SHELAGH ABATE is an internationally renowned horn player and educator with a passion for pushing boundaries and making music that transcends genres. Shelagh has firmly established herself as a leading figure in the demanding New York freelance world and beyond with versatile artistry in the classical, contemporary, commercial, and jazz idioms. A dynamic educator, her style is enthusiastic and authentic. She maintains an insatiable curiosity, knowing that those who teach are in the best position to learn.
Shelagh has opened more than one dozen Broadway productions, including Mary Poppins, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, South Pacific, Honeymoon in Vegas, Evita, Fiddler on the Roof, Anastasia, Disney’s Frozen, and The Music Man with Hugh Jackman at the Wintergarden Theater, to name a few. Since arriving in New York in 2005, she has performed regularly with The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, The Mostly Mozart Festival, The American Ballet Theater, The American Symphony Orchestra, and The Opera Orchestra of New York. She is third horn with the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra and has been principal horn of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra under the artistic direction of Jaime Laredo since 1999. During the course of her career, Shelagh has been conducted by some of the great musicians of our time; Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle, Andre Previn, James Conlon, Gunther Schuller, James DePriest, Robert Spano, Carl St. Clair, John Williams, Marin Alsop, Jaime Laredo, Keith Lockhart, and Placido Domingo, among others.
Shelagh has established a fluency in the commercial realm as well as the classical, having performed as part of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Michel Legrand, the ensembles of Earl McDonald, Gary Morgan, Jamie Baum, John Allmark, The Gil Evans Project with Ryan Truesdell, John Vanore and Greg Hopkins. Shelagh has performed live in concert, recorded with, as well as appeared on televised events with Sting, The Who, Tony Bennett, Rufus Wainwright, Lady Gaga, Barry Manilow, Joni Mitchell, Trey Anastasio, Club d’Elf, Josh Groban, Brian Wilson, and Linda Ronstadt. She has been part of the Tony Awards Studio Orchestra that performs live at Radio City Music Hall, as well as on innumerable television commercials, video game soundtracks, and motion picture soundtracks.
Chamber music has been at the very core of Shelagh’s success as a musician. A winner of the Coleman Competition (2000), and a founding member of the award-winning Triton Brass (Fischoff, Lyon & Concert Artists Guild, 2005), Shelagh has collaborated with her world-class and longtime colleagues in order to achieve what is only artistically possible through such an intimate medium. Together they have shared their gifts with thousands of others through live performances, recordings, and education.
Shelagh is a committed educator who prides herself on being authentic, sharing her love for music with others, and finding joy in her dedication to helping others express their voice through their instrument. She joined the faculty of the Berklee College of Music as Assistant Professor of Horn in 2022, after lecturing and serving as adjunct in various capacities at numerous institutions. Shelagh has also been a proud faculty member of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute in Lenox, MA since 2003. Additionally, she has led masterclasses, clinics, and seminars at colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Early musical influences include extensive study with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Richard Sebring, Toronto Symphony’s principal horn Neil Deland, and renowned pedagogue and performer Laura Klock. She has been a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and with The National Repertory Orchestra. Shelagh holds degrees from Boston College and The University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she was a recipient of the Howard W. Lebow Scholarship. She also holds an Artist Diploma from The New England Conservatory of Music, where she was a Walkenier Scholar. Shelagh is proud to be a Stephens Horns artist, playing one of the very first horns handcrafted by Stephen Shires.
Life in the Pit is devoted to the lives and experiences of instrumental musicians who play for musical theater. Listeners can hear the stories of what goes on in "the pit" and aspiring musicians can learn what it takes to become a pit musician. Hear Shelagh in Episode 42.