Welcome to our new Principal Oboe, Juliana Koch

On Friday 1 June we welcome a new member of the Orchestra, Juliana Koch, who joins Olivier Stankiewicz as Principal Oboe.

Until recently Juliana has been Principal Oboe in the Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen (the oldest orchestra in the world), which plays in the Royal Danish Opera, and Principal Oboe in Milan in Teatro alla Scala / Filarmonica della Scala with its chief conductors Daniel Barenboim and Riccardo Chailly. She played as a regular guest in the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich chief conductor Kirill Petrenko. Last September she was awarded second prize (they didn't give a first prize), audience prize and another special prize in the ARD Competition in Munich – the biggest and most highly respected international competition for the oboe. As a result she received many opportunities to play solo repertoire with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchener Kammerorchester, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and Osnabrücker Symphonieorchester among others.

We asked her to introduce herself.

Tell us about yourself!

I studied in Munich with François Leleux, in Frankfurt with Fabian Menzel and worked additionally with Jacques Tys in Paris. While I studied in Munich I also experienced playing the Baroque oboe, which I studied with Saskia Fikentscher.

But I’m just as interested in contemporary music as I’m in Baroque music (was very lucky to work with Pierre Boulez and Heinz Holliger through the Lucerne Festival Academy) – and am looking very much forward to all the new repertoire that Simon Rattle has put on the schedule for the next season.

As my first job in Germany was also in a small opera orchestra I’m basically having a very big change now from opera to symphony orchestra – lots of new repertoire to learn!

What made you pick the oboe as your instrument of choice?

I started playing the oboe at the age 12, because the music teacher at my school desperately needed an oboe player for the school orchestra. They also lent me an instrument for free! After having been very enthusiastic for the recorder as a child, I fell for the oboe and got properly addicted to it through playing in various youth orchestras.

Who are your musical heroes?

Someone I really admire is Barbara Hannigan. I can’t wait for her to come to the LSO next season.

What made you choose the LSO?

Well, they chose me, and am, by the way still in shock about these news! I didn’t expect at all the decision to be made so early. I have never been so emotional about playing in any other ensemble before. They have such a unique way of approaching the music, fresh every single time. Everybody is listening so closely at any given moment, that the feeling when playing is very much chamber music like. Also there’s this way of always giving everything, always playing on the edge that makes the concerts such an alive experience.

What are you most looking forward to as a member? Any concerts leaping out at you? Any conductors you are excited to see on the list?

I can’t wait to play again with Simon Rattle. There’s also lots of exiting tours coming up such as in Japan and South America, where there's one concert 3500m above sea level!

What's your favourite tour destination?

New York! It was such an intense and very emotional time visiting with the LSO and Sir Simon Rattle just a few weeks ago. What a treat to be allowed to stay one week in this incredible city whilst playing Mahler 9! I can’t wait to go back.

Any other interesting things about you we should know?

Last summer while preparing for the ARD competition I got a bit into chess, and I’ve been playing ever since, though still very poorly I’m afraid... Otherwise I think I’m interested in life in general and enjoy very much being in the moment, no matter if that means learning a new skill or being deeply moved by music, literature or art, spending time with friends and family, cooking and eating great food, getting lost in a big city or discovering fascinating new research.

Juliana's first official concert with the LSO will be this Sunday, 3 June, with Gianandrea Noseda and Yefim Bronfman, performing Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Beethoven Piano Concerto No 3 and Ravel's Rapsodie Espagnol, before heading off on tour to Bangkok and China. Say hello if you see her!