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Jessica Nilles, a native of Webster City, Iowa, is a doctoral candidate pursuing a degree in Piano Performance at the University of Colorado Boulder. She currently serves as adjunct piano faculty at Wartburg College, her alma mater. Known for her passion for solo and collaborative performances, as well as teaching, Nilles has been actively involved in all three facets throughout her career in an effort to constantly grow as a musician.
As a soloist, Nilles recently performed works of Beethoven in Eisenstadt, Austria, in venues including the Esterházy Palace. She is especially passionate about French music of composers like Debussy and Ravel, and she is also an advocate of new music. Nilles frequently performs with the Colorado New Music Ensemble, which has included a performance of Tempest Fantasy by Paul Moravec, and in Pendulum New Music concerts at the university. She recently premiered a work by Carter Pann (2016 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Music), titled "Poems for Jason" at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Other experiences include a performance with the University of Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra as a winner of the university’s concerto competition in 2014, performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Nilles regularly performs in solo recitals every year and has received numerous awards, including being named winner of the OMTA Piano Competition, winner of the piano duet category of the MTNA Division Competition, winner of the Terrace Hill Piano Competition, and placing third in the OU Donna Turner Smith Piano Competition. Jessica also performed Beethoven's Choral Fantasy with the Wartburg Community Symphony and the Cedar Valley Metropolitan Chorale in 2012.
Collaborative performances have also been an important addition to Jessica's musicianship. She has collaborated with the choir departments at the University of Colorado Boulder and at Wartburg College and has experience as an opera rehearsal accompanist and coach, working with the Cimarron Opera in Oklahoma, the opera department at the University of Oklahoma, and the voice department at Wartburg College. Jessica has also performed with many instrumentalists and singers, including various members of the University of Northern Iowa faculty in a large performance titled "A Night at the Opera" and Wartburg College’s artist-in-residence, Simon Estes, with whom she performed at the White House and in his "Roots & Wings" tour across the state of Iowa.
Nilles is also an active teacher and has taught group piano and applied piano at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Oklahoma and taught elementary, middle school, and high school students as a Tower School piano instructor at Wartburg College. An active MTNA member, Jessica held the presidency of the University of Oklahoma MTNA collegiate chapter in the 2013-2014 academic year. Currently, she holds the presidency of the University of Colorado Boulder MTNA collegiate chapter and teaches lessons to students of all ages.
Jessica studies with Dr. Andrew Cooperstock at the University of Colorado Boulder and also holds degrees in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma and Piano Performance from Wartburg College and has studied with Dr. Jane Magrath and Dr. Suzanne Torkelson. She plans on maintaining an active solo and collaborative performance schedule as a doctoral student, while working toward the goal of teaching in higher education.