Described as a "vigorous, alert, and pinpoint" percussionist by the Boston Phoenix, Brandon Ilaw most recently won 2nd prize in the 2014 TROMP International Percussion Competition and 1st prize in the 2016 Necessary Noise Festival Solo Percussion Competition. As a soloist, he has performed Louis Andriessen’s Tapdance with Asko|Schönberg in Eindhoven, The Netherlands and has also appeared as guest soloist with the Orchestra of Indian Hill and The Boston Conservatory Orchestra (after winning the 2011-2012 Boston Conservatory Concerto Competition his sophomore year). In July 2015, he was a Showcase Artist at the Zeltsman Marimba Festival and performed a solo recital with Emmanuel Séjourné in addition to concerts with Marimolin, Jack Van Geem, and Steve Mackey. He also appeared as a featured artist in Juilliard’s Focus! Festival and closed out one of the concerts with Maki Ishii’s Thirteen Drums. In addition to solo performances, Brandon is equally at home in symphonic settings and has served as solo timpanist with the Moritzburg Festival Academy Orchestra, percussionist and assistant timpanist with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and joined the New York Philharmonic for their “Very Young People’s Concert” series. Equally in demand as an educator, he has given recitals and masterclasses at The Boston Conservatory, Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar, Stevens Summer Marimba Seminar, and Conservatorium van Amsterdam.
Classically-trained as a pianist since the age of four, Brandon won numerous prizes as a young child and made his Carnegie Hall debut playing Rachmaninoff in Weill Hall when he was eleven. Letting his musical curiosity get the best of him, he went on to pick up the violin, cello, bass, and guitar and began to experiment across genres from the blues to metal to jazz before finally discovering percussion at age sixteen. Because of his wide range of experience, he has enjoyed a multitude of eclectic experiences, including serving as organist/accompanist at St. Francis de Sales Church, music director at the Kaleidoscope Theatre for Youth @ The Summit Playhouse, and cellist for a performance of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at Boston Conservatory. As a hobby, Brandon moonlights as a singer-songwriter and has performed his own songs in various Boston and NYC venues, including a sold-out Lincoln Center stage when he was a finalist in their College Cabaret Competition.
Brandon proudly holds two degrees: a B.M. in Percussion Performance from The Boston Conservatory studying with Samuel Z. Solomon and Nancy Zeltsman, where he was the Marillyn Zacharis Scholar and the recipient of the Arthur B. Whitney Award for highest academic rank; and an M.M. from The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Daniel Druckman and Glen Velez, where he was awarded the William Schuman Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. After finishing his master’s degree, Brandon completed a two-year fellowship as the core percussionist of Ensemble Connect, an Academy program of Carnegie Hall, Juilliard, and the Weill Institute. He is an Educational Artist and endorser of marimba one® instruments and mallets.
Brandon Ilaw is a versatile multi-instrumentalist and enjoys an eclectic performing schedule in the classical, theater, and dance worlds. After winning 2nd prize in the 2014 TROMP International Percussion Competition in The Netherlands, he completed a two-year fellowship as percussionist in Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect. He has numerous Off-Broadway credits (as music director, drummer/percussionist, pianist, and guitarist) and has worked with the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York New Music Ensemble (NYNME), and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Brandon currently serves as a dance accompanist at The Ailey School, AMDA, and CAP21 and recently released an EP entitled Paper Seasons with his trio, Empire Wild. Outside of the music world, he is also an internationally published portrait and concert photographer. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston Conservatory where he was awarded the Arthur B. Whitney Award for highest academic rank and a master’s degree from The Juilliard School where he was the recipient of the William Schuman Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership. He is a proud endorser and Educational Artist for Marimba One instruments.