Praised for her “dazzling technique and soulful expressiveness,” (Rocky Mountain News), and a musical approach that’s “distinctly sensual…pliant, warm, and sweet,” (New York Times), Debra Nagy is one of North America’s leading performers on the baroque oboe. She is passionate about chamber music, was recently appointed principal oboe with Boston's Handel & Haydn Society, and performs with ensembles around the country (including the American Bach Soloists, Apollo’s Fire, Boston Early Music Festival, and others). Debra is the founder/director of Les Délices (whose debut recording was named “One of the Top Ten Early Music Discoveries of 2009”) and also performs late-medieval music as a regular guest with Boston’s acclaimed Blue Heron and Chicago's Newberry Consort. Debra has received many awards for her creative and scholarly pursuits including first-prize in the American Bach Soloists Young Artists Competition, a 2009 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a 2010 Creative Workforce Fellowship from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. She has recorded over 30 CDs with repertoire ranging from 1300-1800 and has had live performances featured on the radio across the U.S., Canada, and in Europe.
Inspired by a creative process that brings together research, composition in historical styles, improvisation, and artistic collaboration, highlights of Debra’s recent projects have included a critically-acclaimed multimedia productions of Machaut's medieval masterpiece Remede de Fortune and music from the recently-discovered Leuven Songbook (c. 1470), and a Baroque-Jazz crossover program called Songs without Words that not only expands the repertoire for her instrument but also challenges accepted notions about period instruments (CD released by Navona Recordings, November 2018). Debra’s passion for unearthing little-known masterpieces caused the New York Times to dub Les Délices “an early music group with an avant-garde appetite,” adding, “concerts and CDs by Les Délices are journeys of discovery.”
A dedicated and inspiring teacher, Debra serves on the artist faculties of the American Bach Soloists’ Summer Academy and the Oregon Bach Festival's Berwick Academy, and has given masterclasses at Juilliard, the Cleveland Institute of Music, San Francisco Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, and University of Washington. She is also committed to service and to fostering the next generation of leaders through her work as a mentor and as a former board member of Early Music America and liason to its Youth Advisory Board.
When not rehearsing, performing, or dreaming up new projects, Debra cooks prodigiously (including much canning and pickling) and loves commuting by bicycle from her home in Cleveland's historic Ohio City neighborhood.