not engaged in music, I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle through good diet and frequent exercise. Specifically, I enjoy practicing Ashtanga Yoga and recommend every musician pick up a yoga practice that works for them. I also enjoy interior design, architecture, cooking, gardening, and travel. Though a favorite past-time of mine will always be riding roller coasters.