Meet the Orchestra Header 2022

BFO Principal Brass


Albert Houde, Principal Horn

Albert Houde HeadshotBlending delicate sophistication with an all-out, high-octane approach to performing has earned Albert Houde praise for “standout horn playing” by the Palm Beach Arts Paper and his position as Principal Horn of the West Virginia Symphony. Over the past two decades, Houde has appeared on stages across the United States, performing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Music Festival, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and dozens more ensembles in hundreds of concerts. As a soloist, he has performed with the Reading, Lancaster, and River Cities Symphony Orchestras, among others, and will present Glière’s grandiose Concerto for Horn and Orchestra with the West Virginia Symphony in October.

Houde holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati and The Johns Hopkins University. He studied horn with several esteemed teachers, including Richard Deane, Randy Gardner, and Peter Landgren, and also studied respiratory function and sound production with David Fedderly, renowned expert on the teachings of Arnold Jacobs, and peak performance skills with Noa Kageyama, Ph.D., noted performance psychologist and author of The Bulletproof Musician.

In the Fall, Houde begins an appointment as Assistant Professor of Horn at West Virginia University. Houde and his wife, WVU viola professor Andrea Houde, live in Morgantown, West Virginia, with their four children. When he isn’t driving to and from track and band practices, he enjoys chatting about cooking, golf, roadsters, woodworking, and sci-fi.

Hayato Tanaka, Principal Trumpet

Hayato TanakaHayato Tanaka, the principal trumpet of Tucson Symphony Orchestra, is a rising star in the classical music field highly sought after by major orchestras throughout the U.S. His extensive orchestra performance career includes The Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. Mr. Tanaka studied under Michael Sachs and completed his Artist Certificate Program at Cleveland Institute of Music in 2015, the principal trumpet of The Cleveland Orchestra, and in 2017 graduated with Professional Studies Certificate Program from the Colburn School after studying under James Wilt, the associate principal trumpet of Los Angeles Philharmonic.

James T. Decker, Principal Trombone

James T. Decker, Principal TromboneHOMETOWN: Lubbock, TX
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: I have performed in a variety of professional ensembles, ranging from orchestras in Honolulu, New Mexico and New York to fine brass quintets, trombone quartets and various commercial groups. It's this variety that I draw upon to give me the energy and inspiration for each performance.
BACKGROUND/EDUCATION: I hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Julliard School as well as a Masters Degree in Music Education from
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Cristina Cutts Dougherty, Principal Tuba

Cristina Cutts Dougherty 23Cristina Cutts Dougherty grew up in South Africa, England, New York, and New Mexico, and was the 2016 Young Artist winner of the International Tuba Euphonium Competition. She went on to win the Grand Prize in the Pasadena Showcase Competition in 2017, and has appeared as a soloist with the Colburn Orchestra, in the Kennedy Center, and on the radio show Performance Today with Fred Child. As an active freelancer, Cristina has been a guest tubist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Louisville Orchestra. In 2022, Cristina became the tubist with the Seraph Brass. In Fall 2023, she will become the Principal Tubist of The Phoenix Symphony. Cristina studied at the Colburn School and the Curtis Institute, and her primary teachers have included Richard Antoine White, Thomas Riccobono, Norman Pearson, Paul Krzywicki, and Craig Knox.

2023 BFO Brass

Jeff Garza, Principal*
Albert Houde, Principal
John Degnan
, Horn II
Colin Bianchi, Horn III/Assistant Principal
Matt Eckenhoff, IV*
Brad Granville, IV
Michelle Hembree, Utility*
Jordan Dinkins, Utility
Lydia Van Dreel, Extra
Elizabeth Uzelac, Extra

Conrad Jones, Principal*
Hayato Tanaka, Principal
Kevin McKee*
Shea Kelsay
Joan Paddock+
Noah Duggan, Extra

Jim Decker, Principal+
John Bartlett+
Mike Becker+

Mike Becker+

Seth Horner, Principal*
Cristina Cutts Dougherty, Principal
Andy Abel, Extra
Caroline Earnhardt, Extra

Vicki Purslow, Extra

+ Orchestra Member for 20 or more years

* On leave for 2023