Kendall Betts Summer Festival Logo

Kendall Betts


One of America's most highly regarded hornists, Kendall Betts has enjoyed a distinguished and varied career. Born in Philadelphia in 1947, he began piano studies at age 6 and horn lessons at 11. Mr. Betts is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and earned his Bachelor of Music Degree in 1969 at the Curtis Institute of Music. He also pursued academic studies at the University of Pennsylvania and participated in the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont.

Beginning his professional career at age 17 while a student in Philadelphia, Mr. Betts performed as principal horn with most all 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. He also performed some 250 demonstration concerts in the 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, he 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, 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 helped to found the North Country Chamber Players of Sugar Hill, NH, with whom he performed until 2014.

Mr. Betts served as principal horn of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 2004.  He was a frequent soloist with that organization having performed works of Mozart, Haydn, Richard Strauss, Schumann, Telemann, Britten, Thommessen, and Koeper.  Mr. Betts has made numerous solo appearances with many regional, college and university orchestras and wind ensembles.  He has been a guest artist on National Public Radio's Saint Paul Sunday Morning on several occasions and he also performed as substitute principal horn of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, principal natural horn with the Lyra Concert and he has served as principal horn of the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego.

Since leaving Minnesota, Kendall has focused his efforts on the North Country Chamber Players, teaching at the University of New Hampshire, the important job of making KBHC the best horn education program in the world and since 2006, horn design and manufacturing. 

In regard to KBHC, it is extremely gratifying to him to see the improvement and success of the participants over the 21 years of camp and to know that they have received the very best instruction possible thus helping to enable them to achieve their personal goals as musicians.  A committed educator throughout his career, Mr. Betts is currently a resident artist and the horn instructor at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.  His past affiliations have 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. His former students can be found performing in major orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the world as well as teaching at leading educational institutions. He is a much sought-after clinician by many universities and has appeared as a recitalist at many workshops for the International Horn Society, on whose Advisory Council he served from 1993-1999.

In 2006, Kendall purchased America's leading custom horn manufacturer, re-builder and repairer: Lawson Brass Instruments.  Training with the Lawson's until the Summer of 2007, he then moved the shop to Bethlehem, NH and most recently to new facilities in Littleton, NH.   Kendall continues with all Lawson products including custom horns, mouthpieces, lead-pipes, bells and valve re-building.  He has plans to introduce new models and custom parts as soon as possible.  KBHC participants can expect the opportunity for equipment consultation and trial if desired and shop tours will most certainly be arranged as well.  For more information, please go to

Kendall spends his limited free time with his daughter, Lucy (age 13), and avoiding speeding tickets on I-93. He is a gourmet chef and is famous for his NC pulled pork barbeque served at KBHC. He is a Reg. Int. Pyrotechnician and orchestrates the fireworks displays held after the final concert at each week of KBHC.

Mr. Betts studied horn with John Barrows, Ward O. Fearn, Don Haddad, Wendell Hoss, and Mason Jones.  Also,  Prof. I.M. Gestopftmitscheist claims to have taught him "everything he knows" but this is probably, maybe, cause for debate since it is not clear whether the Prof. meant "everything he (The Prof.) knows," or "everything he (KB) knows."


Kendall Betts

Founder, KBHC

Owner, Lawson Horns

University of New Hampshire, Minnesota Orchestra (ret.), North Country Chamber Players (ret.)