A native of Austin, Texas, Billy Ray Hunter has been Principal Trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra since 2004. He enjoys a versatile career in the classical music world that includes orchestral, chamber, and solo performances as well as several educational and outreach initiatives. He is a former member of the Grammy-nominated Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago.
In addition to his yearly work with the MET, Mr. Hunter has appeared as guest principal trumpet with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Malaysian Philharmonic in Kuala Lumpur, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in Germany, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Italy, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, and the Chineke! Orchestra in London. He has also had concerts with the New York Philharmonic and the New Jersey, Dallas, and Boston symphonies throughout his professional career. He previously held the position of Principal Trumpet and section trumpet with the New World and Baltimore symphonies respectively.
As a chamber musician Mr. Hunter has concertized with the MET Chamber Ensemble, Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, Lake Tahoe SummerFest Chamber Orchestra, Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Festival, Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, and recently with the Music Kitchen concert series in Lower Manhattan which features free lunchtime performances of various types of music for different homeless shelters across Manhattan.
Mr. Hunter has given master classes and recitals nationally and internationally with universities and schools including Curtis, the Juilliard School, University of Maryland, University of Texas at Austin, University of Denver, James Madison University, Memphis and Pittsburgh State universities, Stellenbosch University in South Africa and various venues in Tokyo, Japan. In addition, he is a frequent coach for the New York Youth Symphony in Manhattan and the National Youth Orchestra.
While at the University of Texas, Mr. Hunter won the UT Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, the Eastern Music Festival Concerto Competition in North Carolina, and the Kingsville International Solo Competition, Brass Division. Since then he has gone on to solo with several different ensembles, including the UT Wind Ensemble, NJCU Wind Ensemble and Symphony, Lake Tahoe Chamber Orchestra, Prizm Festival Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and the Grammy-nominated Serafic Fire and Firebird Chamber Orchestra. In addition to these honors, Mr. Hunter was awarded the Roger Voisin Outstanding Trumpeter prize by the Tanglewood Music Center. In 2010 he was granted the University of Texas Outstanding Young Texas-Exes award, one of the highest honors granted to alumni. In addition, he has won two Grammy awards for playing in the MET Opera performances of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic and Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Mr. Hunter currently holds a Bachelor’s degree from UT Austin and a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School. His teachers were former MET Principal Trumpet and NBC Radio Symphony member Raymond Crisara, Raymond Mase of the American Brass Quintet and the New York City Ballet, and Mark Gould, former Principal Trumpet of the MET Opera.