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Renee Gastelum '18

Renee Gastelum '18
Renee Gastelum '18

See what Renee Gastelum '18 has been up to since her Oakwood days. She recently visited our High School music classes to speak to our students about exploring options in the chosen career you’ve made and shared with them that even talents that are not related to your art can be incorporated into into your brand. Renee also held a benefit music concert in the new theatre in support of her outreach work.

Taiwanese-Hispanic organist Renee Chiu uses music to build bridges across cultures and across continents. This past summer, she founded and directed two summer music camps as part of the All Kids Need Music project. The first camp was for refugees in Provo, Utah, and the second was for victims of domestic violence and abuse in Hualien, Taiwan. She not only was the recipient of a $15,000 grant from the Laycock Foundation, but also personally fundraised over $10,000 for these projects. An interview about her projects will be used in English-learning materials published by the State Department. 

In addition to serving as the Music Director at Utah Valley Refugees, Renee is an accomplished concert organist, church organist, concert pianist, choir accompanist, jazz pianist, improviser, composer, and educator. 

Renee is an active member of the Utah Valley and San Jose chapters of the American Guild of Organists (AGO). At the age of 19, she became a Colleague of the AGO, which certification is equivalent to that of a Bachelor’s Degree in Organ Performance. At the age of 22, she progressed further and became an Associate of the AGO, a certification equivalent to a Master’s Degree in Organ Performance. Renee currently serves as the principal organist at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Provo. Renee also accompanies approximately 10,000 students during BYU campus-wide devotionals every quarter. Her organ recordings will be published through the Magnum Opus label during the latter half of 2023.

As a collaborative pianist, Renee works primarily with SATB community choirs in Utah Valley. She was the rehearsal accompanist for Ensign Singers, Canticum Lucis, and the Nebo Holiday Choir. She has also served as the understudy rehearsal pianist for the Wasatch Chorale and the evening section of the Brigham Young University Chorale.

Renee manages a private piano studio of 20 students in the Provo/Orem area. Renee not only emphasizes technical, note-reading, performance, and competition skills, but she also provides musical service opportunities for her students. Additionally, her students can choose to learn about an additional musical field, such as jazz improvisation, composition, music and business, or music notation software.

Renee served as a volunteer representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Taipei, Taiwan from 2019-2020. Upon returning to the United States, she taught Mandarin Chinese at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Renee’s experiences in Taiwan, her Taiwanese-Hispanic heritage, and her upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area have fueled her desire to connect cultures through music.

Renee Chiu graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree of Organ Performance from Brigham Young University in April 2023. Her teachers include Dr. Don Cook, Dr. Neil Harmon, and Harold Stuart. She is the recipient of the American Guild of Organists San Jose Frasier Scholarship, university- and nation-wide Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society scholarships, and numerous Brigham Young University scholarships. 

Renee's presentations during the 2023-2024 season include the Curriculum Development Collective 2023 Social Impact Conference, the Utah Music Teacher's Association 2023 Conference, and the American Guild of Organists 2024 National Convention. She is currently a candidate for a Master's of Organ Performance at Brigham Young University. She intends to eventually earn a Doctoral Degree of Music Teaching and Learning.