Meet The Interim Director of Butler School of Music

Glenn Richter has directed the Longhorn Band Program and Symphony Band for 15 years.

Professor Glenn Richter, interim director of Butler School of Music, has been with The University of Texas for over 25 years. His obvious passion for music, from classics to music business technique, can be seen in works and programs all over campus. In addition to directing the Longhorn Band Program and Symphony Band for 15 years, he’s taught courses in plan II, music literature and instrumental conducting. More recently, Professor Richter heads the Longhorn Music Label and teaches music business courses. Ask any student witness — his teaching style is both approachable and inspirational. Longhorn Life asked Richter about what inspired his own career and what he thinks about the future of the music industry.

Longhorn Life: When were you first introduced to music, and how would you say it became your life’s passion?

Glenn Richter: I spent a lot of my formative years following my dad's band; that’s how I’d say I was first introduced. He was a drummer and performed on stage for many years. By the time I was eight, I’d learned to play enough piano to replace the accordion player in his band. Then, I’d taken up drums in the fifth grade, probably because it’s what my father played, and on through junior high before switching to the baritone in high school.

I grew up in New Braunfels, and back then high school bands still marched in cities’ holiday parades. Eventually, I attended UT-Austin as a piano performance major, but also continued playing and marching with my baritone in the Longhorn Band.

Since I’d grown up with music all around me, I suppose it was my dad’s and uncle’s influences that really impacted my passion. They loved listening and making music so much, it was infectious.

LL: Would you elaborate on your position as Longhorn Band Director and other leadership for the university’s music program?

GR: In 1975, I was named the assistant director at UT-Austin. Five years later, I became the head director for the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, before returning in 1980 to direct the Longhorn Band until 1995. By that point, I’d been directing for years and years and was ready to move into another area of teaching — it’s a young man’s game. That’s when I was invited to teach a plan II honors seminar on music business, which later developed into a series of courses, and is now a major in the Butler School of Music.

I’d say my next role came around 2005 when I helped to create the Longhorn Music Label, a university-powered label that distributes classical artists, jazz ensembles and the like. With the fortunate distribution help of Naxos, one of the foremost classical distributers in the world, the LML has released 11 or 12 great works. I look forward to the future of LML and the music business program as we build more of an entrepreneurial incubator for its students and musicians. Ed Fair, a music attorney, and Gary Powell, a former composer for Disney, have more recently joined our campus to help out with this. I’m thrilled to have them both here to teach and assist.

LL: Can you tell me a few of your favorite memories as the Director of the with Longhorn Band?

GR: If you were to ask me about the years I was in the band myself, I would say playing during the national championship of 1969. As a director, there was one particular game that stood out to me. When UT played Penn State at their stadium in front of the entire east coast media, our band performed so well that even the Penn State side came out of their seats. The show was just electric and I could tell the students were at their absolute best. On that same trip, we played with the New York Philharmonic brass and closed with “America The Beautiful” — another incredible performance.

LL: What sort of coursework could a freshman or student interested in the music business major expect to experience?

GR: Well, there are lots of courses in the major that cover all sorts of relevant information about the business. We have introductory courses covering copyright law, licensing, content and strategy. Just this week we had Director of the Performing Arts Center Kathy Panoff come talk about her role in measuring and managing content and behavior on stage. Other courses touch on different public relations and managerial elements to music, all the way to how artists are responding to things — Miley Cyrus, for example; she’s not out of the question for discussion. More courses discuss ethical topics regarding illegal downloading and sharing programs that are so accessible today, like Spotify.

LL: As a professor of such interconnected topics, have you noticed any particular shifts in the industry? And on that note, would you consider the recent repopularization of musical festivals to be of great importance?

GR: Well, I expect that successful music festivals will continue to grow, simply because artists can’t make as much as they used to from their own music sales.

As far as the industry changing as a whole, I see the social interactive nature has a much bigger effect than before. Today shows like “X Factor” and “The Voice” determine who gets popularized; the voting audience is discovering talent now. Artists who are active on social media also gain more success because they’re simply more connected to listeners. I would advise any students going into the industry, artist or business-side, to become an expert in the social media. The networks have been sustainable so far, and I don’t think they’re going anywhere. In my classes, I also speak about the general importance of technology and its potential to impact in music. Being attuned to such technology, and its potential, can mean big things for a student.

LL: You’ve been teaching and producing great change for our university for many years now. What’s in your near future?

GR: The classroom truly recharges me. Being around such a talented faculty and staff, the quality of students and general curiosity around campus is a wonderful thing. There are many great things happening on our campus, like research and development, and not just in science. It’s easy to get up in the morning. I would like to continue to teach and input as long as I feel that I can be effective. Then, I’ll step back and see what others ways I might assist The University of Texas.