Department of Music

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Josef Hanson

Adjunct Instructor; Director, UR Brass Choir

Department of Music
1-340 Dewey Hall


Since 2002, Josef Hanson has maintained a vital role in the College Music Department at the University of Rochester, where he lends his talents as an instructor, administrator, advisor, and conductor. In the last decade, he has emerged as a musical entrepreneur throughout Western New York and the Finger Lakes region by continually developing and reinventing educational and artistic enterprises for music learners of all ages. As Manager of Music Performance Programs, Hanson provides administrative oversight for the College's lessons program and 14 faculty-directed ensembles, and also serves as advisor for the early admission MA programs in music education and ethnomusicology offered in conjunction with the Eastman School ofMusic. Hanson's "double life" as a practicing music educator has allowed him to develop and teach courses in music theory, conducting, and one of the first known collegiate courses on heavy metal music to be offered at any institution of higher learning.  Hanson also custom-designs and teaches a multitude of music courses at The Highlands at Pittsford, Ferris Hills at WestLake, and The Gables at Brighton senior living communities, and is on the faculty of the Hochstein School of Music and Dance. His interests in adolescent culture and empowerment through music have resulted in his involvement with the Rochester Scholars summer enrichment program for talented high school students, where he has designed and taught courses since 2008. In 2012, he was named a faculty associate in the University of Rochester's new Institute for Popular Music.

A native of Maryland, Hanson graduated summa cum laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in music education and also received a Master of Arts degree in music education from the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in music education at Eastman. A born-and-bred percussionist, Hanson switched to trombone in high school and went on to concentrate in trombone performance and music history as an undergraduate music education major. He studied trombone with Wayne Wells of the Annapolis Brass Quintet and MU1 David Perkel, lead trombone with the U.S. Navy Commodores jazz ensemble. A former music educator in the Frederick County (MD) public schools, Hanson has taught instrumental, choral, and general music in a wide variety of settings, with students aged kindergarten through adult. He is also the former executive director and conductor of the Frederick Symphonic Band, a regional honor band in suburban Maryland.

More recently, Hanson has been invited to share his love of music at speaking engagements sponsored by the Friends of Wood Library in Canandaigua, Finger Lakes Forum in Geneva, the Chatterbox Club in Rochester, and the UR Always Learning speaker series at the Highlands. These engaging presentations encompass a diverse array of topics, from Leonard Bernstein to the history of Christmas carols, and often draw capacity crowds. In 2010, Hanson served as the orchestra director for Everyone's Theater Company's production of The Wiz and received the Excellence in Orchestra Directing merit award from the Theatre Association of New York State (TANYS). His vision of a family of brass musicians on the River Campus resulted in his founding of the University of Rochester Brass Choir in 2008, and by 2010, the group had grown to 45 members representing nearly every school at UR. In early 2011, Hanson led the Brass Choir on its first-ever tour to Washington, D.C., which included performances for dignitaries such as Elizabeth Dole and John Glenn at the National Presbyterian Church and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among other venues. To date, the UR Brass Choir has collaborated with the UR Symphony Orchestra, Excelsior Cornet Band, Eastman School trumpet studios, 198th Army Reserve Band brass quintet, UR Carillon Society, Alphorn Society of Western New York, Smugtown Stompers Dixieland Jazz Band, Prime Time Brass, Rochester Scottish Pipes and Drums, and many other musical partners.

An aspiring writer in both scholarly and popular formats, Hanson's article detailing his experiences as founder and director of the UR Brass Choir is forthcoming in the magazine Teaching Music and will be the subject of a workshop at the 2013 NYSSMA Winter Conference. His educational overview of German national song in the Third Reich will soon be released via the scholarly journal Music and Politics. Hanson has also presented his research at the 5th International Conference on Self-Determination Theory, and he has led workshops for the student chapter of NAfME at Eastman and as a part of the UR Institute for Popular Music's professional development efforts. Hanson performs on trombone with Sinfonia CordAncia and other Rochester-area performing groups. His professional memberships include the College Music Society and the National Association for Music Education. He currently resides in Fairport, NY with his wife Katy and dog Cammie.