Dr. Darlene Franz enjoys an active freelance career, appearing as a soloist, chamber music collaborator, and orchestral musician throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. She is a sought-after performer on both modern and historical oboes, and has played with Seattle Baroque, Seattle Pro Musica, the Northwest Sinfonietta, Pacific Baroque Orchestra (Vancouver, B. C.), California Bach Society, and the Seattle Bach Choir among many other groups. Recent performances include appearances as English hornist for the Los Angeles world premiere of Garrett Fisher's opera The Three Marys, Baroque oboist in Lidarti's Esther with the San-Francisco-based Albany Consort, and soloist with Seattle University choirs.
A respected educator, Dr. Franz maintains a large private teaching studio, and is a frequent adjudicator and coach, most recently for Seattle Youth Symphony's Endangered Instruments Program, and for Vivace Chamber Players. Her students have placed first in the oboe/English horn category of the WMEA State Solo & Ensemble Festival for four of the past six years. As a member of the Philharmonic Wind Quintet from 1998–2015, she is pleased to have introduced the sound of the oboe to over 200,000 elementary school students throughout Western Washington.
Dr. Franz grew up in northern California where she completed her undergraduate dual degree in music and chemistry at the University of California, Davis, studying oboe with Deborah Shidler and Pam Smith, and early music performance practices with Stephen Schultz and Paul Hillier. During the course of her graduate work at the University of Washington (M.M. 1996, D.M.A. 2009), she studied with Alex Klein and Rebecca Henderson, and received additional coaching or master class instruction from John Mack, Margriet Tindemanns, Bruce Haynes, Washington McClain, Sand Dalton, and Marcel Ponseele, among others.
In addition to her activities as an oboist, since 2006, Darlene has been composing chants and facilitating mindful singing workshops throughout the US and Canada, as well as in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Her music is in active use at Wisdom Schools, retreats, and Centering Prayer gatherings across North America and beyond. She is a frequent music collaborator with author and retreat leader Cynthia Bourgeault, and has led chant sessions at conferences including Ascending Voice (Pepperdine University), the All and Everything Conference (Netherlands), and smaller events featuring presenters Ravi Ravindra and Anthony Blake. In 2016 she made her debut as band leader at the Trinity Conference, presented by Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.