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Composition Faculty


Michael Ippolito

Praised by the New York Times for his “polished orchestration” that “glitters, from big-shoulders brass to eerily floating strings,” Michael Ippolito’s music has been performed by leading musicians in venues around the world. Drawing on a rich musical background of classical and folk music, and taking inspiration from visual art, literature and other art forms, he has forged a distinctive musical voice in a body of work spanning orchestral, chamber and vocal music. 

His orchestral music has been conducted by Edo de Waart, Marin Alsop, Michael Fracnis, David Alan Miller and Jeffrey Milarsky in performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra and the Juilliard Orchestra. His chamber music has been performed by the Attacca Quartet, the Miró Quartet, the Altius Quartet, Dinosaur Annex, and janus, among others, and his vocal music has been championed by sopranos Joèlle Harvey and Lindsay Kesselman.

He has received commissions from numerous organizations, including Carnegie Hall and the ASCAP Foundation, The Florida Orchestra, Chamber Music America, the University of Georgia Wind Ensemble, ensemble 20/21 in Cologne, and the New York Choreographic Institute.

He has received numerous awards, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Charles Ives Scholarship), The Juilliard School (Palmer Dixon Prize) and ASCAP (multiple ASCAP Plus Awards). Recently, his wind ensemble work West of the Sun was given an honorable mention in the 2014 Frederick Fennell Prize and his String Quartet No. 3 “Songlines” was selected as the runner up in the Apollo Chamber Players Commissioning Competition.

He was a composer fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and the Cultivate program at the Copland House in 2012. From 2004-2011, he was a participating composer and performer in MusicX, an innovative festival of new music in Cincinnati and Switzerland, where he worked as General Manager from 2008-2011. He has also participated in the "Upbeat Hvar" International Summer School in Croatia, Yiddish Summer Weimar in Germany and the Oregon Bach Festival's Composers Symposium. 

Michael Ippolito studied with John Corigliano at The Juilliard School and with Joel Hoffman and Michael Fiday at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.


Richard Hall

Richard Hall is a musician, composer and music educator based in central Texas.  His main interest is performing live laptop “art” music in concert settings.  Richard has performed at several national and international conferences and festivals including those sponsored by the College Music Society, the National Association of Composers USA, the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, the International Society of Improvising Musicians and the Texas Society of Music Theorists.  His music has also been featured at conferences by the National Flute Association, the Society of Composers, Inc., the Vox Novus 60x60 Contemporary Music Project, the Electronic Music Midwest Festival and the International Computer Music Association as wells as the Sonic Art Oxford Festival in England and the LOOP Video Art Festival in Spain.  His electronic music has been used at art museums in many major US and European cities.

Richard has received numerous commissions throughout the country, scored several independent films, written for television series, documentaries and theatrical productions and has pieces published by Dorn Publications and GoFish Music.  His music has also been recorded by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for ERM Media and the Wild Basin Winds with the Emmy award-winning children's group The Biscuit Brothers.  He is also the recipient of several ASCAP Plus Awards grants.  His musical collaborations with dancers have been featured in Mexico, Uruguay, Romania, Scotland, Guatemala, and Berlin, Germany.  More information can be found at

Richard is currently a Senior Lecturer of Music at Texas State University-San Marcos. His teaching duties include Music Composition, Electronic Composition, Music Technology, and Humanities.  He also directs the Texas Mysterium for New Music Ensemble.


Jack Wilds

Wilds' music has been performed at educators’ conferences world wide and in international venues including the Midwest Clinic, the International Trombone Festival, and the Slider Asia Clinic in Hong Kong. His works for concert band have been selected to the J.W. Pepper Editor’s Choice List and the Bandworld Top 100 and appear on required festival lists across the world. They are published by the FJH Music Company, Grand Mesa Music, and TRN Music. His music for choir is published by Heritage Music Press.

Wilds' chamber music has been performed by collegiate ensembles across the country, the Attacca Quartet, and members of the New York Philharmonic and the Atlanta Symphony. Principal commissions have come from the University Interscholastic League, the Columbus State University Trombone Ensemble, and middle school and high school bands across the country.

In addition to his career as a composer, he is an active clinician and music educator. From 2010-2016, he was a public school band director in the Austin area and taught at both the middle school and high school level. He has served as a clinician across the United States and collaborated with musicians of all ages. Currently, Wilds is the Co-Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church in San Marcos and an adjunct faculty member at Texas State University, where he teaches music theory and aural skills and serves as the composer in residence for the Austin Children's Choir.

He has studied composition with Michael Ippolito at Texas State and Donald Grantham at the University of Texas.

Hank Hehmsoth

Hank Hehmsoth is the MacDowell Norton Stevens Fellow in Composition, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Jazz Composition, and is a Fulbright Specialist in American Studies, one of a distinguished group of U.S. professionals who travels abroad through the Fulbright Program. Hehmsoth conducted master classes of contemporary American jazz in performance and theory at the ProJazz Profesional Institute, Santiago, Chile, Summer 2013. He held seminars of commercial arranging and composition for television and film, as well as website development, publicity and promotion. He won top honors in the professional category placing first in the 2010 National Association of Composers, USA, Texas Composition Competition, with a string quartet, “X-trusions- a déjà vu in 4D.” The piece was performed during the International Joint Conference on Latin-American and Modern Music, held Feb. 26-27 at the School of Music. He received a New Music USA grant in music composition for 2012. Hehmsoth received a grant from The Composer Assistance Program, which assists composers to realize their music in performance. The grant is project-based, and facilitates the public performance of Hehmsoth's composition "Carlos' n Charlie's" at the worldwide 15th Annual Inside Out Steelband Festival in Austin. In 2014, he was invited as a trainer/clinician for professional Army and Air Force career musicians, sponsored by the US Dept. of Defense, Fort Eustis, Virginia. He received the 2014 Texas State University Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities, is a Spotlight on Excellence at Texas State University, and is the 2015 recipient of the Dean’s Seminar Award. He is a Distinguished Academic Member of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER). Hank is pianist with the Grammy© nominated jazz group Times Ten, and is showcased at the 2015 Jazz Education Network (JEN) Annual International Conference in San Diego, 2015, and again in New Orleans, January 2017, and was principal pianist for the debut of Philip Glass' "Icarus At The Edge Of Time" 2014. He was awarded his second Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program grant for lectures and master classes in Santiago, Chile 2016. He presents a social context in his compositions, embodying a compelling consciousness for music to reflect positively on our place in a global community. 

“I am out to create a new, signature American sound, from a synthesis of contemporary art music, jazz, and world music, with a global approach and unique blend of influences, that gives my music a brand, its own distinctive place in the international scene. I wish to push my music in new directions, and continue focusing on socially engaged programming." 

Hank's students play piano, bass, sax, flute, guitar, and have won awards and scholarships including Berklee School and the Patti Strickel Harrison Scholarship. Composition students learn commercial arranging and contemporary techniques in jazz. His studio includes international students from Serbia, China, and  South America. 

Recent student comments:

  • "...the best teacher I have had throughout all of my degrees. His work ethic is tremendous. I have recommended him to the best students I know. He continually gave more time than was required in our meetings, and was never in a hurry to end the lesson."
  • "...He's very knowledgeable and seems to like what he does. That quality is hard to read in others."
  • "...This is the most fun class in the School of Music."
  • "Thanks again for the awesome class. Seriously, this is the most useful stuff I've encountered in my education thus far."


"Hank is different from the traditional composer because he's a working jazz man. He brings that "player's" perspective to what he writes whether it's a jazz work or classical work …some of the best jazz you'll hear around here, or anywhere else, for that matter." John Bustin - Austin American Statesman

"... very loose and open to possibilities, he takes it to another level, writing, playing, his compositions continue to evolve and grow. I had a chance to play with Hank and hear some of his compositions as well. A very fine musician, indeed! He demonstrates a strong sense of originality and compositional craft."
Bob Mintzer - jazz saxophonist, composer - Yellowjackets 

Hank was a member of the Austin-Texas based Christopher Cross group, which won five Grammy Awards as well as an Academy Award for best song.  As a performing artist with a career spanning over three decades, Hank has remarkably played over 10,000 international, national, state and regional area performances, from classical to jazz to pop/rock, as well as Broadway, concert tour music, nightclubs, and symphony. He is a lifetime voting member for the GRAMMY© Awards.