At the age of 7, Rodger Burnett got hooked on classical music when his father brought home a recording of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony from the local Reno, Nevada grocery store. His father, an amateur violinist, always had classical and big band music on the home stereo.
After four years of piano lessons, Rodger leapt at the chance to play a brass instrument in the seventh grade. His hopes of playing trombone were dashed when Rodger’s clever Junior High band director (who needed French horns in the band) convinced him that his arms were too short. After one year of study, he was asked to join the University of Nevada Orchestra, where his father also played. Rodger soloed for the first time with the Reno Philharmonic while in the eighth grade, and began working in the house orchestras of the Sahara Tahoe and Harrahs Reno Casinos throughout his high school years.
During the years of his undergraduate studies at Illinois State University, he also played principal horn in the Peoria Symphony, studied privately in Chicago, and attended the Aspen, Claremont, and New College Music Festivals. The opportunity to be a graduate student of Christopher Leuba at the University of Washington brought Rodger to Seattle in 1976. He has also studied with Julie Landsman and David Krehbiel. In 1980 and 1981, he played in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. After his return to Seattle, Rodger has been playing regularly with the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera, where he is possibly the only horn player in the world to have performed all four of the Wagner tuba parts in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Rodger was principal horn of the Northwest Chamber Orchestra. He is principal horn and personnel manager of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, and has played regularly with the Fifth Avenue and Paramount Theater Orchestras since 1982. He has played on the soundtracks for more than twenty motion pictures.
Rodger has appeared as soloist with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra and the Auburn Symphony. He was a finalist in the Heldenleben International Horn Competition. As a chamber musician, he has performed with the Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival, the Methow Music Festival, the Orcas Chamber Music Festival, the Belle Arte Concerts, the Jacobsen Series at University of Puget Sound, and Chamber Music Society of Seattle.
Currently he is on faculty at University of Puget Sound and Seattle Pacific University, and maintains an active teaching studio in Seattle. As a member of the Northwoods Quintet, Rodger has performed in educational programs in more than 300 schools across the state of Washington.
An avid cyclist, he rode cross-country from Los Angeles to Orlando in support of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. He is an intrepid traveler, sea kayaker and nature photographer.