The Kendall Betts Memorial fund was established in 2016 to honor the memory of the amazing man who founded the Kendall Betts Horn Camp.
Our founder and one of America's most highly regarded hornists, Kendall Betts (1947 – 2016), enjoyed a distinguished career. Born in Philadelphia as the only child of Joseph Kendall Betts and Eva Wilder Betts, he began piano studies at age 6 and horn lessons at the age of 11. While clearly having an unusual talent and a superb work ethic, Mr. Betts was always grateful for having received a fine education in a city with a long musical tradition.
Mr. Betts founded KBHC in 1994. The first of its kind, his camp was to be a rigorous educational experience for motivated horn players of all levels and ages seeking to improve their skills. His approach was to focus on fundamentals, further knowledge of the instrument, and to allow participants access to a superior faculty and staff. He took a personal interest in each participant, their struggles and their progress. Now entering its 23rd season, many feel that this horn family gathering is not to be missed.
Mr. Betts was a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and earned his Bachelor of Music Degree in 1969 at the Curtis Institute of Music. While at the Curtis Institute, he also pursued academic studies at the University of Pennsylvania and participated in the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. He counted amongst his instructors: John Barrows, Ward O. Fearn, Don Haddad, Wendell Hoss, and Mason Jones.
His professional career began in Philadelphia at the age of 17 while a student. Mr. Betts performed as principal horn with most of the major musical organizations of the area including: the Lyric and Grand Opera Companies, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia; the Wilmington (now Delaware) Symphony; and, the Reading Symphony. Additionally, he performed some 250 demonstration concerts in the public schools for Young Audiences, Inc. and served as an extra and substitute horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Upon graduation from Curtis, he was engaged as associate principal horn of the Pittsburgh Symphony. One year later, Mr. Betts was appointed by Eugene Ormandy to the horn section of the Philadelphia Orchestra, becoming the youngest musician to join that organization since his teacher, Mason Jones, had joined in 1938.
After a five-year tenure with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Betts resigned to pursue a free-lance career and immediately became one of the most sought-after musicians in the country. He performed as principal horn with many organizations, including American Ballet Theatre and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and served as substitute associate principal horn of the New York Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Symphony, as well as an extra with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony. He was also very active in the chamber music and commercial fields, participating at major music festivals, concert series, and both New York and Los Angeles film, television and recording studios. He was a guest artist with the Guarneri String Quartet and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and performed throughout the world as a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He also was a founder of the North Country Chamber Players of Sugar Hill, NH.
Mr. Betts served as principal horn of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 2004 where he was also a frequent soloist performing works of Mozart, Haydn, Richard Strauss, Schumann, Telemann, Britten and others. As well, he made numerous solo appearances with many regional, college and university orchestras and wind ensembles. Mr. Betts was a guest artist on National Public Radio's Saint Paul Sunday Morning on several occasions and performed as substitute principal horn of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, principal natural horn with the Lyra Concert and as principal horn of the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego.
After leaving Minnesota, Mr. Betts resided in Sugar Hill, NH. His efforts were then focused on the North Country Chamber Players, teaching, and the important job of maintaining Kendall Betts Horn Camp (KBHC) as the finest horn education program in the world. In 2006, he added horn design and manufacturing to his repertoire following his acquisition of Lawson Brass Instruments from Walter A. Lawson, his close friend and mentor.
As a committed educator throughout his career, Mr. Betts was a resident artist and horn instructor at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Other past educational affiliations included: adjunct positions at Duquesne University, Temple University, Pennsylvania College of the Performing Arts, The New School of Music, Swarthmore College, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, and the University of Minnesota. He was a much sought-after clinician by many universities and appeared as a recitalist at workshops for the International Horn Society, on whose Advisory Council he served from 1994 -1999.
Former students of Mr. Betts’s studio and from KBHC can be found performing in major orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the world as well as teaching at leading educational institutions.
Mr. Betts enjoyed spending time with his daughter, Lucy. He was a gourmet chef and famous for his NC pulled pork barbeque, still served at KBHC. He enjoyed automobiles. He had a keen sense of humor maintained even during the final days of his illness. His spontaneity and infectious laugh are missed.
Founder, Kendall Betts Horn Camp