This fall, the Butler School of Music in the UT College of Fine Arts welcomes distinguished UT alumnus Billy Ray Hunter as professor of trumpet. Hunter has served as principal trumpet in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 16 years.
An Austin native and a graduate of the Butler School of Music, in 2010 Hunter received the Outstanding Young Texas Exes award, one of the highest honors granted to alumni. He also was honored by the college with the E. William Doty Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2015.
“We are thrilled by the return of Billy Hunter to campus,” said Butler School of Music Director Mary Ellen Poole. “Our students will benefit tremendously both from his extraordinary professional achievements and from his drive to make meaningful change in the world.”
Hunter has had a versatile career in the classical music world that includes orchestral, chamber and solo performances, as well as several educational and outreach initiatives. He is a former member of the Grammy-nominated Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago.
In addition to his yearly work with the MET, Hunter has appeared as guest principal trumpet with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Malaysian Philharmonic in Kuala Lumpur, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in Germany, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Italy, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina and the Chineke! Orchestra in London. He has also performed with the New York Philharmonic and the New Jersey, Dallas and Boston symphonies throughout his professional career. He previously held the position of principal trumpet and section trumpet and third associate trumpet with the New World, Baltimore and Grant Park symphonies, respectively.
As a chamber musician, Hunter has performed with the MET Chamber Ensemble, Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, Lake Tahoe SummerFest Chamber Orchestra, Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Festival and the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival. He’s also participated in the Music Kitchen concert series, which features free lunchtime performances of various types of music for different homeless shelters across Manhattan.
Hunter has given master classes and recitals nationally and internationally with universities and conservatories including the Curtis Institute, the Juilliard School, University of Maryland, University of Texas at Austin, University of Denver, James Madison University, Memphis and Pittsburgh State universities, Stellenbosch University in South Africa and various venues in Tokyo. In addition, he is a frequent coach for the New York Youth Symphony in Manhattan and the National Youth Orchestra.
While at the University of Texas, Hunter won the UT Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, the Eastern Music Festival Concerto Competition in North Carolina and the Kingsville International Solo Competition, Brass Division. Since then he has gone on to solo with several different ensembles, including the UT Wind Ensemble, NJCU Wind Ensemble and Symphony, Lake Tahoe Chamber Orchestra, Prizm Festival Orchestra, the New World Symphony and the Grammy-nominated Serafic Fire and Firebird Chamber Orchestra.
In addition to these honors, Hunter was awarded the Roger Voisin Outstanding Trumpeter prize by the Tanglewood Music Center. He has won two Grammy awards for playing in the MET Opera performances of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic and Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle.
Hunter holds a bachelor’s degree from UT Austin and a master’s degree from the Juilliard School. His teachers include former MET Principal Trumpet and NBC Radio Symphony member Raymond Crisara, who taught Hunter at UT, Raymond Mase of the American Brass Quintet and the New York City Ballet, and Mark Gould, former Principal Trumpet of the MET Opera. He was previously on faculty at the Peabody Institute, NJCU and the Manhattan School of Music.
“I’m thrilled to return to Austin as a Butler school of Music faculty member,” said Hunter. “The education I got from my teacher and the music school faculty as a student was life-changing. I am anxious to share my knowledge of music with the students at UT, as well as present new ideas for diversity and inclusion in the music school and the university.”