VIDEO: 82-year-old SFSU Wind Ensemble member shares his wisdom

Born during the Depression, Hank Niebolt has been dedicated to music since before the current SF State campus opened its doors.

After graduating in the mid-50s, Niebolt began a career in teaching elementary school in South San Francisco, but always kept close to music.

Now 82 years old and retired, he is a member of multiple musical groups all over the Bay Area, including the SFSU Wind Ensemble and Golden Gate Park Band.

As a member of the SFSU Wind Ensemble, he gives valuable knowledge and experience said Martin Seggelke, associate professor and director of the ensemble.

“He was instrumental in the creation of the alumni band last year,” Seggelke said. “We looked up at old programs he’s kept over the years and contacted as many people as we could.”

Now looking to the future of music, Niebolt has passed on some of his own instruments to promising members of the ensemble.

Charles Barrett received Niebolt’s tuba near the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester, and will be leading a tuba concerto May 8.

“It’s definitely great having someone with that much experience around,” said Barrett. “He’s very passionate about music.”

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  • Gil–Thank you for taking time to profile my father! Your interviews really captured him…”It is all about the music”—that is my Dad indeed.

    When I was a child, I would tag along with Dad to the many gigs he played: The Ringling Bros. Circus at the Cow Palace, the Ice Follies, The Grand National Rodeo, and so many other musician jobs that have now gone away due to taped shows…he also was the substitute for tuba players at the SF Opera, Ballet, etc. I was a lucky kid to be exposed to so much music so early in life—though I did not receive my father’s musical talent, he did pass along a deep appreciation for many types of music–even the Om-Pah Polka music from the many Oktoberfests he performed in…not to mention the many Chinese Funeral processions in Chinatown he performed in.

    –Again, thanks for the great piece!

    Roger Niebolt
    Thousand Oaks, CA

  • Gil, I echo Roger’s appreciaton of the great piece you did on Pops! I would only add that he’s also a voracious reader of composer/conductor biographies (the great Toscanini being one of them) and histories of the great symphonies, orchestras and bands. Walking around his house, you would not find these just residing in one central bookcase – but on many tabletops, desks and counters – always being rotated out with new ones that he acquires :). Dad is a true-believer in the power of music in people’s lives and heartily encourages all who take an interest in it. On the non-musical side, Dad sees the positive in everything and lives his life as such. We his sons have benefited (and continue to benefit) from his unique life perspective and cheer him on for next musical opportunity coming his way!

  • I had the privilege of meeting Hank, sharing a meal with him and then following him over to the campus to hear him practice. He fit in just like he was one of the students many years ago. It was a pleasure to meet ” Pops”, a man who is still so passionate about music, and willingly shares his life’s experiences. Encore Pops!