Harpist Dr. Rachel Brandwein is the winner of the 2014 Mu Phi Epsilon International Solo Competition. She was the Mu Phi Epsilon Concert Artist for the 2014-2016 concert seasons and performed and gave outreach presentations throughout the continental United States.
Dr. Brandwein is on faculty at Luther College, and College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University. She also teaches at a summer harp program for adult learners: the Adult Harp Retreat in Georgia. Brandwein has presented master classes around the United States as well as in Asia. Among her many performance and composition accomplishments are first prizes and grants in numerous regional and national competitions sponsored by the American Harp Society , the American String Teachers Association, and Mu Phi Epsilon.
In addition to solo, chamber, and orchestral appearances in Ireland, Taiwan, and China, Brandwein embarked on a nine state, fifteen concert tour with Trio Matisse (flute, cello, harp) as part of the Allied Concert Services Tours. She frequently performs with various ensembles throughout the United States, including the National Lutheran Choir (with whom she can be heard on their Christmas CD released in 2016). Brandwein has also performed concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra under conductors Osmo Vänskä, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Yan Pascal Tortelier, and Mark Wigglesworth, and debuted in Hong Kong and Chiayi, Taiwan, with flutist Linda Chatterton in late 2016. The duo completed a chamber music tour of the Midwest in 2018. Brandwein toured while performing Ennanga, a harp concerto by William Grant Still, as a featured faculty member with the Luther College Symphony Orchestra in 2018. She enjoys concertizing with trombonist Dr. David Peterson as the Branderson Duo in programs of original and arranged works. Having appeared in New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Michigan, Louisiana, and Nebraska, they were awarded a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and in 2016 premiered and commissioned a work by Dr. Paul Salerni. They also completed a concert and workshop residency at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
In 2013 Brandwein was awarded the top prize in the Mu Phi Epsilon Original Composition Contest for her work for harp solo Introduction, Theme, & Variations. In 2014, by invitation from the American Harp Society, she performed a full recital of her compositions at the National Conference in New Orleans. Also in 2014, she was awarded a commission grant by the American Harp Society to write a work for Apple Orange Pair (horn and harp), and in 2015 she completed a residency as a composer with the duo at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute. The same work written for them, Suite de Nature, received the top prize in the 2015 Original Composition Contest sponsored by Mu Phi Epsilon. Since its premiere in 2015, it has been performed with horn, trombone, and flute. Her harp solos received the ARCH Awards for original harp solos from the American Harp Society Minnesota Chapter in 2013 and 2015. She finished a work for organ and harp which was commissioned by the House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, MN, and was premiered on their Chamber Music Concert Series in 2017 with organist Aaron David Miller. She and Dr. Miller will present their organ and harp music at the 2019 American Harp Society Institute in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Brandwein served on the committee and co-presented a composition master class workshop with composer Libby Larsen during the new Young Composer’s Program at the 2017 American Harp Society National Institute. She also shared a concert with featured student composers, which included her performance of her original composition, The Pattern Wheel: Suite for Harp Solo. In 2018 Brandwein completed a commission for harp ensemble, also generously funded by the American Harp Society. Her compositions have been performed at venues such as the University of Michigan, University of Indiana, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, University of Minnesota, Kansas State University, Sacramento State University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, National Chiayi University in Taiwan, and at Interlochen Center for the Arts where she served on the faculty during their summer camp season for ten summers.
Dr. Brandwein earned degrees from the University of Michigan (BM), The Juilliard School (MM), and Stony Brook University (DMA). She also studied harp and French for one year in Paris and Lyon, France. After performing at her doctoral commencement, she was awarded the prestigious Ackerman Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies for high accomplishment in performance and pedagogy. Dr. Brandwein’s goal as an educator is to help her students appreciate and fulfill their artistic potential with confidence, creativity, and courage.