Mahler 9

“…the Grant Park Orchestra members played gloriously under Kalmar’s attentive direction, from the shrieking piccolo to the basses’ imposing foundation. Contributing standout solo work were … and, especially, principal horn Jonathan Boen who was terrific (along with his section colleagues) in his myriad solos—clarion, full-bodied, nostalgic and eloquent as required.”



Kalmar, Grant Park Orchestra scale the tragic heights of Mahler’s Ninth 

Chicago Classical Review, 2015

For an alfresco concert subject to divers urban distractions, Kalmar lived dangerously in the long final section, drawing out the music with refined, strikingly hushed dynamics. The gamble paid off with an elegant and beautifully turned closing dialogue between Black’s violin and principal horn Jonathan Boen, the performance ending in a glowing coda of solace and contentment.

Lawrence A. Johnson

Chicago Tribune, 2014

Fully inside the opera’s conversational ebb and flow, Davis elicited exceptionally sensitive, refined playing from the Lyric Orchestra, beginning with the sublime sextet that opens the opera and continuing through the touching final pages. Principal horn Jonathan Boen did a fine job of evoking Strauss’ musical moonlight.

John von Rhein

Chicago Classical Review, 2014

Even by their standard, the playing of the Lyric Opera Orchestra was beyond reproach, with a refined quicksilver quality that suits this restless music. Jonathan Boen lofted a gorgeous horn solo to open the final scene…

Lawrence A. Johnson

Chicago Sun Times, 2014

The score is filled with some of the composer’s most exquisite music and Andrew Davis, always a superb Strauss conductor, and the Lyric Orchestra may have outdone themselves at the Monday opening. From the opening string sextet that drew a hush from the 3,600-seat house through the comic and passionate themes of the narrative to the sounds of principal Jonathan Boen’s horn–the instrument closest to Strauss’ heart–that set off the poignant final minutes of the piece.

Andrew Patner, 2012

The [Dallas Symphony Orchestra] played beautifully. Although opera companies have greatly improved their orchestral situation, the Dallas Opera included, hearing this score in the hands of the Dallas Symphony was a highlight. Special kudos have to go to the horn section under the leadership of guest principal Jonathan Boen, principal horn of Lyric Opera of Chicago and special gold star must go to the horn trio that accompanied Leonora’s big aria Abscheulicher! It has rarely, if ever, been better played.

Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

La Scena Musicale, 2012

Changes in DSO Horn Section?
The latest changes in the [Dallas Symphony Orchestra] under van Zweden were in the afore-mentioned horn section. Earlier this season it was announced that longtime principal horn Gregory Hustis would be stepping down. The DSO is currently looking for a replacement and for the Fidelio performances invited Jonathan Boen, principal horn in the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, to sit in as a guest, and presumably as a possible successor to Hustis.

Whatever the explanation, the horn section has never sounded better. The playing of each of the five was virtually flawless. There were no cracked notes or kicksing, as they call it in Vienna. This was some of the most glorious horn ensemble playing I have ever heard. There was power but there was also one perfectly-tuned chord after another, and the horn sound was golden and pure.

I have no idea whether Jonathan Boen is the man to lead the DSO horn section in the future, but under his leadership, and with van Zweden’s encouragement, each member of the section responded in this performance with thorough preparation and superb execution. For the record, the players were Jonathan Boen, Haley Hoops, David Cooper, Paul Capehart and Evan Mino.

Paul Robinson

Chicago Classical Review, 2011

Dohnanyi’s Sextet was a revelation, full of sumptuously shaded dark moods, yet ending with an atmosphere of giddy high spirits. The music was densely textured for the most part, and the performance was extremely cohesive, driven by a noble, sweeping lyricism. But when the texture became more transparent, we were aware of the sheer beauty of the musicians’ individual sound: Boen’s golden, commanding horn; Alan Chow’s sparkling piano, Barbara Haffner’s soulful cello, Bloom’s smoky clarinet, the mercurial urgency of violinist Yuan Qing-Yu and violist Roger Chase.

Wynne Delacoma

Chicago Classical Review, 2011

The second movement — Shostakovich’s sardonic musical portrait of Stalin — has all due malign energy and motoric momentum. The Allegretto is one of the composer’s ambivalent slow movements, a lightly ironic yet uneasy waltz with the composer’s musical signature to the fore, aided by superbly evocative horn solos by Jonathan Boen.

Lawrence A. Johnson

Chicago Classical Review, 2011

Based on several songs of his childhood (Margarita is a Tear and Tiguitiguitos), the piece is framed by principal Jonathan Boen’s wistful horn solos and negotiates fluidly between tropic tranquility and militaristic nationalism.

Bryant Manning

Chicago Sun-Times, 2009

Boen, Rachleff, and Symphony II (Chicago Philharmonic) were fleet and agile, dashing through Bach’s upbeat tangles with sophisticated flair. Boen’s tone was clear and mellow, capable of blending elegantly into the orchestral texture as well as striking out in confident solo voice.

Wynne Delacoma

Chicago Tribune, 2009

The solo horn gets a bravura workout, dancing around the orchestra’s darting figuration and pounding, percussion-driven rhythms. The virtuosic Boen and Symphony II made the concerto a real audience-grabber…

John Von Rhein

Chicago Classical Review, 2009

The orchestra’s horn section, led by principal Jonathan Boen, was resplendent in Franck’s symphonic poem. In the opening bars, their resonant call to the hunt was arresting. Dogs being walked on Michigan Avenue may have pricked up their ears and strained to join the arrogant Count who invited the Lord’s wrath by riding off to the hunt on a Sunday.

Wynne Delacoma