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Female Horn Player Breaks Brass Barrier At BSO06:12
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Rachel Childers, second from right, is the first female brass player in the history of the BSO. (Photo: Adam Ragusea/WBUR)
Rachel Childers, second from right, is the first female brass player in the history of the BSO. (Photo: Adam Ragusea/WBUR)

It might seem hard to believe, but since the founding of the Boston Symphony in 1881, the orchestra has never had a woman as part of its brass section. Until now.

Rachel Childers, 30, recently won the orchestra's second horn chair. Childers has described her new job as like winning the lottery, saying she went on every audition she could until she was finally hired by the BSO.

"I played very well on a good day to play very well," Childers said.

Auditioning for the BSO can be a long, grueling process, but it wasn't until after her audition that Childers realized there were no women in the orchestra's brass section.

It's not as though the Boston Symphony Orchestra is "anti-girl," Childers said. Far from it. The BSO is an institution where there's not much turnover, she said, so when a musician is hired by the orchestra, they typically keep the position until they retire.

Still, Childers said, "you would think that that would have been a barrier that was broken a long time ago." After all, it was back in the 1941 when the Chicago Symphony hired Helen Kotas to become the first female horn player for a major American orchestra.

Guest:

  • Rachel Childers, second horn, Boston Symphony Orchestra

This program aired on October 27, 2011.

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