April 5, 2016 at 9:45am
Dane Lisser

Hollis Prize Recipient Honored

Millikin Hollis Prize

Millikin University's Hollis Prize is the highest award that may be received by a student instrumentalist or vocalist within the School of Music. The 2016 Hollis Prize was awarded on April 3 following a recital in Perkinson Music Center's Kaeuper Hall that featured performances from Millikin University's top three music performing students.

This year's Hollis Prize finalists included: Abigail Karnes (soprano), a senior vocal performance major with a theatre minor from Kearney, Mo.; Brock Gwaltney (piano), a senior piano performance and commercial music major from Jacksonville, Ill.; and Phillip Lopez (baritone-bass), a senior vocal performance major from Avon, Ill.

Brock Gwaltney was named the winner of the 2016 Hollis Prize Competition. Gwaltney performed a variety of musical selections during the competition including Fryderyk Chopin's "Étude," and Ludwig van Beethoven's "Sonata."

"It is an honor to receive the award and it's a dream come true," Gwaltney said. "I am grateful for my amazing professors and I'm happy to make my parents proud."

First awarded in spring 2003, Millikin is one of only a few schools in the country to offer this type of prestigious prize through a music competition. The winner of the Hollis Prize is chosen by outside faculty judges and receives a $2000 award; runners-up each receive $500.

The judges for this year's Hollis Prize Competition included Dr. Bruce Gibbons, Millikin adjunct professor of piano; Pianist Jessica L. Madsen, a 1987 Millikin University graduate, and faculty member of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department; and Dennis Friesen-Carper, Reddel Professor of Music at Valparaiso University.

Millikin Hollis Prize

In recognition of his achievement, Brock Gwaltney will perform a recital on Sunday, April 10, at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, Ill., beginning at 2 p.m.

"This year's competition was perhaps the fiercest yet," said Dr. Stephen Widenhofer, director of Millikin's School of Music. "All of the students were well prepared and played great. Brock will represent the School of Music in a highly professional manner at his concert at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin."

Gwaltney added, "Alumni such has Dr. Hollis have provided much support for Millikin's great music program. Receiving this award reassures me to go forward and earn my graduate degrees in music performance and teaching."

The Hollis Prize Recital is generously funded by Dr. C. Kimm Hollis, a 1972 Millikin graduate, and professor of music and artist in residence at Hanover College in Hanover, Ind.

Hollis Prize Performers

Abigail Karnes – Soprano

Abigail Karnes has recently appeared as Galatea in Millikin Opera Theatre's production of "Acis and Galatea" and Millikin's Main Stage production of "Puccini One Acts" as Nella in "Gianni Schicchi." Karnes has also played French Horn in the pit orchestra for Millikin's 2012 production of "Cinderella." She is a member of the Millikin University Choir and in the summer of 2014 toured with the choir to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. A student of Dr. Hadi Gibbons, Millikin associate professor of music, Karnes is a Millikin Scovill Award winner as well as a member of both Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda. After graduating from Millikin University, Karnes will pursue a Master of Music in Opera Performance at Wichita State University.

Millikin Hollis Prize

Brock Gwaltney - Piano

Brock Gwaltney began playing piano at the age of nine in his hometown of Jacksonville, Ill. He is a recipient of the Alice Herren Ayars Award, offered by Millikin University to outstanding piano students, a winner of the 2014-2015 Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, and a Second Prize winner of the 2014 ISMTA Collegiate Piano Competition. Gwaltney's primary focus is classical music, but he also enjoys jazz and improvisation. Gwaltney will continue his studies pursing a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy starting this fall.  

Phillip Lopez – Baritone-Bass

Phillip Lopez is proud to say that he has worked with Millikin University's Opera Department for the past four years, with credits including soloist in J.S. Bach's "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12," Simone in "Gianni Schicchi," Polyphemus in "Acis and Galatea," and Morton DeValue in "The Magic Pinafore." Lopez is also a member of the Millikin University Choir, where he has enjoyed acting as Bass/Baritone section leader this semester. He has acted as a vocal ensemble member for the College Light Opera Company in Falmouth, Mass., where he performed several different roles including Chino in "West Side Story," and John Jacob Astor in "Titanic." Lopez is a proud member of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Societies.

Millikin Hollis Prize

Millikin University's School of Music develops the whole musician – artistically, intellectually, technically – through the integration of theory and practice in an environment where students become active learners through their relationships with faculty, who themselves continue to grow as artists, scholars, and teachers. For more information, visit millikin.edu/music.