SMAA Founder and Executive Director, Greg Hillis, is a distinguished conductor, freelance musician, and teacher in the greater Cleveland area. A native of Chardon, OH, he is the Music Director of SMAA’s Snowbelt Symphony Orchestra, Lake Effect Concert Band, and Blizzard Youth Winds. He currently serves as the Principal Horn of the Firelands Symphony Orchestra (Sandusky, OH) and Third Horn of the Lima (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he frequently substitutes with the Cleveland POPS Orchestra, and has appeared with Cleveland Opera Theater, 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, Diamond Brass and Olympic Brass, and was a member of the Heritage Brass Quintet for nearly 20 years. He can be heard on two recordings with Heritage Brass, Christmas in Brass and It’s Showtime as well as Silver Bells with Olympic Brass. 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 Suburban Symphony Orchestra, Mansfield University Wind Ensemble, Kent State University Wind Ensemble and 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.
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.