Luke Baker

Horn

Hometown: Sugar Land, TX

Alma maters: Yale School of Music, M.M.; Southern Methodist University, B.M.

Photos by Matt Dine

Profile

Awards/Competitions: Finalist, 2018 International Horn Symposium Premier Solo Competition; 1st Place, 2017 International Horn Competition of America University Division; 1st Place, 2014 Meadows School of Music Undergraduate Concerto Competition; Runner-up, 2011 American Festival for the Arts Young Artist Competition

Appearances: Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Guest Principal Horn, 2018; Allentown Symphony Orchestra, 2017–18; Norfolk Music Festival, 2018; Sarasota Music Festival, 2018; National Repertory Orchestra, 2017; Music Academy of the West, 2016; Round Top Music Festival, 2014–15

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? I never considered a career in music until the very end of high school. I was enjoying many rewarding experiences and concerts with like-minded musicians and realized that I could not imagine a life without music at its core.

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century? Orchestras should offer a unique experience of unbridled virtuosic and musical excellence that innovatively strives to be both easily accessible and relatable to modern audiences.

Who is your biggest inspiration? Many people have helped shape me into the man that I am today, but a special shout-out goes to my dear friend Zac Bush. The integrity with which he lives his life and his selfless devotion to his wife and family are inspiring.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? Nell by Gabriel Fauré (recorded on horn by Greg Hustis). This short, two-minute song inspired me to realize that you don’t need 100 musicians, an ornate concert hall, and an hour-long symphony to move somebody on the deepest emotional level. All you need is a simple melody to gently tug on the strings of the heart.

Which genre of music do you feel you connect with the most? I enjoy many genres of contemporary and classical music, but simple art songs hold a special place in my heart.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? A difficult question . . . I was recently onstage performing the Mozart Wind Serenade in E-flat major with several of my peers as well as members of the New York Wind Quintet. It wasn’t necessarily the most flawless or profound rendition of that piece, but the performance was really special and exciting because many members of the ensemble were creatively embellishing and attempting new things in the moment. This sort of performance practice is a bit unnerving for the musician that attempts to be perfect all the time, but I think creative and exciting are better goals than perfect and predictable.

Do you have any embarrassing performance stories? . . . let’s not talk about that . . .

What is some advice you would give to your younger self? You are never too busy for new experiences. If there is something new that you want to try, you can always find/make time for it in your busy schedule.

Favorite non-classical musician or band: The David Crowder Band

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? Cello

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? I would probably be working in technical production and audio engineering. I had extensive experience volunteering for seven years and then doing several summer internships with top notch audiovisual technicians at my home church in Sugar Land, TX.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why? Breckenridge, CO. The stoic beauty of the mountains combined with endless recreational ways to explore them: hiking, skiing, mountain biking, snow shoeing, gondola rides, etc.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us I was a competitive ballroom dancer for about five years. I know about 25 different styles of partner dancing and still enjoy social dancing (swing, salsa, etc.).

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why? Dwight Schrute from The Office, Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, and Schmidt from New Girl. These three intense characters would make for one of the most interesting, hilarious, and exciting dinner experiences one could ever hope for. We would, of course, dine at Mulligan’s Steakhouse.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: “Don’t half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.” –Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation. Seriously though, go all in for whatever you love most. At the end of the day, if that isn’t a prestigious performance job in the limelight, there is no shame in that.