April 13, 2018 at 10:15am
Dane Lisser

John Robinson receives Millikin's 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 16th annual Hollis Prize was awarded on Saturday, April 7, following a recital at Kaeuper Hall in Perkinson Music Center. The concert featured performances from Millikin University's top three music performing students.

Hollis PrizeThis year's finalists were Emily Hill, a junior instrumental flute performance major from Forsyth, Ill.; John Robinson, a senior instrumental trombone performance major from Normal, Ill.; and Hannah Neuhauser, a senior vocal performance major from Winston-Salem, N.C.

John Robinson was named the winner of the 2018 Hollis Prize competition. In recognition of his achievement, Robinson will perform a recital on Sunday, April 15, at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, Ill., beginning at 2 p.m.

This year's competition was judged by Dr. Abby Musgrove, director of choral activities at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill., and David Commanday, artistic director and conductor of the Heartland Festival Orchestra, director of instrumental music at Eureka College and music director of Youth Music Illinois.

"The Hollis Prize is a unique opportunity for Millikin students to experience a high-stakes, Performance Learning competition scenario," said Brian Justison, director of the Millikin School of Music.

During his time at Millikin, John Robinson has performed with the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra (MDSO), Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band 1 and various other jazz, chamber and musical theatre ensembles. Robinson is a two-time finalist in the MDSO Concerto Aria Competition (2016 and 2018) and a semifinalist in the 2015 Orchestral Excerpts Competition hosted by the Southeast Trombone Symposium.

"I was certainly surprised that I won, but it was also a great experience because I've been working for this in a way since I've been attending Millikin," said Robinson. 

During the competition, Robinson performed Johann Georg Albrechtsberger's "Concerto for Alto Trombone," Robert Schumann's "Drei Romanzen" and Paul Hindemith's "Sonata for Trombone and Piano."

Hollis Prize

When talking about his development as a musician, Robinson said, "I'm at a point where I can hit the right notes and make it sound really musical in a nice performance – it's the type of thing I've graduated to working on in more of my playing."

Robinson says the Millikin School of Music stands out because of its excellent faculty.

"The School encourages students to try different things and do multiple things at the same time," said Robinson. "I perform in the wind ensemble but I also perform jazz, and at some schools you can only focus on one area, but I'm able to do both."

Hollis Prize

In the summer of 2017, Robinson spent a month touring with musicians from seven different countries as part of the 60th Anniversary Tour of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra. After graduating, he plans to continue his study of the trombone in a graduate program.

"I came to Millikin because I had more opportunities to do things right away and that helped me grow quicker as a musician," said Robinson.

First awarded in spring 2003, Millikin University 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 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

Emily HillEmily Hill is a junior instrumental performance major at Millikin studying flute with Dr. Laurie Glencross, associate professor of music. She performs in many music ensembles both on and off campus including the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Flute Choir, Flute Quartet, as well as the Decatur Municipal Band. Hill is a recent finalist in the MDSO Young Artist Concerto Aria Competition and the Wind Ensemble's Student Soloist Competition. She has performed in a masterclass setting for the eminent flute pedagogue, Bernard Z. Goldberg, and was named Outstanding Sophomore by Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Society.

Along with performing, Hill is also passionate about teaching the flute. She has taught numerous young flute players through the Millikin Preparatory Department and has served as assistant conductor of the Greater Decatur Youth Band for the past two summers. Hill's extensive involvement on campus and in the community has resulted in her nomination for the 2018 Scovill Award at Millikin.

John Robinson is a senior instrumental performance major at Millikin studying trombone with Dr. Gary Shaw, professor of music and director of bands. During his time at Millikin, Robinson has performed with the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band 1 and various other jazz, chamber and musical theatre ensembles. He is a two-time finalist in the MDSO Concerto Aria Competition (2016 and 2018) and a semifinalist in the 2015 Orchestral Excerpts Competition hosted by the Southeast Trombone Symposium.

In 2016 and 2017, Robinson participated in the trombone ensemble at the Midwest Trombone and Euphonium Conference. In the summer of 2017, he spent a month touring with musicians from seven different countries as part of the 60th Anniversary Tour of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra. After graduating, he plans to continue his study of the trombone in a graduate program.

Hannah NeuhauserHannah Neuhauser is a senior vocal performance major at Millikin studying voice with Dr. Amy Fuller, adjunct instructor in voice. She has been an active participant in Millikin Women (choir) and the Opera Theatre program. Regarding the latter, she recently concluded her third main stage production performing the role of Nina in "Nina: La Storia Nascosta." What's more, she will be serving as stage manager for the upcoming production of "The Magic Flute."

Neuhauser is a James Millikin Scholar, member of Phi Kappa Phi for academic excellence and recent contributor to the Blue Docs Rock Film Festival among other activities in the Honors Program at Millikin through her work as an undergraduate fellow. Looking happily towards her future, she is extremely excited to pursue a master's in musicology.

The mission of the Millikin School of Music is to develop 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.