Luther College faculty Xiao Hu and Du Huang received the Tomson Family Faculty Fellowship award. A married couple amongst Luther's faculty, Hu has been employed at Luther since 2002, and Huang since 2001.
Established through the development office, the fellowship was established to honor great teaching in the liberal arts, provide tenured faculty with opportunity to study and rethink the ways they encourage Luther's students to learn. Tenured faculty in accounting, business/economics, mathematics and music are eligible to apply. Applicants create proposals to complete their scholarly work, as well as a timeline for the project's completion.
Hu and Huang, who perform together as Unison Piano Duo, have been invited to perform in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in December by the concert organization, "Musica no Museu."
The New York Concert Review rated Unison Piano Duo as "sparkling and fleeting…unusually high level of ensemble playing." The Unison Piano Duo has performed on Minnesota Public Radio, Iowa Public Television, Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall and more than 40 college campuses across the United States, Europe and Asia.
The Unison Piano Duo have toured the Czech Republic twice, as part of the Vysocina Music Festival and the South Bohemia Music Festival. In addition, they presented a workshop at the Conference of European Piano Teachers Association in the Czech Republic. The Unison Piano Duo has also recorded for the Innova and MSR Classics labels in the United States, and with the Yangtze River label in China.
Hu earned her Bachelor of Music summa cum laude and Master of Music degrees from the University of Cincinnati and studied with Eugene and Elizabeth Pridonoff while there. She later earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook, under pianist Gilbert Kalish. She has won concerto competitions at both of these universities. Besides teaching and performing, Hu has also served as an adjudicator for the 62nd Hong Kong Schools Music Festival, the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra's Rising Star Young Artist Competition and the Iowa and Wisconsin Music Teachers' Association competitions.
Huang received a Bachelor of Music magna cum laude and a Master of Music in piano performance from the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music. He went on to obtain a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Huang frequently serves on the piano faculty at summer festivals and programs in Europe and Asia. He has also been part of the piano faculty at Saarburg International Music Festival in Germany, since 2013. His active adjudicating services include the Chicago Duo Piano Festival Competition, Hong Kong Schools Music Festival, Shanghai International Piano Festival and Institute, and numerous Music Teacher National Association competitions in the United States. Huang holds a Guest Professorship at Wuhan Conservatory of Music in his native country of China.
Luther is home to one of the largest undergraduate music programs in the nation, with six choirs, three orchestras, three bands, two jazz bands and more than 800 student musicians. Luther students participate in large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. Nearly 275 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance.