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Leelanee Sterrett



Leelanee Sterrett joined the New York Philharmonic in 2013. She was previously a fellow of Ensemble Connect, Carnegie Hall’s collective of young professionals and music advocates. In recent seasons, Sterrett has made solo appearances at Carnegie Hall and several International Horn Symposia, and has presented recitals and masterclasses around the country. She has performed as guest principal horn with the London Symphony Orchestra, appears frequently at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and was a member of the 2022 National Brass Ensemble. An advocate for works by women composers, she can be heard on the world-premiere recording of Fernande Breihl-Decruck’s Poëme Héroïque for trumpet, horn, and orchestra.

Sterrett grew up in a musically enthusiastic and supportive family in northern Michigan and attended Interlochen Arts Academy. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a master’s degree from the Yale School of Music. Her primary teachers include William Purvis, Douglas Hill, and Julie Schleif. Sterrett has spent summers at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Pacific and Sarasota music festivals, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. She is a past prizewinner in the International Horn Competition of America and the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program. She now serves on the horn faculties of New York University and Rutgers University. Among her proudest accomplishments is completing the New York City Marathon twice.

“My college teacher taught me the importance of going after new experiences even if you don’t feel 100 percent ready — you learn by trying, not by waiting around for opportunity.”

Interview with Leelanee Sterrett

THE FACTS: Born in Petoskey, Michigan. Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin– Madison; master’s degree from the Yale School of Music. Prior to the Philharmonic: New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble ACJW at Carnegie Hall, and regular substitute with the New York Philharmonic. At the Philharmonic: Joined June 2013.

WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY? Sitting on the lawn outside City Hall watching my mom play flute in her community band. And listening to a classical call-in public radio program — my favorite Saturday morning activity, and how I learned about classical music.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST PIECE OF MUSIC YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH? Barber’s Violin Concerto. I listened to it over and over as I did math homework.

WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCE? I wouldn’t have thought I could go into music if it hadn’t been for my high school horn teacher, Julie Schleif. She taught me the importance of a strong work ethic.

MOST INSPIRING COMPOSERS? Stravinsky, Ravel, and Richard Strauss. Their colors and harmonies are unlike anyone else’s, and they all wrote beautifully for horn.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE PHILHARMONIC: Bruckner Eight, my favorite symphony, led by Alan Gilbert in 2014. It calls for nine horns on stage, and it was extra fun to have a big section! My Philharmonic colleagues are amazing, and I’m lucky to experience their artistry and wisdom day after day. (I chronicle memorable Philharmonic moments as they happen on twitter.com/leelaneenyc and facebook.com/leelaneenyc!)

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? Prepare for the New York City Marathon along with other Philharmonic musicians, play with my puppy, and go to concerts and the ballet

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN? My college teacher taught me the importance of going after new experiences even if you don’t feel 100 percent ready — you learn by trying, not by waiting around for opportunity.

As of October 2017

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

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