Nicholas Hidy

Porter '21, music

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Nicholas Hidy (Porter '21, music)

It’s tough being a performing arts major when all the performing arts spaces are shut down. 

That’s the predicament in which Nick Hidy found himself in early 2020. Hidy plays the French horn and trombone, and was a key member of several UCSC Music Department ensembles. 

All his work depended on being on stage with an audience. 

“COVID wiped that out in totality. Adapting was extremely difficult,” Hidy said. 

But, as they say, out of adversity comes innovation, and that’s what happened, “especially at UC Santa Cruz,” says Hidy, 20, who will graduate with a bachelor of music degree in music performance and is headed to the University of Washington for at least a master's degree in music performance. 

“Santa Cruz has been a great springboard to graduate school,” he said.

Hidy misses performing live but noted that he and other students were able to create new musical projects that could only be possible in a virtual setting

The Music Department considers him a great resource because of his knowledge and assistance in making remote recordings for online performance presentations. 

For his senior recital project, he created a video collage of himself playing across campus using his phone and “a cheap tripod.” 

“It was a lot of fun," Hidy said. "I wanted to include the campus not only because it’s pretty but to bring people closer to the campus because everyone has been away.”

Hidy said the campus’s beauty is what drew him to UC Santa Cruz. He grew up in Sebastopol where his dad is a bamboo fly rod maker and his mom a nurse. He was inspired to play the horn by his brother, a trumpet player. 

He took up the French horn in sixth grade “because it looked cool.” He really wanted to play the alto sax, too, but the school didn’t have one. The teacher said he could play trombone, so he did. 

What really propelled him to music was a summer jazz camp where he learned to improvise. 

He played in the county symphony and all the bands his high school offered. Looking toward college he chose UCSC even though it’s not known as a music conservatory. 

“I think a smaller department allows individual students to have a more focused experience,” Hidy said. “I enjoyed the small scale.” 

Hidy will graduate after just three years at UCSC. 

“It’s a little bittersweet for me,” he said. “Just about half of my education has been online.”

Speaking of bittersweet, Hidy is also a recipe developer at a Santa Cruz chocolate maker. 

“Food and music hit the same synapses in anyone’s brain,” he said. “When you taste food there’s a level of harmony of flavors. Food and harmony are pretty much the same thing.”