Head of Mesa State music program Calvin Hofer loves to combine his passions

Calvin Hofer conducts the Mesa State College wind symphony class in the rehearsal room of the Moss Performing Arts Center. Hofer is the head of Mesa State’s music department.

One of many expressive faces of Calvin Hofer.


On June 19, Calvin Hofer, head of Mesa State College’s music department, will hop on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and ride south to Albuquerque, N.M., where he will referee a soccer tournament.

The trip will combine three of Hofer’s passions: music, motorcycles and soccer refereeing.

But before he gets to his final destination, he has a special stop planned in Abiquiu, N.M.

There he intends to indulge his cultural senses by taking in the beauty of the northern New Mexico town, reading a poem by Mesa State’s Luis Lopez and listening to a performance of “Abiquiu” by David Gillingham.

Gillingham was commissioned to write the piece for Mesa State’s 2009 Best of the West Music Festival. The annual festival’s first year was in 2000, shortly after Hofer began teaching and conducting at Mesa State.

It’s one of the many tools Hofer has to recruit students to Mesa State’s music program. “The quality of students coming here now has greatly improved in the last five or six years,” Hofer said.

The majority of students are from western Colorado, but recruiting trips to the Front Range are drawing students from larger schools.

“They think Colorado stops at Vail,” Hofer said of students on the Front Range. But, “once they come over and visit, it pretty much sells itself.”

The recruiting trips give Hofer a chance to indulge in his passions. He’ll ride his Harley to Denver to ref a few games, and while he’s there visit a few high schools.

Sometimes his wife, Margaret, takes day trips with Hofer on his Harley. While he enjoys these rides, he especially likes going on longer journeys.

“It depends on my wife, how long she’ll let me go.”

The pair met on the marching band field at South Dakota State University. He is a trumpeter, and she a flutist.

Calvin was passing out fliers when he handed one to Margaret and she asked if his number was on it. It wasn’t, but he didn’t hesitate to add it to the sheet.

His sometimes quirky style and life passions aren’t lost on his students.

“He is amazing; his emotion is incomparable,” said Sarah Strong, a music performance major from Parachute. “He wears his heart on his sleeve every day.”

Hofer’s commitment to his students reaches far beyond the classroom. Strong said he has helped students get jobs, searched for loans, and is on the phone checking on them when they’re feeling ill.

“We go home at the end of the day thinking about each other,” the section leader said while cleaning her flute at the end of wind ensemble practice.

Hofer said it’s just part of the job. “That’s the advantage of a smaller college. Professors are going to take care of their students.”

Hofer’s voice boomed over the 45 musicians in the wind ensemble during rehearsal in late February, “C’mon find the groove.”

The group was to perform at the Mesa State men’s basketball game and the conductor let the students know just how important it is to get the team back on a winning streak.

Strong said even Hofer’s passion for soccer can be felt in the music room.

“He definitely makes playing symphony a sport ... He has a good mix of sport and art.”


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