SMAA founder, Executive Director, and ensemble conductor, Greg Hillis, is a distinguished freelance musician and teacher in the greater Cleveland area. A native of Chardon, OH, he currently serves as the Principal Horn of the Firelands Symphony Orchestra (Sandusky, OH), Principal Horn for Cleveland Opera Theater, and Fourth/Substitute Principal Horn of the Lima (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he has appeared with the Cleveland POPS Orchestra, Mansfield Symphony, Ashland Symphony, Cleveland Philharmonic, Elmira Symphony and Williamsport Symphony.
As a chamber musician, Greg is the hornist for two Cleveland-based brass quintets, the Heritage Brass Quintet and Olympic Brass, and is a founding member of the woodwind sextet, Ekklésia. He can be heard on two recordings with Heritage Brass, Christmas in Brass and It’s Showtime. An aficionado of all types of musical theater, Greg enjoys performing with theater groups across the region. On summer weekends you will often find him in the pit at Rabbit Run Theater where he has been playing shows for more than 20 years.
Mr. Hillis has appeared as a horn soloist with the Mansfield University Wind Ensemble, the Kent State University Wind Ensemble and the Lakeland Civic Band. In April of 2015 he gave the world-premiere performance of Joseph Hollings’ Standing on the Bank of the River Pant for solo horn, written especially for him, at a concert of Akron’s Tuesday Musical Association.
Greg conducted both the Great Geauga County Fair Band and Junior Fair Band from 2004-2016. He has also appeared as a guest conductor with the Lakeland Civic Band, Medina Community Band, and Hillcrest Concert Band as well as many high school and middle school ensembles.
As an active composer and arranger, he has several compositions published through Alfred Music and C.L. Barnhouse. Many of the arrangements played by the Great Geauga County Fair Band and Olympic Brass were written by Greg.
In addition to his performance activities, Mr. Hillis is active as a teacher and clinician. He is on the adjunct faculty at Hiram College, where he gives horn lessons. He works with students age 9 to adult at his home, Geauga Music Center in Chardon, OH and Rabbit Run Community Arts Association in Madison, OH. Current and former students have performed with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Contemporary Youth Orchestra, Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony, Etowah Youth Orchestra, and regional honors ensembles. Greg also works with area marching bands and does brass technique clinics for local schools.
Mr. Hillis holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, where he studied horn with David Borsheim and conducting with Hector Valdivia, and a Master of Music degree in Horn Performance and Music Education from Kent State University, where he studied horn with Kent Larmee and conducting with Wayne Gorder.