David Hempel

Principal Oboe

Phyllis Fleming Chair

David Hempel was born in Cedar Rapids, but spent his K-12 years in Aurora, Illinois. His first orchestral experience was playing in the Fox Valley Orchestra, in Aurora, for two years in high school, under the direction of Francis Akos, the assistant concertmaster in the Chicago Symphony.


Iowa City, IA

Year Joined Orchestra Iowa

1969-70, then 1975

Education & Teachers:

BM, The University of Iowa, 1970

Principal teachers were James Lakin (Univ of Iowa); David Schneider (Philadelphia Orchestra, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia); and Robert Mayer (Solo English Horn and oboist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 23 years).

Favorite Symphonic Piece:

My all-time favorite is Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 (though between the ages of 4 and 9 my two favorites were Mozart’s Haffner Symphony and Schubert’s The Great Symphony in C Major — both on RCA Victor Red Label 78 rpm records).

Favorite Memory With Orchestra Iowa

I can’t think of just one! In recent years, I think my favorite three were: – Mahler 2nd Symphony – Shostakovich 1st Symphony – Prokofiev 2nd Violin Concerto (with spectacular soloist Augustin Hadelich)

How did you start playing your instrument?

In the middle of my sophomore year, my high school band director offered to give me free oboe lessons for a year if I’d switch from tuba to oboe. (He pulled out of the deal 6 months later, but managed to hook me up with a wonderful oboist/teacher in the Chicago Symphony…and I never looked back.)

Who are your musical inspirations?

Oboist Alex Klein, hornist Dennis Brain, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, conductors Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim, and opera singer/soprano Renee Fleming.

If you weren’t a professional musician, what career would you have?

Community organizer

List three things always found in your refrigerator:

Eggs, roasted vegetables, and peanut butter