Cally Banham has been a proud member of the St. Louis Symphony since 2006, when she was appointed to the Solo English horn position by Music Director David Robertson. Before joining the St. Louis Symphony, she held many posts, including English horn with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Principal Oboe with the Memphis Symphony, Fellow with the New World Symphony, and English horn with Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico, in Toluca, Mexico. She has been featured as a soloist numerous times with the St. Louis Symphony, most recently in the fall of 2014 with Sibelius's Swan of Tuonela. She has performed nationally and abroad at various festivals, among them Tanglewood, UBS Verbier Festival in Switzerland, Spoleto USA, Pacific Music Festival in Japan, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, and the Bellingham Music Festival.
Banham is the Oboe and English horn Teacher of Music at Washington University Saint Louis. She has held a private teaching studio for 20 years and has given more than 100 educational demonstration concerts in St. Louis elementary schools. She also teaches in the master class setting and coaches the oboe students of the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Hailed by the New York Times for "supremely beautiful playing and graceful virtuosity," and by the Boston Globe for playing "outstanding in quality of tone and eloquence of phrase," Banham has performed as a guest in the principal English horn chairs of the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra.
In 2013 Banham transformed her hobby of dancing Argentine Tango into a musical pursuit. She founded Cortango, a Tango dance band with a symphonic twist, featuring colleagues from the St. Louis Symphony and St. Louis jazz musician Adam Maness. Cortango performed live more than 20 times in its first two years, and released its debut album, Tandas, in May of 2015. As the founder and leader of Cortango, and Executive Producer of Tandas, Banham appeared as a guest on the PBS national program Arts America.
A native of Philadelphia, Cally Banham attended Temple University and studied with the late renowned Philadelphia Orchestra English hornist Louis Rosenblatt. She later moved to New York and received a Masters from the Manhattan School of Music, as a scholarship student of Joseph Robinson, New York Philharmonic Principal Oboist emeritus.
Announcing the release of Cor Christmas, an instrumental collection of sacred and secular carols featuring the soulful sound of the English horn, performed by Saint Louis Symphony Solo English horn player Cally Banham. Featured on the album are Banham's own ensemble Cortango, Adam Maness Trio, and Trombones of the Saint Louis Symphony. Cor Christmas presents a varied journey through popular Christmas tunes, presented in a fusion of classical and jazz styles and reimagined in new and sonorous arrangements!
For members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the holiday season brings a yearly dusting-off of some old chestnuts. As the month of December goes on, the SLSO calendar becomes less a showcase for the works of Bruckner or Mendelsohn and more a repository of holiday shows and Christmas pops matinees.
Cally Banham, a symphony musician who is normally featured on the English horn, notes that the SLSO's programmers walk a line between popular, seat-filling favorites and newer holiday fare. "I think it is a little bit of a challenge for them to come up with something fresh; there are obviously things that are tried and true, the warhorses of Christmastime like selections from The Nutcracker, that will never get old or tired," she says.
Banham is always happy to play the holiday hits; her English horn even gets a prominent role in a few of those Nutcracker selections. But this year Banham has added her own spin on a range of Christmas tunes from the sacred to the secular with her album Cor Christmas. Befitting her pedigree, there are plenty of orchestral assists from her SLSO chums on strings, brass and percussion. But across thirteen tracks, Banham collects a varied stretch of arrangements and moods that push Cor Christmas outside the realm of classical music. CELESTE BOYER PHOTOGRAPHY
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At first glance, I assumed this CD from the assistant principal oboe - and Solo English horn position - of the Saint Louis Symphony (SLS), Cally Banham, would be flat-out Muzak. Boy oh hautboy, was I ever wrong. Intimate, warm, plaintive, whimsical, fresh, and full of heart, this holiday treat not only leaves you with a glow, but bears repeat listenings. All the songs are given inventively original arrangements by Banham, pianist Adam Maness, and/or Adam De Sorgo, current principal oboe of Sarasota Orchestra.
There is one other arranger: The supremely gorgeous arrangement of "Silent Night" comes courtesy of Mannheim Steamroller's Chip Davis. But it is given emotional heft by Cortango, a sextet with the unlikely grouping of cor (Banham) and bass (David DeRiso) mixed with a piano quartet of violin (Asako Kuboki), viola (Chris Tantillo), cello (Melissa Brooks), and piano/guitar (Mr. Maness). (With all but Maness members of SLS, they call themselves a Tango, Classical and Jazz Fusion orchestra.)
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