John Hillebrandt, Staff Accompanist and Lecturer at California State University, Stanislaus since 1996, is also the Principal Keyboardist for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. His numerous and highly acclaimed performances each season include solo recitals, chamber music, concertos, and original compositions. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. degree in music from the University of Central Florida, and M.M. and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees in piano performance from the University of Michigan. He has received numerous honors as both a pianist and composer, including first prize in the Florida West Coast Chopin Piano Competition and first prize in the American Matthay Association's Clara Wells Memorial Piano Competition. As a doctoral student he received a dissertation grant for the composition and performance of microtonal piano music, and won the University of Michigan's concerto competition for which he composed and performed his First Piano Concerto. The Modesto Symphony Orchestra commissioned and performed his Fantasia on French Carols for choir and orchestra during their 1999-2000 season.
In concerts presented by the California Composer's Consortium, Dr. Hillebrandt performs original works around the Central Valley and in San Francisco. In October 2005, he was the featured pianist of the Sonora Bach Festival, performing Bach's Fifteen Sinfonias and the world premier of the Hillebrandt "Transcendental Hymn-Fantasies, volume 2." Other recent performances have included Carnival of the Animals and Petrouchka with the MSO; Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with the Stanislaus Symphony; and Miklos Rosza's Spellbound Concerto with the MSO in 1999. As accompanist for the CSUS Concert Chorale, Dr. Hillebrandt has performed throughout Italy and France as both pianist and organist. He also traveled to South Korea in 2000 for a recital and masterclasses. He has taught many award-winning students, and spent two summers teaching at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.
Brenda Newell, Lecturer in the Department of Music teaches Class Piano at CSU Stanislaus and has also taught Piano Pedagogy, Keyboard Harmony for piano majors, Music Fundamentals, and Music for the Classroom Teacher. She performs as soloist, duo-pianist, and collaborative pianist on faculty recitals. Recent performances include Messiaen’s Visions de la Amen, Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals, Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos and Strings, and Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. She has performed orchestral keyboards with the Modesto Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic, and Stanislaus Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Newell is active in the Music Teachers Association of California, presently coordinating the MTAC Stanislaus Branch Baroque Festival, and frequently serves as an adjudicator and clinician of workshops and masterclasses. Recently she was a discussion leader at the National Group Piano Pedagogy Forum in Cincinnati. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in piano performance at the University of Central Florida, and her Masters of Music degree in piano pedagogy at the University of South Carolina, where she studied with internationally known piano pedagogue Dr. Max Camp.