Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Welcomes New Musicians

On the heels of raising approximately $17 million of its $25 million Musicians' Endowment Campaign goal, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Robert Spano are announcing the appointment of three new musicians for the 2015-16 season.

The three musicians include section bass, Karl Fenner, who will begin in January. He will join second horn, Ernesto Tovar Torres, and principal bass, Colin Corner, who both began performing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra earlier this season. Auditions are also underway for three additional positions.

The Musicians' Endowment is a restricted fund that will endow musicians' salaries and benefits in perpetuity and ultimately restore 11 positions to the Orchestra's complement.

About Karl Fenner

Houston native Karl Fenner joins the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bass section following seven years with the Colorado Symphony. Prior to his work with the Colorado Symphony, Fenner earned his bachelor's degree in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a master's degree in music from Rice University before a brief stint with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach. Fenner was a fellowship student at Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival, also performing with the National Repertory Orchestra and Music Academy of the West, and at Spoleto USA and the Festival Institute at Round Top.

After performing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for three weeks this fall, Fenner said joining the Orchestra feels like a sort of homecoming since he already has longtime friends and colleagues in the Orchestra, including violist Jessica Oudin, with whom he went to junior high, high school and college.

"I'm very excited to be joining the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra," he says. "It's wonderful to see so many friendly faces."

About Ernesto Tovar Torres

A Mexico native who grew up in Texas, Ernesto Tovar Torres' youthful passion for guitar evolved into a love for brass instruments in time for middle school. But it took a bit of persuasion to convert his enthusiasm for trumpet to a love of the french horn.

"In Mexico, you don't really see a french horn anywhere," Tovar said. I remember hating it. But I stuck with it for the fun of being in band."

Fortunately, during his sophomore year, a teacher pointed out that he was getting pretty good, and he started to take his music studies more seriously. By senior year, he was playing with the small Dallas-based New Life Orchestra.

Tovar went on to study music at Oklahoma State University, earning a bachelor's degree in horn performance. His professional career includes performances at world-class venues including Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Atlanta Symphony Hall and venues in Canada and Japan. He performed with the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Tulsa Symphony and the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, and at major events including the Eastern Music Festival, Texas Music Festival, Banff Masterclass for Strings and Winds and Spoleto USA.

Tovar heard about the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra auditions as he was beginning the second year of his master's study at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. A professor convinced him he was ready for the audition.

"I still can't believe I'm here playing with the Orchestra - I went from being a student to being a professional in a week," said Tovar, who at age 23 is the youngest member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. "I'm loving every second of it."

About Colin Corner

Indiana native Colin Corner says he was first drawn to the bass in the fourth grade in Indianapolis after middle school students performed a short demonstration concert for the grade school kids.

"I went up and tried the bass because nobody was in line for it," says Corner. "I plucked the string and the bass player said, 'Hey, you're a cool cat. You're a natural!' I must have plucked it just right. That's kind of how I was hooked."

Corner went on to graduate from Interlochen Arts Academy and received his bachelor's degree from Indiana University. The Hoosier received first place in the 2003 International Society of Bassists Orchestral Competition and was also a recipient of the Interlochen Double Bass Class Studio Award in 1997, which has since been renamed the Colin Corner Bass Award in his honor.

Corner served as associate principal bass in the Vancouver Symphony and assistant principal and section bass in the Louisiana Philharmonic in New Orleans. Prior to his autumn 2015 arrival at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Corner served as principal bass with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in New York for seven years following a two-year appointment as section bass with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Although it's Corner's first time living and working in Atlanta, by coincidence his bass has a strong connection to the city. One of his instruments, the one he auditioned on, was built by renowned Atlanta bass maker Albert Jackstadt. Corner bought it in 2001 from a shop in Cincinnati.

"That bass has always served me well for auditions," said Corner. "The sound of it is very clean and clear, and it's easy to play."

When he's not playing classical bass, Corner loves to play bass guitar, and he's hoping to start a jazz band with fellow local musicians.

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