The Indiana Music Education Association Professional Development Conference in Ft. Wayne will have a distinct northern Illinois feel to it this weekend.
Not only has Reggie Thomas, Professor and Head of Jazz Studies at NIU been asked to direct the Indiana All-State Jazz Band, but the NIU Wind Ensemble will perform twice, a rare honor for an out-of-state ensemble.
Under the direction of Thomas Bough, Conductor of Wind Symphony and Director of Athletic Bands at NIU, the Wind Ensemble will perform a featured concert at 3:30 p.m. which includes a guest solo by Christopher Scanlon, Assistant Professor of Trumpet at NIU. And an 11 a.m. concert titled “Music By Black Composers.”
“NIU as a whole and the School of Music in particular is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Bough said. “One of the things I’m really proud about is that for the last two years, every single concert of every single band has included music from a Black composer and a female composer and in some cases more than one piece. I’m really proud of what we’re doing. We are emerging as a leader in that regard. Over the course of the fall semester we performed all of this music and now we’re devoting an entire concert to that work.”
The Music By Black Composers concert includes music written by composers like William Owen, Tania Leon, Anthony Barfield, Dwayne Milburn, Quincy Hilliard and Quinn Mason.
In the afternoon performance, the Wind Ensemble will perform a number of pieces, including Musing on Mahler written by Bough and featuring Scanlon’s solo on trumpet.
“It has been a pleasure performing as a soloist with the Wind Ensemble and Dr. Bough conducting his “trumpet concerto,” Musings on Mahler,” Scanlon said.“ By the end of this semester we will have performed if four times, on a Wind Ensemble concert in Boutell last fall, at the Indiana Music Educators Conference in January, at the Batavia Fine Arts Festival and NIU Concert Band Festivals in February.
“It is a wonderful piece that takes the beautiful melodies of Mahler lieder and gives them to the solo trumpet voice. As a showpiece it is not without some flashy technical passages but overwhelmingly the piece employs my favorite thing to do as a musician, sing through the trumpet. It is also unique in that each of its three movements are performed on a different “auxiliary” trumpet. Like most trumpet players the main instrument I perform and practice with is the Bb trumpet. Dr. Bough foregoes the common Bb trumpet and wrote a movement each for the Cornet, Flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet. Navigating these three very different instruments in one solo piece is a fun challenge. It is exciting to share this piece with so many other musicians and educators and I hope they consider programming it as well.”
Music By Black Composers will be conducted by Bough and by graduate assistants Annie Sun Chung, Dan’ica Richardson and Bryan A. Flippin. The featured concert will be conducted by Bough and Chung.
Bough has presented at the Indiana conference before and took a chance that the high quality work of the Wind Ensemble merited consideration to perform at it. “They said that we were welcome to apply to perform but that they almost never take out of state ensembles,” he said. “We submitted some audio recordings and some video of rehearsals and programs, and they must have liked what they heard and saw. I was pleasantly surprised to receive not just one, but two invitations to perform. To the best of my knowledge and NIU ensemble has not appeared at a state convention in more than a decade. We’re really excited to take our music across state lines. It’s especially fitting now that NIU no longer charges an out of state tuition rate.”