Get to Know the DSSO: James Pospisil, Principal Horn


Name: James Pospisil

Member of DSSO since: 1996

DSSO Position: Principal Horn

Education: Master’s in Music Performance, Indiana University

What made you decide to pursue a career in music? 
My small rural high school in Nebraska did not have an orchestra. I was playing fourth horn in the All State orchestra my junior year, and although I heard recordings, the moment I heard and felt the downbeat of the final movement of Sibelius’ Second Symphony, I knew that this was my life. Every time we play it I cry at that moment.

What has been the highlight of your career thus far? 
Playing Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with my friends and colleagues in the DSSO a year ago. It was one of those magical nights. The section was killing it!(that’s a good thing) When Mahler comes up, you have no choice but to go for it, treacherous but so rewarding.

 What made you choose to play horn? 
In sixth grade, the music teachers suggested if you have piano experience and a good ear, try viola or horn. Playing horn was a disaster in those early days. Thankfully, I was given space to make a mess. My band director was amazingly patient and inspiring. Thank you Mr. Richards!

What’s the most challenging thing about playing horn?
Accuracy can be challenging, but the flip side is the gift of sound, color, and character. Worth the risk!(most of the time)

Do you have a favorite piece of orchestral repertoire to play and/or listen to? 
The list is huge. Sibelius, Mahler, Brahms, Beethoven, Arvo Part. What hits me deepest in Shostakovitch. My families’ immigrant story parallels many of the themes he wrote about. After performing a Shostakovitch symphony, I am depressed for about a week. Even though there is so much sadness and pain in the music, we must bear witness as musicians.

When you’re not performing, what do you do for fun? 
I enjoy trail ultramarathons. Running all day in the woods is amazing. There always is a moment of suffering that gives illumination to life. Usually a sense of gratitude.

What’s one thing you hope people take away from a DSSO concert? 
Hopefully a connection with the music, the musicians, and the energy of something special that can only be in the moment. The perfect storm of brilliant compositions, highly trained musicians, fantastic conductor(don’t tell Dirk), and an appreciative audience brings an air of a moment that cannot be recreated. It is an experience that we owe it to each other to feel and connect.

Do you have any advice for those looking to pursue a career in music? 
Practice consistently. Be willing to take a leap of faith that things will work out. Open your heart to what is possible. Give yourself expressively to the moment. Enjoy the ecstasy of the sounds.