General Faculty Member in the Spotlight

Aaron Hill


General Faculty Member: Aaron Hill


Aaron Hill serves on the music faculty at the University of Virginia, plays principal oboe in the Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra and English horn in the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. He spends summers performing as principal oboe with the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, where he has recently been appointed as co-director of the Wintergreen Oboe Seminar. Mr. Hill holds Master of Music and Artist Diploma degrees from the Yale School of Music, where he received the Thomas Nyfenger Memorial Prize and a Bachelor of Music degree with Highest Honors from the University of Michigan, where he played principal oboe on William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and Experience with Leonard Slatkin, a project that won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Album. In addition to his professional activities, he is enrolled full-time in the Doctor of Musical Arts program at James Madison University. From 2002 to 2008, Mr. Hill played principal oboe in the Flint Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed as principal oboe with the Rochester Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Richmond Symphony, and Ann Arbor Symphony. Mr. Hill was awarded the Grand Prize in the Mu Phi Epsilon Society for Musical Arts Competition and the Leche Trust Prize at the Barbirolli International Oboe Competition. He travels around North America as an active recitalist and masterclass clinician, and has been a featured speaker at the TEDxSkidRow and Tom Tom Founders Festival conferences. 

1. Describe your career and typical activities associated with your position as a non-tenure track faculty member.

My position is a hybrid arrangement of responsibilities created by the McIntire Department of Music and the Charlottesville Symphony Society. I teach applied oboe lessons to a full studio of undergraduate, graduate, and community students I've recruited, coach woodwind chamber ensembles, provide sectional rehearsals for our large ensembles, and perform as principal oboe with the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra, with the Albemarle Ensemble (our faculty wind quintet), and as a soloist. In addition to my responsibilities here, I play English horn in the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, principal oboe in the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, co-coordinate the Wintergreen Oboe Seminar, and travel to schools of music throughout North America performing recitals and offering guest master classes.

2. Why did you choose to build (or continue) your career at UVA?

When I was finishing graduate school, I applied for everything posted. At one point, there was an 8 week window where I had 12 auditions/interviews scheduled. My UVA interview was one of the first in the process and the interview left me enamored with the location (I'd never seen Charlottesville before) and the possibility of working with such strong colleagues and students. I didn't receive the offer until I was in the warmup room for audition #11, but I was so sure it was a good fit for me that I accepted the job immediately and withdrew from everything else. Other possibilities have come along in the job market, but it would have to be an extraordinary situation for me to consider leaving what we have here. I'm happy to be in my 6th year on the faculty and already the most senior wind instructor.

3. What are the most significant advantages/rewards associated with your career at UVA?

My students and colleagues are intelligent, driven, talented people. The fact that we aren't set up like a conservatory means all of my oboe students are preparing for careers in other fields, but still dedicate themselves toward making their own reeds and improving at one of the most notoriously challenging instruments. I've already seen that pay off for my recent graduates, as their experience in music helps them distinguish themselves professionally in fields like law, medicine, dentistry, education, and the sciences. My position is relatively new, and with the talent our salaried, nationally searched positions have been able to attract, our performance faculty is consistently strong and dedicated to helping our students achieve their goals. If I look around for a weak link these days, I don't see one, so doesn't that mean it must be me?

4. What are the most significant challenges that you face (or have faced) in your career at UVA?

For whatever disadvantages we have, unique to our situation or common among peer institutions, the department has assembled an amazing group of people that has outgrown our inadequate facilities. Applied instructors lack offices and often can't even be assigned makeshift rooms for lessons because of excess demand for our successful programs. Even though we're half-time lecturers, we treat the job like we're full-time professors, so at some point we hope to see our investment in the students and university rewarded with action towards building better instructional spaces and performance venues soon.

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