Alex Klein has joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as principal oboe, effective Aug. 4. The appointment, made by Music Director Riccardo Muti, marks a homecoming for Klein, who previously held the post from 1995 to 2004. He resigned after receiving a diagnosis of focal dystonia, a neurological condition, which in his case, affects two fingers of his left hand. His first concert as CSO principal oboe will be Aug. 5 at the Ravinia Festival.
Over time, Klein learned to manage the condition in part by altering the keys of his oboe. This adjustment allows Klein’s fingers to reach the keys more easily. Several years ago, he returned to orchestral performance, and in June, he won the audition for principal oboe. Before his re-appointment, Klein performed with the CSO as guest principal oboe in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and Verdi’s Falstaff under Muti in April 2016 in subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall and in Mahler’s Second Symphony under James Levine in July at Ravinia.
Klein began his professional career as an oboist at age 11 in his native Brazil when he was invited to join Camerata Antiqua, one of the nation’s leading chamber ensembles. A former first prize winner of the Geneva International Competition and the New York International Oboe Competition, Klein has appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Czech National Symphony, and orchestras in China and Latin America, as well as in performances at the Sunflower Music Festival in Topeka, Kan. In 1995, he was first appointed as CSO principal oboe by Daniel Barenboim. An acclaimed recording artist, Klein won a Grammy Award in 2002 for best instrumental soloist with orchestra for a recording of Richard Strauss’ Oboe Concerto with Barenboim and the CSO.
After leaving the CSO in 2004, Klein moved into conducting and music administration, with the goal of supporting musical artistry in Brazil and Latin America. He is the founder and artistic director of the Santa Catarina Music Festival, which has become Latin America’s largest music festival under his direction. Klein also is the founder and general director of the Program of Social Inclusion through Music and the Arts, which has established youth and children’s orchestras in at-risk public school systems in Brazil. An accomplished educator, Klein has given master classes at the Juilliard School of Music, National Conservatories of Paris and Lyon (France), and Beijing Central Conservatory (China).