The internationally acclaimed pianist and avid outdoorsman Barry Hannigan is
closing out his career at Bucknell. Hannigan, the Ellen P. Williams Professor of
Music, has performed more than 100 concerts for the University community and
will oΩer a series of farewell recitals this spring.
Q:You’ll be retiring at the end of this academic year, after 38
years at Bucknell.
A:I think I’m number two on the list of having been at Bucknell the
longest. I was just a kid when I got my
job. I was only 27.
Q:But you’re not going to be kicking back your final semester.
You’ll be hard at work in the concert
hall. Can you give us a sneak peak at
what’s in store as you bring a lifetime
of performing to a close?
A:I’ll play Feb. 21 and 24 with the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, who
are coming from England. When I first
got to Bucknell in 1978, I played with
them. That’s just amazing, to be able to
have that bookend to my career. We’re
probably playing Brahms’ Quintet and
maybe some Schubert. The final concert
is on April 2 with my wife, Mary, a flutist,
who’s been playing at Bucknell all those
Q:You’re a native Coloradan, and you and Mary have spent every
summer for the last 37 years in the
mountains, on family land. You’ll be
retiring to Colorado, and you’re an avid
fly fisher, hiker, biker and runner. Can you
talk a little bit about the source of what
you call your “mania for outdoor life”?
A:It includes windsurfing, rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking
and a few other things. It has to do with
balance. When school is in session and
I’m traveling to perform, I have no free
time. To be in top form, I need to practice
three to five hours a day and rearrange
my teaching schedule to accommodate
days away from campus. The stress can
be enormous. So the few exercise and
outdoor activities I’m able to fit in are
what keep me sane. When summer
comes, it’s wonderful to have the teeter
totter go down the other direction and
do things that restore some kind of
balance and get my body strong again.
I still practice every day, but large
blocks of time are available to go for
long bike rides or hikes.
Q:Has your desire to lead an active outdoor life influenced
your decision to retire now?
A:Yes. There’s a clock ticking, and we’ve wanted to do some big
things for a long time — ride our bikes
across the country, complete the Tour
du Mont Blanc, hike the Inca Trail, raft
the Grand Canyon. You don’t see many
80-year-olds doing that. We want to see
how much we can do before we take
up bridge and professional crossword-puzzle making.
Q:Are you taking a favorite keyboard with you when you
move to Colorado?
A:I have a Steinway B, which is a 7-foot concert piano. It’s been
with me for 35 years, so it’s like my
child. I love it. It’s going with me.
By Sherri Kimmel
Professor Barry Hannigan, music