Bienen School alumnus Cory Hills ‘03 has been named an inaugural Gretsch Fellow in Children’s Music at the Fred Rogers Center. The fellowship was created to support research and best practices in music experiences for children. Hills will begin his one-year appointment in September 2021.

During his fellowship, Hills plans to create an anti-bullying music performance/assembly program for elementary schools, using research from the Fred Rogers Archive to explore different ways in which Rogers tackled difficult social concepts and topics with children. Hills’s program will center on issues related to social media and the importance of self-confidence and self-esteem.

Hills studied music education and percussion at the Bienen School of Music, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2003. He also holds degrees from Queensland Conservatorium and the University of Kansas.

In 2009, while a fellow at Institute Fabrica in Italy, Hills launched the program Percussive Storytelling, which brings classical music and storytelling to children in underserved communities. He has presented over 600 performances to more than 170,000 children in 10 countries. He has also released two award-winning children’s albums and published three children’s books, The Lost Bicycle, Beatrice and the POGs, and Beatrice and the Search for the Orb.

An active performer, composer, and recording artist in Los Angeles, as well as a member of the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Hills has individually commissioned and premiered more than 150 original works for percussion and has given solo and chamber recitals across the U.S., Australia, Europe, New Zealand, China and Mexico. He won his first Grammy award in 2020.

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