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Musician of the Month: Gregory Hustis

Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 in Noteworthy

By Laurie Shulman

Any organization comprising 90 musicians has its share of comings and goings, and the on stage appearance of the Dallas Symphony alters slightly every year. The position of principal horn, however, has remained unchanged for the last 34 years. In September, Gregory Hustis embarked on his 35th season as principal. But this will be his final year in the Howard E. Rachofsky Principal Horn Chair.


Over the years, Hustis has anchored a stable and stellar horn section that is one of the orchestra's glories. How many times have we marveled at his artistry in the heavenly slow movement of the Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony, or enjoyed the sassy shenanigans of his solo in Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks; or thrilled when the DSO horns gear up for the trio section of the scherzo in Beethoven's Eroica Symphony? Hustis's gleaming tone and impeccable technique have been an essential component of our orchestra's character.



Hustis joined the DSO in 1976 when Louis Lane, a protégé of George Szell, was the orchestra's conductor. "I learned a tremendous amount from him about balance and dynamics, especially how loud or soft to play as principal horn," Hustis says.


During the Eduardo Mata (music director from 1977 to 1993) and Andrew Litton (1994-2006) eras, Hustis presided over a horn section that remained unchanged for a remarkable 23 years. "I've been fortunate to work with some really nice people. Paul Capehart is the only one left from the old guard."


He is deservedly proud of the alumni of his DSO horn sections. "We have had remarkable horn players join the DSO, stay with us for a few years, then move on to higher positions with other orchestras," he points out. Former DSO colleagues include the current principal horns of Detroit and Philadelphia and associate principals of the Houston and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras. "The DSO has always been a great environment in which to grow musically and professionally," Hustis says.


Beginning next fall for two seasons, Hustis will assume a new role as Principal Emeritus. "I want to do whatever I can to help the section and the new principal horn - play a couple of years anywhere in the section where I am needed," Hustis says. "This way, I can spend more time thinking about the music in general and not so much about just playing my part."


He also plans to devote more time to solo and chamber music. For 24 years, Hustis has performed at the Music in the Mountains Festival in Durango, Colorado. Ten years ago, he took charge of the festival's chamber music activities; in 2008 he became the organization's artistic director. "Greg has been instrumental in building our summer festival," declares Katherine Freiberger, a long-time DSO patron who has served on the Durango festival board. "In addition to being an eloquent horn player, he's done fine programming and has integrated himself into the Durango community."


Hustis also has an impressive track record as a teacher, serving as adjunct professor of horn at Southern Methodist University for more than 25 years. Nicholas Caluori, an SMU graduate now in the West Point Band, says that Hustis is a born teacher and an influential role model. "Greg is a huge proponent of self-sufficiency, encouraging students to teach themselves so that he becomes more of a coach. He knows how to ignite talent and ability as he helps the student move toward being a professional."


Caluori's wife Nicole, another SMU graduate who plays principal horn in the West Point Band, says, "Greg is really demanding, but he's quiet about it. He wants to see and hear his students at their full potential at all times. He has had a significant impact on both of us."


Hustis's fellow musicians hold him in high regard. "Greg has been a constant source of inspiration and musical leadership within the orchestra," says John Kitzman, the DSO's principal trombone. "His consistency of tone, phrasing, and performance of the most challenging horn passages over a period of more than 30 years place him in the highest echelon of horn players."


Hustis is nostalgic about the orchestra he will leave in 2014. "One of the most difficult factors to overcome in my decision is that Jaap van Zweden has transformed the DSO," Hustis says. "We've always been very good, but he has made the DSO a great orchestra. His musical integrity never wavers. He never lets up, and the end results are often memorable."




2 comments for “Musician of the Month: Gregory Hustis”

  • Posted Monday, October 31, 2011 at 2:11:54 PM

    The article gives a good look at a valued, long time member member of DSO .\ We, in the audience, shall miss him upon his retirement, but look forward to his ongoing service to music that he will surely continue.

    Katherine Freiberger

  • Posted Sunday, January 06, 2013 at 4:40:45 PM

    I very much enjoyed the Music in the Mountains festival - will definitely be back. Congrats, Greg!

    Laura Dean

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