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Robert Walters during a May performance as principal English horn with the Cleveland Orchestra. He performs at Hidden Valley with bassoonist Judith LeClair. Both are regular instructors for the annual festival.

Nearly every English horn player started on oboe and Robert Walters was no exception. He credits his mother with facilitating the transition. “I was playing the oboe in mostly operatic settings,” Walters says. “One day, my mom turns to me and says, ‘Look – life is short and opera is so long, and besides, you’re playing underground in the orchestra pit. You’ll be underground soon enough!’”

The Hidden Valley Masters Festival stands at the halfway point, with Walters – Cleveland Orchestra principal English horn and an Oberlin College professor – along with bassoonist Judith LeClair as featured instructors and performers.

Both master class instructors have return each summer to teach and play in an environment many call unique.

“I’ve been giving master classes all over the world for many decades,” Walters says, “and there is nothing like Hidden Valley anywhere.

“It creates the opportunity for one teacher and the same students to spend an entire week together instead of doing one intense session,” Walters says. “It’s a potent learning environment.”

In 1981 at age 23, LeClair became the first woman, as well as the youngest-ever principal player chosen to serve in the New York Philharmonic, a post she retains to this day.

LeClair first came to teach at Hidden Valley over 35 years ago, and hasn’t missed a year since. “She is one of the greatest artists we’ve had,” General Director Peter Meckel says. “She realizes the Masters is all about passing the baton to the next generation.”

After teaching, LeClair and Walters perform a joint recital.

JUDITH LeCLAIR, bassoon and ROBERT WALTERS, English horn 7:30pm Monday, June 25. Hidden Valley Theatre, 104 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. $25. 659-3115, hiddenvalleymusic.org

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