Ashley Cumming, French horn

Meet Ashley Cumming, French horn, who will be playing the Horn Concerto No.3 in E-flat major, K 447 in our February concerts.


This UVic graduate is currently at Indiana University, studying with Jeff Nelsen of the Canadian Brass. She likes to say that she went to the United States to study with a Canadian. Her DM (Doctor of Music) degree, which she began in August, will take about three years to complete. She writes,

I am loving the program and diversity of classes here —and as it is a large school, there’s always plenty to play and plenty to see!

Ashley Cumming, who hails from Ontario, studied with Kurt Kellan at UVic and obtained a Masters in Music Performance. She enjoyed her years in Victoria and says she misses the sailing, the mountains, and the seals.

She was delighted to win the Johann Strauss Scholarship for study in Austria. The summer of 2008, she spent a month traveling and studying in Vienna, Salzburg and tiny, idyllic country towns housing unbelievable summer programs. She says,

Not only did I learn a great deal and perform many fantastic concerts, but it was an incredible cultural experience to be in programs where I was the only North American, or native English speaker.

Ashley began playing the horn in Grade 7 band class. She writes:

I don’t know if I had ever really heard the horn or even seen one up close when I put it at the top of my list. I should have heard the warning bells of what I was getting into when anxiously I asked my teacher if she thought I’d get my first choice. She said, “If I have 25 students pick the French horn, I will find 25 horns for them to play!”

I’m not too sure why it was the horn that I was drawn to, but now I am thrilled. The horn has such a beautiful, warm, rich dark tone and is such a chameleon. The horn binds the wind section, bridges the colours and sounds of the brass section, and adds depth and colour and enhances the string writing. No other instrument is so versatile and is found in so many diverse combinations as the horn. What is more, I have the best music of any instrument. Every day I get to play the greatest lines ever composed. I am the love theme, I am the hero, I am the triumphant warrior, and if that’s not enough, at the end of the day you’ll be hearing me as the theme for Harry Potter. All in a day’s work and no reason to complain!


I am looking forward to playing Mozart’s third horn concerto with the Sooke Chamber Players, as it is one of the best known concerti of our repertory. It demonstrates the elegance, playfulness and beauty of the horn, refers to our hunting roots in the last movement and predicts our lyrical future in the second.

This year’s all-Mozart concerts are February 6th (Sooke) and February 7th (Metchosin).

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