Principal Flute, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Lorna McGhee

Last updated: April 18, 2024

Lorna McGhee was appointed principal flute of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2012.  Known for her “exceptionally rich and vibrant tone” (Washington Post) Lorna has performed as guest principal with many leading orchestras including Chicago Symphony and London Known for her “exceptionally rich and vibrant tone,” (Washington Post) Lorna has performed as guest principal with Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe, among others. Before emigrating to North America, Lorna’s was as co-principal flute of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, England. 

As a concerto soloist, she has appeared with orchestras in Japan, Taiwan, Canada, the UK, and USA, with such groups as the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra. As winner of the Shell/LSO Scholarship, she performed the Ibert Concerto with London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Center in London, and subsequently in a gala concert in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. Other noteworthy career highlights include performances of Penderecki's flute concerto under the baton of the composer, Bach’s B Minor Suite with both Yannick Nézet-Seguin and Nicholas McGegan, Saariaho’s concerto ‘Aile du Songe’ with Osmo Vanska, and Mozart’s G major concerto with Manfred Honeck. During the 2024/25 season, she looks forward to performing Rautavaara’s Flute Concerto ‘Dances with the Winds’ with conductor Donald Runnicles and the PSO.

Lorna’s love of chamber music has led to performances in Europe, North America, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, and Australia, in venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Edinburgh International Festival, the Louvre, the Schubertsaal of Vienna's Konzerthaus, and the Library of Congress. She has participated in major international chamber festivals including the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Ottawa Chamberfest, Cleveland Chamberfest, and Seattle Chamber Music Society. As a member of Trio Verlaine, with husband, violist David Harding, and harpist Heidi Krutzen, she has recorded ‘Fin de Siècle, the music of Debussy and Ravel’ plus ‘Six Departures’ featuring new commissions by Jeffery Cotton and R. Murray Schafer. Along with duo partner Heidi Krutzen, she has commissioned several new works for flute and harp. Her Naxos recording of Bax’ Chamber Music with the group ‘mobius’ was selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine. Lorna has two recital discs, ‘The Hour of Dreaming’ with pianist Piers Lane and ‘Songs without Words’ with pianist Naoko Ishibashi. Following in the footsteps of her mentor, William Bennett, who sought to expand the expressive range of the flute, these recital recordings include several of Lorna’s own transcriptions.

Dedicated to nurturing the upcoming generation of musicians, Lorna has taught flute performance at the University of Michigan, the University of British Columbia, and Carnegie Mellon University, and has given masterclasses for educational institutions and flute festivals around the world, including the Julliard School, the Royal Academy of Music, New World Symphony, and the online platform, Tonebase. She is a regular guest teacher at summer schools including the Galway International Flute Festival, Orford Music Academy, and National Youth Orchestra of Canada. 

Lorna grew up in Largs, Scotland. She studied with David Nicholson at the Junior Department of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and later with Michie and William Bennett at the Royal Academy of Music in London.  She is an honorary “Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music” and an Altus Artist for Altus Flutes. In addition to her love of music, Lorna is a life-long student of English Literature and the Alexander Technique.

“Her range of colors was astonishing, not only golden and silvery, but ranging from cool to edgy to filled with human warmth.” (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)

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