Newell to receive Jessie Hillman Award for Excellence

SUNY Distinguished teaching professor Julie Newell.

State University of New York at Fredonia alumna and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Julie L. Newell of the School of Music has been selected to receive the Jessie Hillman Award for Excellence.

“Her dedication to the teaching profession, including 29 years at Fredonia in the Voice Area, fostering the development of singers and artists, being director of the Opera Program and producer of the annual Hillman Opera for 26 years, and directing opera in staged concerts makes her a worthy recipient of this recognition,” said Robert E. Coon, former president of the Hillman Memorial Music Association Board of Directors.

Ms. Newell has fostered international opportunities for Fredonia students in Japan and Italy through Lyric Arts International and is the former executive director of the Western New York Chamber Orchestra.

Some of her many others honors include being named a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, and a recipient of the William T. Hagan Young Scholar/Artist Award, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Fredonia Alumni Association and the SUNY Research Foundation Award for Scholarship in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

Newell has performed major operatic roles such as Mimi, Desdemona, Alice Ford, Countess Almaviva, and Pamina, amongst many others throughout the U.S., with companies including: Arizona, Indianapolis, Memphis, Orlando, Kansas City, Long Beach, Syracuse, and Chautauqua, to name a few. She has premiered works by Antonio Vivaldi and Gian-Carlo Menotti to critical acclaim at New York’s Lincoln Center. As a concert singer, she has collaborated with numerous conductors including Kazuyoshi Akiyama, David Zinman, Fabio Mechetti and Maximiano Valdes and been a Metropolitan Opera National Council District Winner.

Newell is a graduate of Fredonia as a member of the Class of 1982, with a Bachelor of Music degree with majors in Music Performance and Music Education and a Performer’s Certificate, and was a winner in the Fredonia Concerto Competition. Her Master of Music in Performance degree was earned from Syracuse University in 1985 where she was selected as a University Fellow.

The award will be presented to Newell on Friday, Nov. 9, the opening night of the 2018 Hillman Opera “Don Giovanni”. The fully-staged production of Mozart’s masterpiece will feature talented students from the School of Music. Based on the legend of Don Juan, “Don Giovanni” had its premiere in 1787. It blends comedy, melodrama and elements of the supernatural. “Don Giovanni” will be presented in Marvel Theatre Nov. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available through the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center at (716) 673-3501.

The Hillman Memorial Music Association bestows the Jessie Hillman Award for Excellence to recognize dedicated and respected musicians or educators who have demonstrated a passion for teaching or performance or when excellence needs to be recognized.

The award is named after Jessie Hillman, a graduate of the Brockport Normal School who joined the faculty at the Fredonia Normal School in 1884. She is credited with being “Fredonia’s Musical Leader” and with having established a music major program which had its first graduates in 1889. Miss Hillman became the principal piano teacher at the school and continued her teaching, with two “sabbatical” breaks, until her retirement in 1923. For 20 more years, until her death in 1943, Hillman continued to teach private piano students and to be a significant force for musical culture in the Fredonia community.

Past award recipients have been Mrs. Helen Tinch Williams (Class of 1960) in 2010, and Dr. Frank (Class of 1956) and Sallie (Shapely) (Class of 1958) Pullano in 2011.

Hillman Memorial Music Association Board members include Daniel L. Bromsted, president; Gileen W. French, treasurer; Dr. Richard Friemann; Jessica Gugino, scholarship chair; Ellen H. Meister, vice president; Dr. J. Brien Murphy; Charles M. Notaro; Dr. Linda N. Phillips; Barbara M. Yochym, secretary; and Mr. Coon, honorary member/past president.

The Hillman Opera, which celebrated 60 years of annual opera production in 2017, is distinguished by providing one of the longest running, annual, fully-staged operatic opera programs for undergraduate students in the country. The annual production is a highlight of each academic year, and the professional caliber attracts a large and enthusiastic audience from the surrounding community. Via the Hillman endowment, over $10,000 a year are awarded in scholarships to selected music students.