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Afrim Shabani, Piano/Composition 

 Faculty member at Illinois State University and Heartland Community College, member of the American Composers Forum.



Robert Nakea, Piano 

Robert Nakea is originally from Hawaii. He started learning piano at age six, and by age 15 made his solo debut with the Honolulu Symphony. He is a two-time laureate of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition (1988 and 1994), and was the winner of the Joseph Fisch International Piano Competition in 1986.  He has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, performing in such venues as the Bergen International Music Festival in Norway, the Eisteddfod Festival of Wales, and Operafestival di Roma.  An active concert pianist, Mr. Nakea enjoys teaching young musicians of all skill levels, instilling in them a love for music and for the instrument.


Sarah Strand, Piano 

Sarah has a Bachelor’s of Music Education degree from Illinois State University where she graduated with departmental honors.

Along with teaching piano for 30  years, Sarah has also taught high school choirs and music appreciation classes.  Sarah comes from a very musical family and herself has enjoyed playing piano since the age of 5.  Sarah’s specialty is teaching children of all ages and being able to share the world of music with them.



Rachel Pinto, Piano 

Rachel Pinto is a Bloomington/Normal “townie.” She graduated from Normal Community High School and received her Bachelor’s in Music from Illinois State University. She has been playing piano for nearly 21 years and teaching for almost 15 years. During her high school and college years, Rachel was an avid singer, pianist, accompanist, and teacher. After graduating from ISU, Rachel was in Springfield, Illinois, working on a Music Therapy Internship. Upon returning to Bloomington, Rachel became the Director of Liturgy and Music for St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington. As a pianist, Rachel has worked with numerous choirs, soloists, and instrumentalists, preparing for contests, concerts, and recitals. In March of 2021, Rachel became the new Director of Marketing for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra.