James Gorton, Co-Principal Oboist, Mildred S. Myers and William C. Frederick Chair, joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1971, formerly serving as Associate Principal and Acting Principal Oboe. Prior to joining the PSO, Gorton was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, and Principal Oboe of the Rochester Chamber Orchestra. From 1971 to 1986 he was Principal Oboe of the Pittsburgh Opera and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. He has also served as Principal Oboe of the Colorado Philharmonic, the New Hampshire Music Festival, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, and Strings in the Mountains Festival, as well as oboist and English Hornist of the Bethlehem (PA) Bach Festival, Lake George (NY) Opera Festival, and the Sun Valley (ID) Summer Symphony.
As oboe soloist, Gorton gave the Pittsburgh premiere of Witold Lutoslawski’s Double Concerto for Oboe, Harp and Chamber Orchestra with harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen, conductor Zdenek Macal and the PSO in May of 1985. Gorton presented the Rochester premiere of L’Horloge de flore (The Flower Clock) by Jean Françaix with the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra under Walter Hendl. Other solo appearances with the PSO have included both the Mozart and Haydn Sinfonia concertante and the Hertel Concerto in E-flat for Oboe and Trumpet. In addition, Gorton has appeared as soloist with the Colorado Philharmonic, New Hampshire Music Festival, Johnstown Symphony, Carnegie Civic Symphony (now Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra) and the Main Line (Philadelphia) Symphony. His performance of the C.P.E. Bach Concerto in D minor with the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra was named one of the Top Ten Concerts of 2001 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
As a chamber musician and recitalist, Gorton was a founder of the New Pittsburgh Quintet, which played throughout the U. S., at the prestigious Osaka International Festival in Japan, and for the nationally televised PBS special commemorating opening of the Sarah Scaife Gallery in Pittsburgh. He was a member of the Mid-America Woodwind Quintet in residence at Emporia (KS) State University from 1969 to 1971. In 1984 Gorton performed as soloist in the Heinz Hall chamber series premiering Five Pieces for Solo Oboe by Antal Dorati. He has appeared in recital throughout the Pittsburgh area at the Frick Museum, Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham College, Carlow College, Shadyside Concert series, Pittsburgh Chamber Music Project, Rodef Shalom, Penn State University, and California State University. He has also been presented in recital in Taiwan and in Bösendorfer Hall in Vienna. Gorton has produced several CD’s and numerous other recordings. Pavanes, Pastorales, and Serenades for Oboe and Harp, a CD for Boston Records by James Gorton and Gretchen Van Hoesen, was released in 1996. The widely-acclaimed recording containing music never before recorded has demanded three pressings.
Gorton grew up in the Philadelphia area and studied privately with Charles Morris, Louis Rosenblatt and John de Lancie, all of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Gorton studied with Robert Sprenkle at the Eastman School of Music, where he was a Rochester National Scholar and earned the Bachelor of Music degree and Performer’s Certificate. He is a faculty member of Duquesne University and former faculty member of Carnegie Mellon University and Carlow University. His students hold posts in orchestras and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad.