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 Philharmonic 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 University 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.
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):
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.
Voice, Singer's Diction, Vocal Techniques and Methods
Dr. Christine Janis has taught at Walla Walla University since 1999. Her duties at WWU include training voice majors and minors, teaching Singer’s Diction, Vocal Techniques and Methods, and the weekly Voice Performance class. Her students can be heard singing in the University choirs and as soloists. Dr. Janis served as vocal coach for Walla Walla University's successful 2016 production of Little Women - The Broadway Musical. Her work on that show garnered her a Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Achievement Award. She also worked as vocal director for Walla Walla University’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in November 2018.
Dr. Janis’ undergraduate degree is from Westminster Choir College in Music Education. After four years teaching middle school and high school vocal music in upstate NY, she pursued graduate degrees at The Ohio State University. Dr. Janis completed a Master of Arts in Vocal Pedagogy under the tutelage of Professor Helen Swank then a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance, studying with Dr. Robin Rice. While at The Ohio State University, Dr. Janis sang leading roles in several operas and operettas including Margot in The Desert Song, Adele in Die Fledermaus and Giannetta in L’Elisird’Amore. In February 1991, as a member of The Ohio State University Chorale, she was honored to sing the soprano solos for the Ohio premier of John Rutter’s Magnificat in Cleveland, OH, with Rutter himself conducting.
Since moving to Walla Walla, Dr. Janis has sung professionally with the Walla Walla Symphony and the Mid-Columbia Symphony, performed numerous solo recitals and, in May of 1995, sang the title role in Whitman College’s production of Hello, Dolly! Dr. Janis is also an accomplished choral conductor, having conducted choirs in her home state of NJ, NY, OH and WA. For fifteen seasons she served as Artistic Director/Conductor for the Walla Walla Choral Society. She works with the Walla Walla Symphony on special choral projects such as the youth chorus for the Nutcracker ballet every 2 years with the Eugene Ballet, and the women’s chorus for the May 2018 concert of Holst’s The Planets and Debussy’s Nocturnes to name a few. Since August of 2001, Dr. Janis has been the choir director at St. Silouan’s Russian Orthodox Church in Walla Walla. She is vice-president for the Danza Classica Ballet Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to fostering the art of ballet and supporting youth ballet in the Walla Walla valley.
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
Elementary School Methods and Materials
Cello, String Bass, Introduction to Music
Piano, Pedagogy and Literature: Piano
Dr. Qian Yin Neacsu
Theory II, Form and Analysis
Music in the Elementary School