From the instrument case – An English Horn rarely comes alone

By Annette Zerpner April 24, 2023


Iria Folgado © Tobias Kruse / OSTKREUZ

There is room for two in the case of our principal English hornist Iria Folgado – her English horn shares it with her oboe. That doesn’t make the case any lighter. Fortunately, the two double-reed instruments don’t require everything in their shared flat to be duplicated, though they still need a considerable amount of items.

In addition to her two instruments, the oboe and the English horn, which is a fifth lower and has a striking, pear-shaped bell, Iria has an array of things in the case needed for reed-making: Canes in various stages of readiness, knives, pliers and extra reeds, mandrels, wire and thread, ferrules and fish skin. To moisten the canes with water, she uses what was once a jam jar (others use a film canister – as long as it doesn’t leak). A drinking bottle should always be there to quench one’s own thirst. The green and red cloths are pulled through different parts of the instruments after playing to dry them. And of course, there is cigarette paper in case a key gets stuck. Once again, moisture is usually to blame for this.

A closer look at Iria’s ambulant reed workshop for oboe and English horn. “With two double-reed instruments, I spend even more time than usual making reeds,” she says. But she’s not the only one on double-duty: “My boyfriend is a bassoonist – and a contrabassoonist!”

An important concert for Iria, who sits with her English horn to the far right of oboist Kihoon Hong and principal oboist Michaela Kuntz. There is an extended solo for her instrument in the adagio of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8. “This was in March 2022, when I was still in my probation period,” she says. “On the one hand, a solo like that is a great opportunity; on the other hand, everything has to work out perfectly.” It did! You can see principal conductor Christoph Eschenbach congratulating Iria in clarinet colleague Norbert Möller’s shot below, and Iria’s probation period ended shortly afterwards. Incidentally, Iria is from Galicia in Spain and shares her English horn position with a colleague.

Photos: Tobias Kruse/Ostkreuz (cover portrait); Markus Werner (case; oboe group); Norbert Möller (Christoph Eschenbach congratulates Iria Folgado).


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