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John Hilliard   

 You are invited to visit the composer's website for more information.


John Hilliard (b. 1947, Hot Springs, Arkansas) is Professor of Music, a resident composer and Co-Chair of the Contemporary Music Festival at the School of Music of James Madison University. He has received commissions and grants from various organizations and institutions, including the Lanier Trio of Georgia State University, the Northwest Trumpet Guild, the Young Keyboard Artists Association, James Madison University, Cornell University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Mid-America Arts Council, the Fulbright Program, the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Meet-the-Composer Program, the Virginia Commission for the Arts in conjunction with the NEA. For over 12 summers , Hilliard taught on the composition and theory faculty of the National Music Camp (now Interlochen Arts Camp) at Interlochen, Michigan. Consequently, his works have been featured on the National Public Radio Series "Music from Interlochen", and on their recent CD sampler. He has taught previously at Cornell University and Washington State University. In addition in 1994, Hilliard served on the music advisory board for the North Carolina State Arts Council.

Hilliard received his doctorate in composition from Cornell in 1983, studying there with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Karel Husa. While at Cornell, he studied and performed Indonesian Gamelan music with international authority Jenny Lindsay. His other teachers have included Donald Erb, W. Francis McBeth, Eugene Kurtz, George Balch Wilson, Robert Palmer and Ned Rorem. Hilliard has held residencies at the Charles Ives Center for American Music, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Tokyo-based Japan Foundation; and has been the featured guest composer at over twenty colleges and universities around the country. His works have been performed widely in the United States, and in the United Kingdom, Austria, South America, Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan (NHK television); including U.S. performances at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the World Saxophone Congresses (U.S. and London), the International Electronic Music Plus Festival, Merkin Hall-New York City, and at seventeen new music festivals. He has had orchestral works performed by The Saint Louis Symphony, The Richmond Symphony (Va), The Ithaca College Symphony, The Kansas City Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, The Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, The James Madison University Symphony Orchestra, and The Danville Illinois Symphony. Recent honors include an annual ASCAP Award, a grant from James Madison University, a commission from the International Horn Society, and the first place award in the Virginia Music Teachers Association's Commissioned Composer Contest for 1992. He was one of two composers requested to compose music for President Bill Clinton's first inauguration in January 1993. In 1995 Hilliard was given a six-month residency grant to be an Artistic Fellow for the Japan Foundation in Tokyo and Nara, where he studied Gagaku, Shakuhachi, traditional Japanese music performance, and composed. His second symphony was premiered in Feb. of 1997 by the Danville Illinois Symphony Orchestra. Also in July of 1997 his Five Miro Bagatelles was performed in Vienna, Austria. For the academic year 1998-99, Hilliard was chosen as a Senior Fulbright Scholar for a residency in Hong Kong, to compose a Mass and to teach composition. Recent commissions include works for the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir, a chamber work for the contemporary music ensemble of Kansas City, NewEar, and for James Madison University's wind ensemble with solo piano. This last work was written in part to commemorate the JMU Contemporary Music Festival in the year 2000.

Contact Information

School of Music
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807


Annual Updates




Piano Concerto No. 3 by James Madison University Symphony Orchestra, Lori Piitz, soloist with Robert McCashin conducting, at the 30th Annual Contemporary Music Festival of JMU in the newly completed arts complex of the Forbes Center of the College of Performing Arts at JMU on 10/12/10.  The second movement of the concerto will be performed again on 11/13/10 for the Virginia Music Teachers Association annual conference held at JMU.




Cello Sonata was introduced October 24, 2009, by James Wilson, in Washington, DC.


The Grand Transverse, concerto for trumpet and orchestra, was presented by soloist James Kloesner and the James Madison University School of Music Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Robert McCashin, Harrisonburg, VA.


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