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Bringing It Home – The Saint Rose Blog

Featured Faculty: Dr. Robert Hansbrough, Professor of Music

Dr. Robert Hansbrough
Saint Rose professors teach without relying on teaching assistants. They lead small classes and make themselves available to support students individually. But our professors across the College also work in their disciplines.

Their students benefit, moving beyond theory to get a first-hand account of what happens in their field on a given day. Practicing professors also support students who are conducting fieldwork – helping out with a challenge or suggesting whom to contact for assistance.

Another plus: Saint Rose students can leverage their professors’ professional contacts to net valuable internships and job leads.

Here is a look at one professor’s current work:

Dr. Robert Hansbrough, professor of music; director/conductor Saint Rose Wind Ensemble; instrumental student-teacher supervisor; Ph.D., music education/conducting, Florida State University

Joined Saint Rose faculty: 1999

Teaches: wind ensemble, instrumental conducting, chamber winds, woodwind quintet, chamber wind literature, percussion methods, applied percussion

Expertise: leads conducting and literature clinics, and guest conducts, throughout the U.S. and Europe; Guest Conductor in Residence, Szeged University, Hungary. Articles appear in “The School Music News,” “New York State Band Directors Association State Journal,” and other professional publications; co-author, second edition “Music For Concert Band: A Selected Annotated Guide for Wind Band Literature”

Current project: conductor, Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO) Wind Orchestra

The work: Early next year, Hansbrough will take to the stage of the Massry Center for the Arts, baton in hand, and inform the audience that he is about to bring together two bands that have never practiced together.

“I say ‘I’m about to give the down beat, and I have no idea what will happen,”’ he said of an annual ritual he still finds slightly terrifying.

The occasion is the joint concert of the ESYO Wind Orchestra and Saint Rose Wind Ensemble. Hansbrough is director of both. And he uses the moment of suspense to make a serious point.

“They are about to create a product ­– a product of music,” he explained. “Can you imagine two football teams who have never played together before working together with no guidance? Music is a common code. It should work.”

Dr. Robert Hansbrough conducting musicians

Hansbrough has been at it for decades, and he enjoys almost nothing more than reading a musical score to map out how 20-plus instruments should come together. Each time, he carefully considers the best sequence to teach a given work in to see to it his musicians are prepared for a concert performance.

At Saint Rose, he sets the bar high for the renowned wind ensemble he brings to stages from western New York to Eastern Europe. His students go on to become music teachers, solo and club band performers, military musicians, music supervisors, and studio owners.

But Hansbrough also spends two hours a week of rehearsals and four to six performances a year nourishing the talents of high school brass, woodwind, and percussion performers from a 50-mile radius.

He says he has an obligation to do so. The EYSO job also is an energizing departure from his College duties. Even the most talented high school musicians, he explained, need reminders to play with good tones, with precision, and in the appropriate style, expression, volume, and range.

“At the college level, you wouldn’t expect to say these things twice,” he explained.

It is the synergy he most enjoys. The Saint Rose students who sit in at an EYSO rehearsal show the younger players what to aspire to. The high school performers, in turn, acquaint the Saint Rose students with the types of students many of them will one day teach.

And most of the time at the February joint performance, the two troupes work flawlessly, if sight unseen.

“It’s always been very exciting as students come together 100 percent focused on making music in the moment,” he said. “It usually results in a standing ovation!”

Impact on students: “I get to connect high school kids to students and faculty in our music program. And our Saint Rose kids get to come and observe how I work with high school musicians; how to read the literature, how to prepare younger students for a concert. It makes me a lot stronger when I work with our students.”

Learn more about our music programs.


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