B i o g r a p h y
Rob Hlebinsky (luh-BIN-skee) is an organist and pianist currently living and working in western Michigan. At present, he serves First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven as organist, choir accompanist, and handbell choir director. In addition to his church work, Rob is also a freelance musician, entertainer, and instructor.
Rob is currently available as a recitalist, service musician for weddings and funerals, entertainer for a variety of social functions, and piano and organ teacher. He is willing to travel throughout the U.S as a recitalist and is available in western and southwest Michigan for other services.
Born January 24, 1985, Rob grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, and began his musical training at an early age. Starting piano lessons at age 6, Rob instantly took a liking to music. At 8 years old, he began studying the violin as well. Progressing quickly on the piano, Rob began taking private lessons from Natasha Snitkovsky at age 11. A world renowned performer in her own right, Mrs. Snitkovsky helped Rob achieve a new level of ability.
In 1997, Rob was given an opportunity to put his musical skills to use as an accompanist for a children's choir at his home church, Christ United Methodist in Bethel Park, PA. It was an experience that Rob loved almost from day one, and is a role he still greatly enjoys today.
It was in this new role, however, that he caught the attention of the church's organist, John Erickson. After observing Rob for a year, Mr. Erickson contacted Rob's parents saying he believed that Rob would make a good organist. Long fascinated by the instrument, Rob leapt at the chance. It quickly became apparent that this was the instrument Rob was truly meant to play.
In January of 2000, just one day before his 15th birthday, Rob was given an opportunity that would change his life forever. Due to unexpected circumstances Mr. Erickson had been unable to play for services, and after the church had exhausted all possible substitutes, they decided to give an untested Rob the chance to play the Sunday services. Though his first Sunday on the bench was a little shaky, as he finished the last few notes of his postlude that morning, Rob knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that a career in church music awaited him. Rob went on to play for an additional 5 weeks after that first Sunday until Mr. Erickson was able to return. A year later, Rob would be asked to serve as the church's assistant organist.
Throughout the rest of his high school years, Rob continued to develop his abilities as an organist and pianist. In addition to his instrumental studies, Rob continued to accompany choirs, and took every possible chance to work with different groups to expand his repertoire and stylistic knowledge. December of 2000 brought a new experience to Rob's musical career - that of musical director for a community theater production of Babes in Toyland. Over the next two and a half years, Rob would serve as the musical director for 4 more shows between 2 theater companies.
After graduating high school in 2003, Rob attended Indiana University's Jacob's School of Music in Bloomington, IN, studying under the world renown Dr. Marilyn Keiser. At Indiana, Rob continued to progress rapidly. Apart from instrumental studies, Rob education consisted of intensive courses in music theory and history, church music, and hymnody. Branching out from music, Rob also obtained a minor in French language.
While at Indiana, Rob was actively involved with the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists, took part in a collaboration project between the organ and composition departments, and competed in the AGO's nationwide Quimby Competition and several local scholarship competitions. Rob also took on his first "full-time" church position during his college years at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lebanon, IN.
In 2007, Rob graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor's degree in Organ Performance. After graduation, Rob moved to Grand Rapids, MI, though he continued to serve Centenary through December of that same year. He then spent a year trying to find a position in the Grand Rapids area, with no success. After a year of searching, Rob decided to expand his search area. This ultimately led him to Trinity United Methodist Church in Tallahassee, FL where he served as organist and choir accompanist.
During his tenure at Trinity, Rob began to expand his musical world into several new areas. First and foremost, he got his first real start into conducting. Though he had occasionally served as a substitute conductor for his other churches, at Trinity Rob would get a full taste of being on the other side of the piano as the director of the Youth Choir. In the year he spend working with the youth, Rob gained valuable experience in not only conducting, but also in managing the administrative side of a church choir. Second, Rob helped found the Friends of Music Society - a group that was dedicated to organizing and funding a concert series at Trinity. Third, Rob expanded his performance experience to include several trumpet and organ concerts given with Dr. Randall Haynes. Finally, Rob gained experience in presenting three different workshops concerning the organ, one of which - Hymn Playing: Everything That's On The Page, But Isn't - he presented at the Florida State Music Teachers Association Convention in 2009.
Extenuating family circumstances brought Rob back to Grand Rapids in 2011, where he was blessed to fill the part-time role of Director of Music and Organist at Bethel Lutheran Church in Grandville, MI. Rob spent a year and a half working with the choir at Bethel and playing for their services. During his time there, he began a well received weekly concert series and also taught an introductory class on music reading.
In the summer of 2012, Rob was blessed with an opportunity for a more full-time position as organist at First Presbyterian Church in Grand Haven, MI. Rob has now served over three years with this church and is proud to be a part of their vibrant music ministry.