Eli Epstein enjoys a multi-faceted career as performer, educator, conductor and author. Epstein was second horn of the Cleveland Orchestra (1987-2005), and horn professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music (1989-2005). He has appeared several times as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra.
Epstein left Cleveland in 2005, and moved to Boston to devote more time and energy toward educational and creative endeavors. He is currently on faculty of New England Conservatory and Professor of Horn at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. At NEC, Epstein is on the college faculty, NEC at Walnut Hill, and Brass Chair of the Preparatory School. Epstein's students hold positions as chamber musicians and teachers, and have won posts in more than 30 major orchestras in North America.
An active performer, Epstein has appeared on chamber programs at Jordan Hall, Severance Hall, Tanglewood, Philadelphia's Academy of Music, Kennedy Center, Music Academy of the West, where he was on faculty (2005-2013), and the Aspen Music Festival, where he served as principal horn of the Aspen Chamber Symphony (2000-2012). Epstein has collaborated with the Borromeo and Brentano String Quartets, and has been guest principal horn for the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Saint Louis Symphony. Epstein performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra from time to time and has played on the BSO Community Chamber Concerts series.
Director of the NEC Youth Brass Ensemble since 2009, Epstein has conducted college ensembles at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Cleveland Institute of Music, Longy School of Music, Music Academy of the West, NEC, and El Sistema in Venezuela. Advocating the idea that music can be a meaningful and uplifting force in society, in 2009 Epstein won Grand Prize in the Entrepreneur the Arts Contest for his Inside Out Concerts, and appeared on Heartbeat of America with William Shatner. Drawing on years of experience as a performer, educator and entrepreneur, in 2013 Epstein joined the NEC Entrepreneurial Musicianship faculty to teach their survey course The Entrepreneurial Musician.
Epstein’s book, Horn Playing from the Inside Out (third edition published in 2016, and eBook published on Apple Books in 2021) includes astonishing images from the MRI Lab at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen Germany. This book was celebrated in the International Horn Society’s journal as “an overwhelmingly stimulating and productive treatise…that will yield positive influence on legions of horn players…” It was also commended in Horn Matters: "Without a doubt the most physiologically correct book ever published on horn playing.
Epstein presents a pedagogy that is truly informed by science, with new insights that should not be ignored." Orchestral Excerpts for Low Horn, Epstein's album released in 2014, was acclaimed in HornWorld as "a perfect sequel to (Krebiehl's) original horn excerpts CD...you would be hard pressed to find more nuanced, musically substantial performances anywhere."
Epstein earned his Bachelor of Music Degree magna cum laude from the Eastman School of Music.
Photo by David Green.