Robert R. Fink joined the music faculty at WMU in 1957 as its first full-time horn specialist. He taught music theory at WMU (Ph.D. in Music Theory from Michigan State University), was a founding member of both the Western Brass Quintet and Western Wind Quintet, and for ten years was Principal Horn in the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed Assistant Chair of WMU’s Department of Music in 1967 and then served as Chair for six years beginning in 1972.
In 1978 he became Dean of the College of Music at the University of Colorado at Boulder and served in that role until his retirement in 1993. Mr. Fink and his wife Ruth J. Fink endowed the horn studio in 2005. This fund generously supports the annual Horn Day festival, the Western Horn Choir library, guest artists, musical instruments for the studio (including a descant horn), and other studio activities.
Neill Sanders joined the faculty in 1969 after three decades of professional playing in Europe.
He played second horn to famed horn virtuoso Dennis Brain in the Philharmonia Orchestra and recorded with Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones, and on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. He was principal horn with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the B.B.C. Symphony Orchestra. The horn part in Benjamin Britten’s Church Parables and the chamber orchestra part in Britten’s War Requiem were written for Sanders. Sanders was a founding member of the Melos Ensemble of London, which was a premiere chamber ensemble with mixed instrumentation. Melos made about two dozen recordings, including the Brahms Trio, Schubert “Auf dem Strom,” and Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro. Fashioned after Melos, Sanders founded the Fontana Concert Society in Kalamazoo and served as its Executive and Artistic Director from 1980 until his death in 1992. The Society merged with another organization and is now called Fontana Chamber Arts, which is still thriving today. Sanders developed an unusually wide-rimmed mouthpiece that is currently being replicated by MooseWood in Arizona.
Johnny Pherigo taught horn at WMU from 1983-2004, where he was also Coordinator of Graduate Studies
in Music and Director of the MFA in Performing Arts Administration. He moved to Orlando, Florida in 2004 to accept a position as Director of the School of Music at the University of Central Florida. He currently teaches horn and other classes at UCF. Pherigo is Past-President of the International Horn Society and has served as Editor of the Horn Call, Journal of the International Horn Society. He hosted the 33rd International Horn Symposium in 2001 at WMU. Pherigo is active as a recitalist and clinician on both valve horn and natural horn, performing at universities and workshops nationally and internationally. He has served as Associate Principal Horn of the United States Air Force Band and Principal Horn of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from Texas Tech University, a Master of Music degree from Catholic University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois.