As a self-proclaimed groupie of The Pitchforks, I couldn’t hide my excitement as I sat in Von der Heyden awaiting the arrival of Hunter Treacy. This charming redhead, who has been captivating audiences over the past four years with his stunning rendition of Black Balloon, is quite the recognizable guy on campus. President of The Pitchforks, as well as President of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity during his time at Duke, Hunter is certainly deserving of the Campus Celebrity title.
Hailing from Boston, Hunter was ready for college after spending four years at Groton School, where he was a full-time boarder. Recalling how this co-ed establishment was a “very good experience” as it made him a “better and more productive person,” he also mentioned that the strict rules and 6-day week resulted in an underwhelming social experience. What better way to correct this than heading to Duke for college? Having seen his older brother (‘06) have a very positive experience in the dirty D, he decided to follow suit. Hunter did admit, though, that he had initially hoped to go to Harvard, who “strung him along” on the waitlist until July of that year. But after four successful years at Duke, he can confidently say that he is “happy that acceptance letter never came.”
Hunter set two goals for himself at the start of his first year: exceed academically and have the greatest possible social experience. A Philosophy major, with minors in English and Economics, Hunter has achieved the former without neglecting the latter; his talents extend far beyond the classroom. It was one memorable night outside the Marketplace during O-Week, when The Pitchforks approached Hunter to ask if he could sing, that his voice was given the chance to shine. Because he had only sang privately while playing the piano in high school, he had never considered joining an a cappella group. So, first-year Hunter nonchalantly responded “yeah” and continued walking. It’s just as well a few Pitchforks followed after him; before he knew it, he signed up for an audition, and has never looked back since.
The Pitchforks, an all-male a cappella group founded in 1979 by a group of mainly medical students, has played a profound role in Hunter’s Duke career. Constantly rehearsing, planning fantastic shows and producing CDs, being President of this student-run organization for two consecutive years has undoubtedly been a “huge time commitment.” He recognizes that it has certainly been worthwhile and acknowledges that his “memories of Duke 10 years from now will be about The Pitchforks.” When asked what his favorite songs are, he responded ‘Black & Gold’ and ‘Home’, though I must add that my personal favorite is his solo of ‘Black Balloon’. Hunter also spoke highly of Dr. Benjamin Ward, a man who has sung with the group for over 30 years since he was a young faculty member. I was fascinated to learn that Dr. Ward speaks 8 languages and even played the organ at Martin Luther King’s funeral!
When asked how The Pitchforks has developed over Hunter’s four years at Duke, he explained, “It has improved in many regards while maintaining and expanding upon a high level of singing quality.” One of Hunter’s main goals was to build a large fan base. Taking the words right out of my mouth, he laughed, and exclaimed, “A big part of this fan base comes from Shooters and Devines.” It came as no surprise to learn that at least a few girls approach Hunter each night, which he finds “very flattering,” but modestly added, “I think it’s mainly because of the red hair.”
Aside from lighting up the stage with his dulcet tones, Hunter has consistently played a large role in his fraternity. Having left high school with the intention of pursuing a busy social life, he “always knew” he would go Greek. Though his brother was also a Delta-Sig, Hunter is adamant that he went through recruitment with a “very open mind,” but fate led him to the same chapter. As Treasurer his sophomore year, he decided to not go abroad as he “saw the opportunity to lead Delta Sig, as well as the Pitchforks.” Hunter is clearly passionate about his fraternity brothers, and he believes his “pledge class was incredible.” Was? Is? I reminded Hunter that he still has a few precious weeks left before graduation, so he really should revel in the present tense whilst he can.
Juggling the rigorous demands of being President of two huge organizations like The Pitchforks and Delta Sigma Phi has not been an easy task, and Hunter readily admits that his “junior year was crazy.” Expanding further on this, his greatest concern that year was “prioritizing the two groups, if and when that became an issue.” “I care deeply about both of them,” he continued, “so I didn’t want to put off one in favor of the other.” In order to ensure that this never happened, I was astounded to learn that he dedicated approximately 25 hours on the Pitchforks and 30 hours on his fraternity, each week. Hunter must have read my mind again, for he soon added: “It was a full time job and, admittedly, I devoted far less time on academics.” Nevertheless, he has “became a more intelligent leader” as a result of the two presidencies, and “the combination taught [him] the importance of understanding what and how people are thinking, and what motivates them,” which are invaluable lessons that aren’t learned within the boundaries of a lecture hall. Most importantly, Hunter formed his best friends in Delta Sig and The Pitchforks, and although they are “two very different components of life at Duke, they complement each other and suit [him] very well.”
After hearing that Hunter receives up to 500 emails everyday, I will never again complain about my own full inbox. He has essentially become a “chronic e-mailer” and tries to respond to each email within 5 minutes. In an attempt to relinquish that, if only temporarily, Hunter is travelling around South East Asia after graduation, with no phone – just a few of his fraternity brothers and a 12-pound backpack. When he surfaces again in the United States, he will be heading to NYC. His organized and methodical way of conducting life would certainly bode well in the business world, but Hunter has other ideas in mind, that will allow him to “contribute something unique to the world” and give him a greater sense of freedom. He shared, “When I sit down and think about my ideal life, it is as a writer.” He refused to reveal too much about his first project, though, as he claims “every writer’s first mistake is talking about a story before it’s down on paper.” Finally, when asked if he will continue singing after Duke, Hunter responded that while he knows he would never pursue it as a formal career, he wants to keep singing in some form; “It balances me, and a sense of balance is very important.”
Hunter is a wonderful example of a Duke student who has had four fulfilling years at college, and is now ready to take on the “real world”. As conversation moved back to graduation, Hunter admits that you won’t find him “oozing nostalgia” as much as his peers. This is not because of any negative feelings he has towards Duke, but rather “as much fun as shot-gunning beers 4 nights a week is, there’s a time and place for everything.” I found this to be quite an insightful and mature observation. I was also left reflecting on why he chose not to do a 5th year to complete a double major.
“At the end of the day, that little blurb on your resume doesn’t count for much.
-- I want to lead a life where my resume is insignificant.”
Watch this space.
The Pitchforks present ‘Sing ‘Tll You Puke’
Sunday April 29th, Blackwell Arch
“We sing every song we know (30+) until somebody pukes”
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