Ever since last spring’s pandemic shutdown, NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies associate Jui-Ching Wang, professor of world music, looked forward to rescheduling what was going to be a showcase of Southeast Asian performing arts to celebrate NIU’s 125th anniversary year and to mark NIU’s long history with Southeast Asian studies. This free public event is now back on the calendar, set for Friday, November 5, at 7 p.m. CDT in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall in the NIU Music Building on the university’s main campus. In addition, Balinese shadow puppetry expert Jennifer Goodlander of Indiana University and Cambodian composer Chinary Ung of the University of California-San Diego will present two lectures before the event.

The 125th Anniversary Celebration Showcase of Southeast Asian Performing Arts, directed by Wang, will feature wayang kulit puppetry from Indonesia, Thai music and dance, Javanese gamelan, Vietnamese guitar. The performance also features two world premiere contemporary percussion pieces, one by Cambodian composer Chinary Ung, professor of music at the University of California-San Diego, and the other by NIU School of Music alumnus David Gordon. Gregory Breyer, director of percussion studies at NIU, will perform the Ung piece on marimba. He will also direct the Gordon piece, inspired by Javanese gamelan music, performed by the NIU Percussion Ensemble.

The concert leads off with shadow puppetry performed by guest artist Jennifer Goodlander, whose writing and research has been devoted to this art as interpreted in Bali, Indonesia. In her career, Goodlander has performed Balinese wayang kulit at international festivals and around the United States. Other performers include Vietnamese classical guitarist and NIU guitar faculty member An Tran, the NIU Javanese Gamelan Ensemble, the Friends of the Gamelan in Chicago, the NIU Thai Music Ensemble, and the Thai Culture and Fine Arts Institute of Chicago.

In conjunction with the concert will be an opening reception at 6 p.m. for “Looking at Women in Contemporary Burma,” an exhibit of Burmese contemporary art from the Burma Art Collection, on display in the Reynolds Whitney Art Gallery through December 12. The Reynolds Whitney Art Gallery is located in the lobby of the School of Music’s Recital Hall, directly adjacent to the concert hall.

The evening’s events are co-sponsored by the NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies; the Center for Burma Studies; the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the College of Visual and Performing Arts; and the School of Music.

In addition, NIU faculty member An Tran will give a faculty recital at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the Music Building Recital Hall. For information on any of these events, contact Liz Denius at edenius@niu.edu or Jui-Ching Wang at jcwang@niu.edu.

SE Asian Showcase poster