Gunnar Owen Hirthe

Musician, Clarinetist, Educator

Gunnar Owen Hirthe hails from Green Bay, Wisconsin and is currently a doctoral candidate studying new music for clarinet at Bowling Green State University's Doctoral Program in Contemporary Music under the mentorship of Mr. Kevin W. Schempf.  This distinguished program is focused on the artistic specialization of music from the 20th and 21st centuries from traditional to experimental and avant-garde to electronic. He is currently working on his dissertation titled Identity in the Clarinet Music of Michael Finnissy and Evan Ziporyn. This research aims to bring further understanding to the world of music inspired by cultures other than what we experience in the Western art music tradition and what these intersections mean to these composers, the performer and their audiences.

Gunnar has had the privilege to perform with professional chamber, wind, orchestral and faculty ensembles in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana; with Arlo Guthrie at Carnegie Hall in New York; and for contemporary classical composers such as David Maslanka, David Lang, Steven Stucky, Sean Shepherd, Nils Vigelund, Michael Quell, Kieran McMillan, Amy Williams, Roger Zahab, Mikel Kuehn, John McCowen, Hong-Da Chin and Dai Fujikura.  He was a soloist with the Green Bay Youth Symphony, The Ohio State University Symphony Orchestra in Columbus, OH, the Suburban Symphony Orchestra in Cleveland, OH, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and has recently been appointed solo clarinetist with the No Exit New Music Ensemble in Cleveland, OH.

Gunnar currently holds the position of Clarinet Faculty at the Flint Institute of Music. He has taught individuals from beginners to retirees and music students from elementary to college.  During his time at the Cleveland Institute of Music, he performed and taught individual and group lessons via high-definition internet connection to various venues throughout the United States as part of their nationally recognized Distance Learning Program.  While at The Ohio State and Bowling Green State Universities, Gunnar was a teaching assistant for the clarinet studios, teaching applied clarinet to music majors and non-majors of all levels and coaching woodwind chamber music ensembles. His current assignment is teaching Exploring Music: A Social Experience where the focus centers on connecting non-musicians with the sounds and music they encounter everyday and providing a perspective to understand music in a social context both historically and currently.

Gunnar has earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Music Education and Performance from the University of Kentucky with Dr. Scott J. Wright; a Master’s Degree in Music Performance from The Ohio State University with Mr. James M. Pyne; and has a Professional Studies Diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with world-renowned clarinetist and former Principal Clarinet of the Cleveland Orchestra, Mr. Franklin Cohen. 

Photographer: Michiko Saiki