Romanian born violinist Cristian Neacsu is Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music at Walla Walla University. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of Illinois, a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Music from Andrews University.
Previously Neacsu served as Assistant Professor and Orchestra Director at Burman University in Canada from 2013-2018. As Orchestra Director, Neacsu strived to refine the ensemble and challenge the musicians with a variety of repertoire from the baroque to contemporary eras. During his tenure the orchestra presented numerous local performances and Canadian tours that also featured renowned guest soloists.Neacsu increased the number of concerts and he established the Burman Virtuosi, a strings chamber orchestra comprised of selected players from the larger orchestra. In 2017 the Burman Virtuosi performed at the Music Conference Alberta along with other celebrated ensembles resident in the province.
During his tenure at Burman University, Neacsu joined the Alberta String Association and served as Vice-President and subsequently as President. In this role, he participated in numerous projects to benefit string professionals and string students within the Province of Alberta. He also established the ASA Concerto Competition and invited internationally renowned artists to lead master classes and workshops. Neacsu’s involvement in adjudications, included the Strings Division at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada, and several local concerto competitions and festivals.
Violinist Neacsu has frequently collaborated with prominent artists such as Stefan Milenkovich, Piotr Milewsky, Herbert Bloomsted, Sherban Lupu, Berick Yehonatan, Carla Trenchyuk, Kurt Sassmannshaus,Guillaume Tardif, Claudio Gonzalez, among others plus renowned groups such as Jupiter Quartet and Pacifica Quartet. He frequently appears in solo recitals and concerts with orchestra as well as in chamber music performances. Some of his solo performances have included major concertos by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Sibelius and Wieniawski, plus many other works from a wide range of genres and styles.
During his graduate studies for the Mater’s degree at University of Cincinnati, he added a minor in Orchestral Conducting under the tutelage of Mark Gibson and Annunziata Tomaro. During this time he also held the Assistant Concertmaster position for the Philarmonia Orchestra.
While engaged in his graduate doctoral studies at University of Illinois, Neacsu was awarded a position as a Teaching Assistant. For three consecutive years he taught violin lessons to undergraduate and graduate majors, non-major violin students and assisted in the orchestral conducting class. His collaborations included performances with renowned Faculty at the Krannert Center and the Allerton Festival. Additionally, as a member of the New Music Ensemble, he frequently performed an extensive amount of music by established contemporary composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina, Augusta Read Thomas and Charles Wuorinen, among others. And given his interest in Performance Practice for Early Music, he studied it as a minor and performed on the baroque violin for the Early Music Concerts. Also during the time of his doctoral studies at the Universiy of Illinois, he served as Choir Director at First Presbyterian Church in Monticello, Illinois.
Cristian Neacsu is married to Qian Yin Neacsu, a professional and gifted pianist and violinist. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois.
Brandon Beck, M.M.
Brass instruments, Wind Symphony, Steel Band, Symphony Orchestra
Brandon Beck is director of the band and wind instrument program at Walla Walla University, a position he has held since 2000. In his position as associate professor of music, he teaches conducting, methods classes, private instruction in low brass instruments, and also directs the Wind Symphony, Steel Band, Brass Ensembles, and as of 2009, the Symphony Orchestra.
Beck has taught since 1981, teaching at three academies before joining the faculty at Southern Adventist University for three years from 1997-2000. While at Auburn Adventist Academy (AAA) in Auburn, Washington, his last academy position, he received the 1995 Lowe Teaching Award as teacher of the year, an award voted by the school’s faculty and students, and was listed in Who’s Who Among American Teachers in 1992 and 1996. His ensembles at AAA received numerous awards and distinctions, including invitational performances at the 1987 Western International Band Clinic, the 1990 General Conference Session in Indianapolis, and the 1993 annual meeting of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.
His band at AAA consistently received superior ratings in contests run by the local Pierce County League of Music Educators, achieving the highest score for bands four out of the five times they participated. It also won the Small Schools Division of the Lewis and Clark College 1996 Northwest Invitational Band Contest.
Beck has served as a band clinician for high school and elementary band clinics or honor bands in Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington. Most recently he directed the Oregon Music Educators Association’s District 6 Honor Band at Pendleton High School in the fall of 2009, and will be directing the Walla Walla University Invitational Honor Band in January of 2011.
Beck completed a Bachelor of Music degree in music education at Walla Walla College (now University), serving as assistant college band director during his senior year. A bass trombonist, he studied with Lloyd Leno at Walla Walla College and with Paul Bauer, Leon Brown, and Royce Lumpkin at the University of North Texas, where he did additional undergraduate study. He completed a master’s degree at Vandercook College of Music in 1988 where he continued his bass trombone studies with Roger Rocco.
Guitar, Introduction to Music, History of Music, World Music
Albert R. Diaz is an Assistant Professor of Music at Walla Walla University, where he teaches music history courses for majors and non-majors, as well as classical guitar. He holds a BM and MM in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California and an MA in Musicology from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is a doctoral candidate completing his Musicology PhD. His research looks at drone music along the Pacific coast of the US in the late 20th century and considers American coastal identity, and musical practice.
Recent performances include engagements with the American Guitar Society, the Guitar Foundation of America, and MICRO FEST. Albert placed as a finalist and top prizewinner in the 2007 and 2008 ASTA/Aron Green Classical Guitar Competition, the 2008 Pacific Northwest Guitar Festival, and the 2010 and 2012 Pacific Guitar Festival. In 2011 Albert received a Presser Award to fund a tour and recording for his ensemble, the Helios Guitar Quartet. In July 2013 the Helios Guitar Quartet released their recording of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (BWV 846-869), available below. Albert’s criticism and musicology publications can be found in Soundboard (the official quarterly journal of the Guitar Foundation of America) and Cambridge Scholars Publishing; he has forthcoming engagements with Bloomsbury Academic.
Listen to the Helios Guitar Quartet’s recording of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (BWV 846-869):
Jinhyang Park, D.M.A.
Piano, Ear Training I, Music Theory II
Pianist Jinhyang Park performs actively as a soloist and collaborative artist. She was the first place winner of the Seoul National Symphony Soloist Competition, third prize winner in the Young Artist Competition (South Korea) and received a Special Encouragement Award at the Poulenc Competition in New York. Ms. Park has also performed as piano soloist with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Ms. Park has enjoyed collaborating with internationally acclaimed artists such as Yosep Kang (Deutsche Opera Berlin), Sung-Kyu Park, and So Young Park. She has also concertized throughout the United States, South Korea, and Japan with violinist Joo Young Oh (New York Philharmonic), and has performed extensively with cellist Robert Mayes (President of the Boston Cello Society).
Ms. Park pursued studies in piano performance at Sahmyook University, the Boston Conservatory, and University of South Florida, as well as collaborative piano at New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Cameron Stowe and Jonathan Feldman. She recently completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Boston University in the studio of Shiela Kibbe. Prior to her arrival in College Place, Jinhyang Park held staff pianist positions at the New England Conservatory and Boston Conservatory. Ms. Park joined the faculty of Walla Walla University in 2016.
Lyn Ritz is currently professor of music at Walla Walla University where she teaches violin, viola, chamber music, aural skills, and music theory. She formerly taught at the University of Dayton from 1995-2003, where she also taught upper strings, was coordinator of the aural skills curriculum, and was a member of the Marian Duo. Lyn holds a D.M.A. in violin from the University of Kentucky where she studied with Daniel Mason, was the winner of the 1989 Concerto Competition at the University of Kentucky, and also a member of the Niles String Quartet for five years. Previous teaching positions include the University of Texas Pan-American in Edinburg, Texas, where she was also concertmaster of the Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, where she was a member of the Bresquin Trio.
Additional teaching experience includes public school music as well as extensive private teaching. Among other workshops, she has participated in the Nova Scotia Music Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1992, and the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School, Blue Hill, Maine, in 1989. Lyn's orchestral experience has included membership in the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Putnam Symphony Orchestra (NY), Ridgefield Symphony (CT), and the Lexington Philharmonic (KY). She has authored A Compendium of Left Hand Fingerings for Violin and Viola,three sacred songs for voice and piano, Duo for Violin and Viola, and several hymn arrangements for violin and piano. Lyn is currently serving as concertmaster of the Walla Walla Symphony and is an active solo and chamber music performer.
A native of British Columbia, Kraig Scott has made recital appearances throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East in venues such as Dunblane Cathedral (Scotland), Kirkpatrick Chapel (Rutgers University), Central Lutheran Church (Eugene), St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral (Seattle), the Sejong Cultural Center (South Korea), and Gaoloumen Christian Church (Nanjing, China). He has presented master classes at many institutions including the Eastman School, Rutgers University, Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Alberta, the University of Oregon, the University of Calgary, Westminster Choir College, and for several chapters of the American Guild of Organists.
As a member of the Walla Walla University music faculty Scott’s responsibilities include conducting the University choirs, teaching organ and harpsichord, serving as church organist, and overseeing all music at the University Church. Since assuming direction of the University choral ensembles in 2009 he and the small choir, I Cantori, have toured throughout the Northwest and to San Francisco, Honolulu, and southern California. As a guest conductor his appearances include leading the festival chorus of Central Lutheran Church (Eugene, Oregon), and conducting the 500-voice choir of the Seventh-day Adventist International Choral Congress in Bucha, Ukraine. In addition to his work at WWU he serves as adjunct instructor at Whitman College.
Scott holds an associate degree from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto and a bachelor’s degree from Walla Walla University. His advanced degrees include a MMus from the University of Oregon, an MA and DMA from the Eastman School of Music, and post graduate choral conducting training at Michigan State University.
Director, Big Band
Cello, String Bass, Introduction to Music
Voice, Singer's Diction
Piano, Pedagogy and Literature: Piano
Music in the Elementary School, Elementary School Methods and Materials