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SFCM's Oboe Powerhouse: Trio of Graduates Land Major Orchestra Roles

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Ben Brogadir, ‘20, Christina Gavin, ‘18, and Casey Kearney, ‘19 are currently performing with or joining the Oregon Symphony, Atlanta Opera, and Louisiana Philharmonic, respectively.

May 26, 2023 by Mark Taylor

They say all good things come in threes, and that has SFCM celebrating some recent exciting job wins. 

Oboe grads Ben Brogadir, ‘20, Christina Gavin, ‘18, and Casey Kearney, ‘19, have joined or will soon be joining three US symphony orchestras. That all three are celebrating recent wins out of the same school—and the same professors, is especially impressive given that open spots for major symphony roles for oboe and English horn are much rarer than, say, positions in the string section.

a photo of izotov with his oboe on a stool in the concert hall

Eugene Izotov.

Brogadir will join the Oregon Symphony as English hornist during the 2023-24 season in September. “I’m ecstatic!” Brogadir said, adding he “could not be more excited to start making music with my new orchestra in Portland.” Most recently Brogadir was playing with the San Francisco Opera and Berkeley Symphony. During his time at SFCM he studied oboe with Eugene Izotov. “My time studying with Eugene Izotov has been absolutely crucial in the development of my career. He has given me the tools and confidence needed to successfully win an orchestral audition, thrive through a tough trial week, and understand what it means to be a thoughtful colleague both musically and personally,” Brogadir said.

Casey Kearney joined the oboe/English horn section of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra last season, and officially joined the roster in 2023 after winning an audition for English horn/3rd oboe. While at SFCM Kearney also studied oboe with Izotov. For Izotov, seeing the success of his former students, whom he describes as fantastic players and lovely people, has been thrilling.

“Each musician has their own path filled with challenges, disappointments, and constant reminders that there are no guarantees in this profession. It brings me great joy to see [my students'] talents blossom during our work together at SFCM; their dedication, positivity, and work ethic will continue to serve them well in this exciting chapter." Izotov said. 

an oboe lesson

Russ deLuna and Christina Gavin.

Christina Gavin has been playing with the Atlanta Opera for several years, but recently was just appointed Principal Oboe after a successful audition. “I'm so grateful to be stepping into this new role at the opera!” Gavin said, “Looking back on my professional growth over the past few years, I am continually thankful for the experiences, guidance, and opportunities I received at SFCM. My teachers, Russ deLuna and Eugene Izotov, were pivotal in helping me hone my skills and confidence, and I truly appreciate their ongoing support and encouragement as I embark on the next step of my career,” she added.

As students become working professionals Izotov hopes they continue to work hard, but remember to take time and enjoy the moment. “As the late Bill Bennett, my friend and predecessor at the San Francisco Symphony, once told me when I won my first big audition,” Izotov continued. “‘You have worked hard, you have played by the rules, and your time has come.’”

Learn more about studying Oboe at SFCM.