Neil Spaulding currently holds the position of Second Horn with the HPO. He studied French horn with Scott Wilson, Wayne Jeffrey and Eugene Rittich at the University of Toronto and with Ifor James in Freiburg, Germany. Neil has been a freelance musician performing with orchestras across Canada since 1990 and has been a musician with the HPO for the past 13 years. Read the Q&A with Neil below and discover more about your HPO.

What’s your earliest musical memory?
My earliest musical memory is in our living room in Toronto. I must have been about 3 years old. I remember watching my Dad listen to jazz. In particular I remember him tapping his foot to it. It must have made a big impression because I’ve always had the urge to move to music.

Why did you choose to take up your instrument?
In my primary school we were lucky enough to have a band. I really loved the trumpet (I think because I heard it playing “The Last Post” on Remembrance Day.) Anyway, the school already had enough trumpet players so they gave me a horn. The rest is history!

What can you tell us about your instrument?
Well, the first thing to know about the French Horn is that it isn’t French. It’s probably Czech or German. The name, however, comes from an 18th century London newspaper advertisement. Some horns had been shipped to London, presumably via France, to be sold. Hence the ad read “French Horns for sale”. The name obviously stuck….

Do you play any other instruments?
When it comes to musical instruments I am definitely a one trick pony. The horn is it. However, I really, really LOVE singing.

Do you remember your first performance with the HPO?
I sure do. It was as an extra musician in 1992. It was a pops concert and Howard Cable (a really great guy and still with us and performing at 94!!) was conducting. I remember being thrilled and nervous!

What’s your favourite memory with the HPO?
That is a really difficult one. There have been so many. I’ve forged some great friendships and had hilarious and meaningful times with my colleagues. There have also, of course, been a lot of great performances. I can’t pick out one but I would have to say that some of the performances we have been able to achieve in the last couple of years have really stuck with me. The Orchestra is playing so very well these days and it really means a lot to me to be able to be a part of it.

If you could grab a coffee with one composer, past or present, who would it be?
Hmmm…that’s tough because I would want to hang out with one who I could talk with on a bunch of different subjects. I think Beethoven was probably a pretty interesting guy so I guess it would be him.

Who are your artistic influences?
My influences are really broad. I mean from Count Basie, Pete Seeger, Brian Wilson, Lester Young to Brahms, Beethoven, Dennis Brain, Mozart, Prokofiev etc. etc. etc. However, I would say my biggest influences have been my colleagues.

What are you most looking forward to in the 2015-16 Season?
I’m really looking forward to working with our new Music Director Gemma New! We will be doing some exciting things with her, in particular our new family show “The Legend of the Northern Lights” as well as Shostakovich Symphony No. 1 and, of course, Cirque de la Symphonie. Can’t wait for this stuff!!

And just for fun… fill in the blanks!

Without music I would be ______.
a way less happy and fulfilled person.

Music makes me feel ______.
a million different ways, but mostly that life has actual meaning.

Music is ______.
the non-verbal expression of my emotional life.