Mary Beth Orr began her musical studies on both piano and French horn in Charleston, SC where she attended the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts. She continued her studies at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA where she majored on both instruments in performance. She has studied with such performers as Corbin Wagner, Jerry Folsom, David Wakefield, John Zirbel, Karl Hill, Adam Unsworth, and Karl Pituch, some of which were during her studies at the Aspen Music Festival and School.
She played briefly with the Charleston Symphony and in 2010 began frequently performing with the Detroit Symphony while holding core positions with the Breckenridge Music Festival, Lansing Symphony, and Midland Symphony. During the summer of 2010 she was on the esteemed faculty for the Interlochen Horn Institute with Gene Berger, Karl Pituch, and Kerry Turner of the American Horn Quartet. In 2012 she performed again at the Interlochen Horn Institute with Nicole Cash and Eli Epstein.
After winning 2nd prize in the professional division at the International Horn Competition of America in 2013, she started exploring artistic opportunities as a soloist placing 2nd in the Horn Division of the 2014 International Women’s Brass Conference Solo Competition. Mary Beth also holds faculty positions with both the Charleston Horn Institute in Charleston, SC and the Tucson Summer Brass Workshop as the Hornist for the resident quintet, Variance Brass. She also continues as core 2nd Horn for the Breckenridge Music Festival in Colorado. In the Summer of 2017 she made her premier at the Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, SC as a featured recital soloist with her mixed ensemble Femme Forte.
Currently, she is 3rd Horn for the Grand Rapids Symphony as well as a recent proud Spartan graduate with a MM in Horn Performance at Michigan State University as a Distinguished Fellow. Upon returning to the International Women’s Brass Conference this past May 2019, she was not only invited to perform with the esteemed Monarch Brass, but also won 1st prize in the professional horn division of the Susan Slaughter Solo Competition.
Her folk horn fusion show, “French Horn Folk Tales”, premiered to a sold out house at Cook Recital Hall in Lansing in November 2017 and has continued grow. This program is unique in that it connects two very unlikely mediums, as well as audiences. Mary Beth sings traditional Appalachian melodies from her childhood to introduce the classical works in the program. So much of classical literature is inspired by, and derived from traditional folk melodies and are far more connected and complimentary to each other than many audiences assume. Both of these genres communicate and elevate the human spirit and her hope is to connect with audiences from as many varied backgrounds as possible, and connect them to each other.