UW-Waukesha is highlighting Music Professor Craig Hurst, who is retiring after 24 years heading up the Symphonic Band and String Orchestra on campus. Hurst, who has a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of North Texas, has also served as the chair of the UW Colleges Music Department since 2004. Hurst indicated that it is these “colleagues from across the UW Colleges,” that he will miss the most.
During his years on campus, Hurst directed a brass ensemble, jazz ensemble, string ensemble and percussion ensemble. In addition, Hurst keeps very busy performing in seven community groups. If you visit the Lucky Rabbit in downtown Waukesha on Wednesdays, chances are good that you will hear him perform with at least one of these groups, including:
- Brass & Ivory: Craig on trumpet and vocals, Nancy Van Brunt on piano and vocals.
- 'Fessor Hurst and His Windy Hill Wizards Ragtime and Jazz Orchestra: Early Jazz Group playing the speakeasy music of Old New Orleans and Chicago.
- IntheShaw Brass Band: The ONLY contemporary New Orleans style brass band in the (262) area code playing R and B, Funk, Rock and traditional New Orleans party music!
- The Big Four: New Orleans inspired music with a modern twist.
- HorHORNZZ: An 8 piece jazz powerhouse playing modern jazz, fusion, funk and Latin inspired jazz.
- The Windy Hill Brass: The Musical Ambassadors of UW Waukesha. The Windy Hill Brass can perform as a trio, quartet, quintet or sextet, sometimes with Nancy Van Brunt as vocalist.
- The Jazz Express: A 19-piece jazz big band based in Waukesha, this group plays every summer with the Waukesha Park, Recreation and Forestry Bank with concerts in Cutler Park.
As for retirement, music will still be a passion as Hurst enjoys “going to the opera, symphony and listening to all kinds of music as well as planning to stay “very active performing, arranging and writing music.” An avid reader, with numerous books on the ‘to read list, he will “continue as a member of the UW Waukesha faculty reading seminar.” With a new granddaughter, Hurst is also very much looking forward to “watching her grow up and being part of her life.”
NANCY VAN BRUNT:
Since Craig’s wife, Nancy Van Brunt, Music Professor Emerita at UW-Waukesha, quietly retired in August, 2016, without fanfare, his retirement provides the perfect opportunity to share her story. With a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting and a PhD in Music Theory – all from UW-Madison, Van Brunt definitely has music in her bones! She began teaching for the UW Colleges in 1980. Before coming to UW-Waukesha in 1999, she taught at both UW-Fond du Lac and UW-Washington County.
During her years at UW-Waukesha, Nancy conducted the Concert Choir, the Vocal Jazz Ensemble and the Windy Hill Handbell Choir. She was also the Music Director for the summer musicals on campus. Like husband Craig - off campus, she is extremely active in the music field. She continues to lead the Handbell choir, plays the recorder in Hesternus, an early music ensemble (and is learning to play the folk harp and oboe), and is a vocalist and pianist in her church choir. She also plays the piano in Brass and Ivory (a piano and trumpet duo with Craig). According to Nancy, “retirement so far - not a dull moment!” In addition to her many music activities, that statement’s not hard to believe as she’s having “lots of fun with the creative crafts, such as beading, knitting and crocheting” as well as being a “full time Grandma, enjoying my granddaughter Evie.”
The final concert (with Hurst directing) is this Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm when The UW-Waukesha String Orchestra and UW-Waukesha Concert Choir performs in the Lunt Fontanne Theatre. Admission is $5 for all.