French horn professor performs in faculty concert

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Patrick Hughes, a French horn soloist and UT associate professor, has played the French horn since he was in fifth grade.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Patrick Hughes | Daily Texan Staff

Since arriving in Austin 14 years ago, Patrick Hughes and his French horn have accompanied everything from the Austin City Brass to Willie Nelson. His next performance will be Tuesday alongside other Butler School of Music faculty members.

Hughes, a music associate professor at UT, will be performing with five other professors in a Faculty Artist Concert at the Jessen Auditorium. The ensemble will also feature the piano, clarinet, bassoon, violin and string bass. 

Coming from a large, musical family, Hughes first picked up the french horn in fifth grade not because of a specific desire to play the instrument but because of a desire to be different from his family.

“My family had picked other instruments, and [the horn] was one that was left,” Hughes said. “I also wanted to be with my friends who were also picking band instruments.”

Despite his unorthodox way for choosing an instrument, Hughes became skilled with the horn, performing in a number of orchestras and ensembles around the country. After attending both St. Olaf College and University of Wisconsin-Madison, he taught at a number of universities before coming to UT in 2001. Hughes said that he came to the University because of the reputation of the school and its faculty.

“It’s a great school,” Hughes said. “The faculty are top-notch. They’re just the cream of the crop. I was happy to join such an exciting school of music.”

Hughes works closely with a small number of students who play the French horn and he meets with each of them for a private lesson once a week. He also meets with all of the students together twice a week for a studio class. Hughes said he enjoys working with students from all levels.

“I love teaching those huge range of students — from freshman all the way up to the master’s- and doctoral-level players,” Hughes said. “Every hour is different, and every day I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I like that.”

In addition to regular lessons, Hughes’ horn class features guest residencies and master classes with visiting artists. The class also performs recitals and plays in chamber ensembles regularly. Although Hughes mainly teaches his students classical music, he said he enjoys showing them how to play modern pieces as well.

“Primarily, I’m teaching classical French horn — teaching students to play in orchestra and professional chamber groups,” Hughes said. “But we end up playing a lot of other stuff. You’ll see French horns everywhere, so we also play popular music.”

In addition to teaching horn students, Hughes performs frequently in University concerts. The faculty concert Tuesday will be different from others in that Hughes will be the only performer to play in each piece.

“Each piece involves me with a different group of performers,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the concert, which will focus on chamber music, is a great way to play that style with other professors.

“I love to give recitals, and it’s a joy to play with my colleagues in the school of music,” Hughes said. “It’s fun to all get together and play different music, and chamber music is great.”