Dr. Thomas Hunt, typically donned in his notorious sweater vests, has been directing the Ohio Northern University Wind Orchestra for 10 years. After retiring from teaching in the spring of 2017, Dr. Hunt has decided that the spring of 2018 will be the last semester he directs the Wind Orchestra. Though he will still instruct French horn lessons on campus, his retirement from the Wind Orchestra will mark the end of a spirited and successful 10-year tenure directing one of Ohio Northern’s finest ensembles.
Dr. Hunt originally joined the music faculty at Ohio Northern in 2008. One of the first influences he had in the department was renaming the formerly titled “Wind Ensemble” to its current title of “Wind Orchestra.” I reached out to an alumnus, Matt Keasal, who was there for Dr. Hunt’s first year. Matt spoke very highly of his experience working with Dr. Hunt.
“From the first rehearsal, I knew that Dr. Hunt had a vivid, motivated and specific sound and demeanor he was looking for in his groups. When you thought a piece was polished and perfected, he would find the small things that take a group and piece from great to exceptional.” Keasal went on to talk about it leading to concerts that were challenging, diverse and lead to interesting music choices that you wouldn’t normally hear.
“Dr. Hunt’s direction has influenced me and others beyond the podium as well. In my own teaching as a band director the last six years,” said Keasal.
Keasal believes that Dr. Hunt set the bar high for what a Wind Orchestra should be and what a Wind Orchestra should sound like. “I am sure I am not the only alumni that will carry his methods and ideas beyond ONU and beyond his career as Wind Orchestra director. I wish him the best of luck.”
Matt graduated from Ohio Northern University in 2010 with a degree in Music Education.
Another alumnus, Alyssa Scebbi, credited Dr. Hunt for being the spark that lit her career in music.
“Dr. Hunt was one of the first music faculty members I met during my time at ONU, and one of the most influential. Perhaps this is mostly because he introduced me to one of my favorite board games, Settlers of Catan (I kid, of course).”
“He was very encouraging as I changed my major to music of- ficially. When I decided to get serious about the clarinet, he helped me track down a professional model and helped me purchase it.”
“The Wind Orchestra tour to Germany in 2011 was such a wonderful and amazing experience, one that would not have been possible without Dr. Hunt.”
Alyssa graduated from Ohio Northern in 2012 with a degree in Music Composition.
Dr. Hunt’s goals for the Wind Orchestra were always ambitious, but never unachievable. “I wanted the Wind Orchestra to play really good literature at the highest level,”
Hunt said, “and I wanted to incorporate both majors and non-majors in a challenging way.” His favorite memories with the ensemble have been just like many of his students’: going on the trips to Europe. A great deal of Dr. Hunt’s education took place in Germany, where he attended the Berlin Konservatorium and University Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. The tours that the Wind Orchestra would take in Europe were an opportunity for Ohio Northern musicians to discover some of the cultural roots of western music and to expose them to the experience of performing on the global stage.
As a final note, Dr. Hunt has shared advice he has for higher education students engaging in musical performance:
“People need to ask themselves the question of why they’re alive, and why they work. Do they work to live, or live to work? To me, being involved in the creation of beauty is what I understand to be truly living.”
“I have enjoyed my time at Ohio Northern immensely. I have high respect for my colleagues, and the students are a true blessing.”