Dr. Richard Hornsby, UNB’s music director, has been a faculty member since 1993. He has played an important role in the development of the music programs offered by the university.
Hornsby is a performer, conductor and teacher. When he came across an open position at UNB and saw that the university had no music program, he knew there was an opportunity.
“That intrigued me, and so it wasn’t necessarily the position I was looking for, but it just sort of happened to be the kind of thing I thought I could be successful at, so I went for it,” he said.
Apart from the music program, Dr. Hornsby was also involved in the evolution of what is now Music UNB. The event, which gives opportunities to regional and international artists to share their talents, had been hosted by the university for quite some time, but when he got involved in it he focused on hosting chamber music, taking advantage of Memorial Hall.
“It really is a beautiful hall acoustically for this kind of music,” explained Hornsby. “So we take advantage of that.”
Dr. Hornsby has been involved with music since his childhood. He chose music over athletics when he went to university, which was his first step on the road to where he is now. He attended the University of Toronto and transferred from the music program to the performance music program. He also kept building conducting skills by getting involved in a university musical which he helped to write. On the side, he ran a jazz group for the people who wanted to be involved in music, but were not studying it at university.
The music program at UNB gives students an opportunity to pursue their interests. The program can be taken as a minor, and offers concert band, choir and orchestra (which is conducted by Dr. Hornsby).
“If you look at raw numbers, we have more students involved in music than some of the other universities in the area that have full music programs. We have a fairly big imprint on the university community [with] what we do,” Hornsby said.
When looking for instruments for the music program, he came across some vintage musical instruments that were custom made for UNB with money donated from Lord Beaverbrook. He also found some old music, and, interestingly enough, a “UNB song.”
He mentioned the influence easy access music (such as that available on streaming platforms) has on people, and how the taste for music is now more diluted, resulting in fewer global discussions about individual artists or bands coming out with new music.
“When I came up it was all about buying records, and because I played music I was also interested in live music,” said Hornsby. While perhaps items like record players are having a revival among certain circles of young people, for the majority, the way that music is absorbed has changed drastically. Hornsby reflected on the way that music and its influence changes from generation to generation.
“For kids growing up it’s still a really big part of their lives, It’s something that you as a young teenager can grab onto and have– something that’s yours.”