Donald Baker has held the position of Principal Oboe of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 1973. Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, he began playing the oboe in the seventh grade and two years later became a student of John Holmes, oboist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During his undergraduate years at Oberlin College, Baker studied with Devere Moore, who later served as oboist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In Nice, France, he studied with the legendary former Principal Oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Marcel Tabuteau. In 1964, at age 21, Baker was named Principal Oboe of the Dallas Symphony, where he performed until assuming his DSO post.
With the DSO, Baker has performed as a soloist more than thirty times, under maestros Gary Bertini, Aldo Ceccato, Antal Dorati, Günther Herbig, Sir Neville Marriner, Nicholas McGegan, and Neeme Järvi, in works by Bach, Campanelli, Haydn, Michigan composer Lawrence Singer, Mozart, and Vaughan Williams, to name a few. His solo work can also be heard on the DSO’s many recordings. Baker is also twice the recipient of a Motor City Music Award for Outstanding Classical Instrumentalist and Best Chamber Ensemble, as voted by readers of the Metro Times.
Between symphony seasons, Baker has played and taught at the Aspen Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, the Grand Tetons Music Festival and the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan. Active in the Detroit area as a soloist and chamber musician, Baker appears with the Detroit Chamber Winds and is frequently asked to perform as a studio musician on a wide range of recordings.