Michael Hernon (born 1940) spent much of his life (38 years) at the University of Tennessee Martin, loved working with the students, and would have never retired except for health issues. He was able to play in regional orchestras (Jackson TN and Paducah KY), teach horn students, direct a horn choir, and teach music history, which was a satisfying life. He considers his fine professional career to be capped by the Punto Award − a surprise, shock, and joy. He had no idea that he was to receive the award until his name was called from the stage, but several former students were with him, which made the moment especially satisfying.
Michael studied at Murray State University in Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, and Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University). He completed his PhD in 1972. Ed Pease, a hornist and musicologist at Western Kentucky who had studied with Willi Apel at Indiana University, inspired Michael in both horn playing and musicology. Michael took great pleasure in teaching music history and published a discography, French Horn Discography, published by Greenwood Press.
Michael particularly enjoyed directing a horn choir of his students, former students, members of the Jackson Symphony, and amateurs. They performed a concert, with up to 12 players, at the end of every semester. Former students include Mary Bisson (who brought Barry Tuckwell to visit) and Dan Spencer, who earned a PhD at the University of Iowa.
Michael retired in 2011 because of his health. He had not been playing since but at the time of receiving the award, at the 2013 IHS Symposium in Memphis, he planned to start again, only for himself since his sense of balance had been affected.