Laila Storch: a living oboe legend. At almost 100 years young, her generous spirit is as strong as ever. She has given all of us in the double reed community a direct lifeline to the past.
A student of Marcel Tabuteau, Laila Storch graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1945—the first woman oboist to do so. Her appointments included Kansas City Philharmonic, Houston Symphony Orchestra (1948–55), National Symphony, Chicago Little Symphony, and Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, the Carmel and Bethlehem Bach Festivals and Casals Festival (1950–53, 1965–68) working across her career with a series of esteemed conductors including Pablo Casals, Efrem Kurtz, Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Sir Thomas Beecham and Ferenc Fricsay. In 1955 a Fulbright Grant took her to Vienna to study eighteenth-century oboe concertos. In Austria she was a member of the American Wind Ensemble of Vienna, and during the 1957–58 season she played principal oboe in the Mozarteum Orchestra in Salzburg. In 1962 she joined the Robert Shaw Chorale on a tour to Eastern Europe and the USSR, and from 1963 to 1965 taught on the faculty of SUNY Binghamton. She then replaced James Caldwell as oboist of the Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet which at that time was resident in Puerto Rico. With the quintet, she relocated in 1968 to Seattle, where she was Professor of Oboe at the University of Washington up to 1991. She has been visiting professor at Indiana University and the Oberlin Conservatory, and the Central Conservatory of China in Beijing (1989), given masterclasses and judged for numerous competitions including the Fernand Gillet, Isle of Wight and Lucarelli International Oboe Competitions. And, of course we all know her book about Marcel Tabuteau—How Can You Expect to Play the Oboe if You Can’t Peel a Mushroom?
Laila has also been an active member of the IDRS from the very beginning, and is the Society’s longest living honorary member. In the very first issue of To the World’s Oboists, Dan Stolper announced that Laila Storch had agreed to write for the publication.