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CWU Music Celebrates Banner Year

International competitions and performances. Award-winning faculty, students, and alumni. Collaborations with renowned composers and musicians. It has been a banner year for the Central Washington University Department of Music, indeed.

“It has been a tremendous year for our department,“ said Todd Shiver, department chair. “I have been collecting good news items throughout the year; the list is quite extensive and impressive. When I see this list, it makes me thankful to be here at CWU and to be a part of this incredible music department.”

Some of the highlights of this past year include:

Chris Bruya and Jazz Band 1 performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival last September, and Gary Weidenaar and the Chamber Choir’s tour of Spain for the prestigious Tolosa Competition. The tour culminated in an unforgettable performance in León, in the magnificent Santa María de León Cathedral, also called The House of Light—“I feel like we serve as musical ambassadors representing the Northwest nationally and internationally,” Shiver reflected.

Venerable organizations such as the American Choral Directors Association and the Washington Music Educators Association extended coveted invitations to many CWU music ensembles throughout the year. Many other ensembles performed and competed successfully throughout the United States as well.

Individual students were standouts as well. For example, Aaron Hirsch, a graduate student in Orchestral Conducting, was invited to participate the Dresdener Meisterkurse Musik 2015 to study many facets of conducting under Professor Ekkehard Klemm of the Dresden Musikhochschule Carl Marie von Weber. Hirsch’s tenure in Germany culminated in his leading the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of Dresden in a full concert performance. Alex Worland won the Washington State Music Teachers Association Northwest Division in Composition for his Prelude for piano.  He is a finalist and will now move on to the National Division. Violinist Peter Miliczky, a 2013 graduate of CWU in violin performance, has merited a position with the Portland Opera.

As usual, CWU swept the regional National Association of Teachers of Singing, with 14 winners in the top three in 12 total categories.

The newly minted bachelor’s degree students are entering prestigious graduate schools such as the Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, and Boston University. They are also performing in elite groups such as the Marine Corps Band, and beginning careers as band directors and music teachers all over the country.

The music faculty also reaped honors for their dedication, talent, and scholarship. Bruya, director of Jazz Studies, was selected as the WMEA Higher Education Music Educator of the Year. The Washington chapter of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) honored Nikolas Caoile, director of Orchestras, for outstanding “Achievement in Orchestral Direction.” Adam Pelandini, professor of Saxophone, was invited to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra this August at the Tanglewood Music Center. Daniel Lipori, professor of Bassoon and Music History, gave two performances at the annual convention of the International Double Reed Society in Tokyo, Japan, last August. Mark Goodenberger, professor of Percussion Studies, has had five of his compositions published by Marimba Productions. Joseph Brooks, professor of Clarinet and Saxophone, has a publisher in Bristol, England seriously considering two of his works. And the department chair, Todd Shiver received the Presidential Faculty Award during the Evening of Recognition event sponsored by the CWU Center for Leadership and Community Engagement.

“It’s almost an embarrassment of riches,” concluded Shiver. “We are grateful that so much talent has gravitated here. It’s truly an honor to be part of this incredible department.”

CWU’s Department of Music is one of the largest departments at the university, with more than 300 music majors. The department offers a wide variety of degrees including bachelor’s degrees in music performance, music education, composition, music and jazz. Graduate degrees include a master’s degree in music for in-depth study in an area of specialization, and the new on-line master of music in music education. For more information, go to

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,

June 6, 2016

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