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NMSU welcomes new director of bands, interim associate director of bands

Two new members of New Mexico State University's music department in the College of Arts and Sciences say they feel quite at home at the university.

Head and shoulders of a man
Christopher Hughes will serve as New Mexico State University's director of bands. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)
Head and shoulders of a woman
Barbara Lambrecht will serve as New Mexico State University's interim associate director of bands and will work with NMSU's Aggie Pride Band. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Christopher Hughes, NMSU's new director of bands, comes to Las Cruces from Thailand, where he served as director of bands and chair of the conducting and ensembles faculty for the College of Music at Mahidol University, a conservatory setting in Bankok. As NMSU's director of bands, he will conduct the top ensemble band, do all of the graduate conducting and will head up the music education offerings. He also will serve on committees for undergraduate students. Hughes said he liked what he saw when he visited the campus in April.

"I looked out at Las Cruces and felt like it could be home," said Hughes. "I was very keen to the energy and the culture."

Barbara Lambrecht, incoming interim associate director of bands, comes to NMSU with 45 years experience teaching band to students of all ages from university level to elementary school. In her position Lambrecht will work with music education and athletic bands, focusing her attention on the Aggie Pride Band.

"It really has been a dream of mine to teach at this university," Lambrecht said. "I have always liked the feel of this university, the camaraderie of the music faculty, and they've really made me feel welcome."

Hughes, who received a doctor of musical arts degree at the University of Colorado in 2005, has developed an impressive international profile, conducting ensembles in concert on four continents including Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. Hughes has big plans for the NMSU program.

"My vision is to create a comprehensive Division I university band program like USC, Michigan, North Texas or Texas - these big schools that have wonderful band programs," Hughes said. "The thing about that comprehensive nature means we have a place for everyone. The idea is we have the full gamut from recreational musicians to people who want to dedicate their lives to the performance of music and everything in between."

While at Mahidol University, Hughes was music director and conductor of the Mahidol Wind Symphony, Chamber Winds, and Symphony Orchestra while guiding the graduate programs in instrumental conducting. In addition to his university responsibilities, Hughes served as resident guest conductor for the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra. Prior to his move to Thailand, Hughes held positions on the faculties at Lander University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Lambrecht served as marching band director and later director of bands at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She spent a number of years at Onate High School in Las Cruces, transforming the band into State Concert Band champions. During her tenure, Onate was named Honor Band of New Mexico. At 68, Lambrecht hopes to inspire her students by example.

"Do the things you love, and do the things you love with passion," Lambrecht said. "I'm hoping they see that passion in this old woman and they can say 'when I get to be that old I hope I am still excited about what I'm doing.' When I'm 90, I hope I'm still that passionate about music and kids and teaching."

Her passion is not limited to music. When she turned 60, Lambrecht celebrated by bicycling 60 miles. For her 70th birthday, she plans to walk 70 miles along the Katy Trail in Missouri.