Robert Sheena has been the Principal English Horn player for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra since 1994. In his over twenty years of performing with the BSO and BPO he has garnered numerous accolades in both the press and audiences alike for his particularly vocal style of playing. In 2016, he was given a great honor when the BSO commissioned a new piece of music expressly for him: George Tsontakis’s lyrical Sonnets: tone poems for English horn and Orchestra”, a work he premiered with the BSO that February. Other highlights of his BSO/BPO career include being a featured soloist in André Previn’s Reflections, Aaron Copland’s Quiet City, Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela and Michael Daugherty’s Spaghetti Western. Gabriel Gould’s Watercolors and William Pfaff’s During Wind and Rain were both commissioned for him to perform, by David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony and by Adam Grossman and the Master Singers of Lexington, respectively. In 1998 Mr. Sheena performed the world premiere of Daniel Pinkham’s Odes for English horn and Organ at the American Guild of Organists convention. More recently, Marti Epstein wrote two works specifically for Mr. Sheena: Quartet for English horn and String trio and Bloom for English horn and Wind Ensemble, the latter of which he premiered with the Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble and later performed with the Boston University Wind Ensemble.
Mr. Sheena has performed many times in Japan, not only with the BSO but also with the Super World Orchestra, Affinis Music Festival, Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra and chamber music with BSO oboe section colleague Keisuke Wakao. Robert Sheena teaches both the oboe and the English horn at Boston University’s School of Music, and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. An alumnus of the Tanglewood Music Center, he coaches TMC Fellows in chamber music ensembles and gives English horn Master Classes at Tanglewood. With BSO principal oboist John Ferrillo, he co-directs a two-week summer workshop for young oboists at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Prior to joining the BSO, Mr. Sheena performed frequently as an extra with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. From 1987 to 1991 he was Assistant Principal Oboe and Principal English horn with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and with the San Antonio Symphony from 1991 to 1994. He received his Bachelor of music degree from The University of California at Berkeley and Master of Music degree from Northwestern University School of Music, and studied with master oboists Ray Still, Grover Schiltz, William Banovetz, John Mack, and Marc Lifschey.