Elisabeth Axtell is a nationally recognized natural horn specialist and second horn of Handel & Haydn Society, the oldest continually operating performing arts organization in the United States.


Upon being introduced to the natural horn, she was charmed by its rustic nature and extensive palette of tone colors – uniquely expressive qualities she is delighted to share with audiences across the country.

 Photo by Kimberly Jade Forbes Photography

Elisabeth’s engagements on the East Coast include Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Boston Early Music Festival, Arcadia Players, Circa Harmonie, Musicians of the Old Post Road, Newton Baroque, the Berry Collective, Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, the Connecticut Early Music Festival, Maine’s Blue Hill Bach Festival, New York City’s Trinity Baroque Orchestra, and Washington DC’s Opera Lafayette. On the West Coast, she takes the stage with San Francisco’s American Bach Soloists, San Diego’s Opera Neo, Los Angeles’s Musica Angelica, and Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks. She performs in the southern United States with Houston’s Mercury Orchestra, La Speranza, and Ars Lyrica, Austin’s Arts at Redeemer, and the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, and in the Mountain West with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado and the Montana Early Music Festival.


Elisabeth also enjoys a regular concert schedule on the modern valved horn and has performed with Fenway Brass Quintet, the Holliston Quartet, A Far Cry, Plymouth Philharmonic, the Bach Beethoven and Brahms Society, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Marsh Chapel Collegium, and the Metropolitan Wind Symphony as principal horn. She has been recorded on the CORO and Collegium labels.


Off stage, she is an entrepreneur of unconventional ensembles; recent projects include co-founding Grand Harmonie, a wind-led period instrument orchestra, Conica, a path-breaking all-female natural horn quartet, and Emergere, a conductorless wind band. She has proudly supported community music organizations through past service as a president of New England Brass Band and as a board member of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony.


A Pacific Northwest native, Elisabeth holds degrees in English and music from Minnesota’s Gustavus Adolphus College and a masters degree in music performance from Boston University. Her principal teachers include Kathleen Vaught-Farner, Eric Ruske, and Todd Williams.