Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Brett Hodge often went on school trips to the St. Louis Symphony Kids Concerts and went with his parents, who were band directors, to concerts in the evenings and on the weekends. Destined to be a musician from birth, Hodge started on piano when he was seven and loved playing and practicing. When it was time to start playing in band in fifth grade, his parents thought playing the horn would be a good idea, so he thought it would be worth a try.
He played in band and continued to play piano through grade school, but it wasn’t until high school that the horn became a serious thing. Hodge began to audition for all-district and all-state bands and never came up shorthanded at the auditions. His band director father always pushed him to go out there and audition for other things that weren’t necessarily related to school. His next set of auditions for the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra would bring him into the world of orchestral music. He made it into both groups and unbeknownst to him, he would dive even further into the music world. With the guidance of his teachers and parents, he decided to major in music in college.
Hodge went on to be a music education and performance major at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance and to study with Ellen Campbell. At the Conservatory, Hodge played in everything possible, including bands, orchestras, wind quintets, brass quintets, and quite a few other ensembles that don’t have names yet…
After one short year, he decided that music education wasn’t right for him and ended up becoming a performance major. At the end of this first year, Brett was one of two first place winners in the Kansas City Symphony Young Artist Competition and had the honor of performing the Gordon Jacob Concerto under the baton of Michael Stern on a contributor’s concert at the end of the orchestra’s season for a full house of donors and other supporters of the symphony.
A few short weeks before school started, he got the news that his teacher had passed away suddenly. Deeply saddened by this, Hodge didn’t stop going on with his career and kept along with the advice that Ellen had given him. After a year with a few interim teachers and a job search, the summer called for Hodge to attend Music Academy of the West where he met and studied with the unforgettable Julie Landsman.
Returning to school meant having a new teacher, and this new teacher wasn’t just anyone, but it was Martin Hackleman. Through the next two years Hackleman helped guide Hodge through the challenges of auditions and solo work. With Hackleman’s help, Hodge ended up with awards including the Yamaha Young Artist Competition and won his first audition as third horn with Orchestra Iowa of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While in Kansas City, he was the soloist in residence with the Midwest Chamber Ensemble, performing new and solo works with the group. He was a participant with the Banff Centre’s Orchestral Session and performed with the All-Star Brass on a few recording sessions and got to witness some of the finest brass playing ever.
Towards the end of his last year of school, Hodge won the Principal Horn position with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, where he currently resides and plays with the orchestra and the Resident Wind Quintet, The Dakota Winds.