Billy Ray Hunter, principal trumpeter for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, will join the faculty of the University of Texas Butler School of Music.
A native Austinite, Hunter is a 1997 graduate of the Butler School of Music. During his 16 years with the Met Opera, he has won two Grammy awards for playing in the performances of John Adams’s “Doctor Atomic” and Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. He is also a former member of the Grammy-nominated Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago.
“I’m thrilled to return to Austin as a Butler school of Music faculty member,” said Hunter in a press release. “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.”
In June, Hunter responded to the #TakeTwoKnees challenge issued by Anthony McGill, the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, whose minor key version of “America the Beautiful,” recorded in response to the murder of George Floyd and ensuing social justice protests, garnered national attentiion.
Hunter recorded and posted on Facebook his moving solo version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” which goes silent where “free” and “brave” should be, leaving the piece unresolved at the end. When he’s done playing, Hunter kneels, holding his hands in a “don’t shoot” gesture.
“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.”
After graduating from UT, Hunter went on to obtain a master’s degree from the Juilliard School. In 2010 he received the Outstanding Young Texas Exes award from UT, one of the highest honors granted to UT alumni. He also was honored by the College of Fine Arts with the E. William Doty Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2015.
Hunter was previously on faculty at the Manhattan School of Music. He has also performed with the New York Philharmonic and the New Jersey, Dallas and Boston symphonies throughout his professional career.