Five NIU music students selected for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Academy

Five NIU music students selected for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Academy

Northern Collective

Northern Collective: Arman Sangalang, Austin Menk, Kirby Fellis, Noah Brooks, Morgan Turner

Five students from the NIU School of Music have been selected as one of just four combo/small ensemble groups from around the nation to participate in this year’s Jazz Aspen Snowmass Academy in Aspen, Colorado.

The NIU combo is named Northern Collective and is made up of Arman Sangalang (saxophone), Kirby Fellis (trombone), Austyn Menk (piano), Morgan Turner (bass) and Noah Brooks (drums).

Throughout their time as students at NIU, they have joined together through their mutual love for long-standing groups like the early Miles Davis Quintet and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. This understanding alongside influences by contemporary musicians like Mulgrew Miller, Roy Hargrove, and Kenny Garrett have shaped the Northern Collective’s sound.

The group aims to make music that honors the past while also hinting at the future. Collectively, they have worked with artists like NIU Professor of Music and Head of Jazz Studies Reggie Thomas, NIU Associate Professor Jazz Guitar and Jazz Studies Bobby Broom, Rodney Whitaker, and Jeff Hamilton among others. Members of the group have also received various accolades for Essentially Ellington, the Jack Rudin Jazz Championship, and the Jazz Institute of Chicago and have performed at venues like Fulton Street Collective, Merriman’s Playhouse, the Jazz Kitchen, Fitzgerald’s, and Elastic Arts.




Kane Repertory Theatre presents outdoor production of Twelfth Night

Kane Repertory Theatre presents outdoor production of Twelfth Night

Kane Rep Twelfth NightKane Repertory Theatre, founded in 2019 by a group of alumni from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, in partnership with the St. Charles Park District, presents a live outdoor production of the Shakespeare classic “Twelfth Night” at the Historic Pavilion on the Fox River. The play is directed by Northwestern MFA Directing candidate Katie Lupica. It premieres July 28th at 7 p.m. and runs through August with its last show at 7 pm on August 12th. Tickets can be purchased online.

“Twelfth Night” is a fast-paced romantic comedy with several interwoven plots of romance, mistaken identities and practical jokes. Separated from her twin brother Sebastian in a shipwreck, Viola disguises herself as a boy, calls herself Cesario, and becomes a servant to the Duke Orsino.

“Twelfth Night, though not set in a particular season, takes its title from the twelfth day of Christmas, the day when the partying has gone on and a festival season is coming to a close,” says director Katie Lupica. “Our Illyria, staged outside in July, is a summer beach party that doesn’t know how to end. It’s a good time, but its residents are stuck in habits of excess of one thing or another–unrequited love, drink, self-importance, even mourning. That is, until an unexpected visitor washes ashore. Viola, shipwrecked and out of place in this carnival world, brings a breath of fresh air that stirs up discovery, mischief, and eventually true love, catching the most self-serious the most off-guard. With such themes of renewal and invitations to take the blows of life a little more lightly, it is not surprising that “Twelfth Night” has historically been chosen to reopen theaters after times closure. For our audiences, I hope it will be like a summer breeze after the relative airlessness of the last two years. I am excited for people to come together in St. Charles to follow a delightfully tangled story of relatable, surprising, and often hilarious characters getting the kind of shake-up we could all use–to be refreshed, amused, intrigued, and renewed.”


Kane Repertory Theatre, in partnership with the St. Charles Park District, presents a live outdoor production of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare directed by Katie Lupica. Performances are July 28-30,  August 6, 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. with 2 p.m. performances on July 31 and August 7. Tickets prices are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $15 for students.
This play is recommended for all ages. For tickets and more information visit them online.

About Kane Repertory Theatre

Kane Repertory Theatre is a professional 501(c)(3) non-profit theater company located in St. Charles, Ill. By using visceral performance Kane works to spark conversation, evoke empathy and bring the community closer together. Under the leadership of Executive Director Avery Bowne and Artistic Director Danill Krimer, Kane Repertory Theatre strives to be one of the Midwest’s leading regional theaters through new play development, reimagining classics and forming an ensemble of dynamic artists.

Support NIU during Huskies United June 22-23

Support NIU during Huskies United June 22-23

Show your support for Northern Illinois University by making a donation during this year’s Huskies United, June 22-23.

Want to learn more? Check out this video hosted by Kate Drury, a BFA Acting candidate in our very own School of Theatre and Dance.

The NIU experience is about more than choosing a major. It’s about having new experiences, getting involved, and working for a better future.

Huskies United provides critical support for the campus departments, units, and centers that bring the college experience to life and help students of all majors emerge as thoughtful, engaged global citizens. In addition, donations from alumni and friends will:

  • Provide scholarships for students from all walks of life, including those who could not attend college without your support.
  • Support the Northern Fund, which provides flexible funding to support student success, bridge gaps, and allow us to seize emerging opportunities and plan with confidence, and,
  • Help NIU continue to build an inclusive campus environment where everyone respects the value and dignity of all of its members.

NIU is home to a new generation of Huskies working for a better future for us all, and Huskies United is your chance to join them.

Learn more. 

Michael Barnes work featured in major exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum

Michael Barnes work featured in major exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum

Michael Barnes, NIU Presidential Professor, Head of Printmaking and Coordinator of Graduate Programs in the NIU School of Art and Design has eight of his works featured in a new, major exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum.

“Catching the Moment: Contemporary Art from Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons Collection” opens Thursday, June 23 and runs through September 11.


Ted Simmons played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. His wife, Maryanne Ellison Simmons is a fine art printer and publisher. Their collection, which in total includes more than 70 pieces by Michael Barnes, draws on Maryanne’s professional expertise.

Catching the Moment celebrates the acquisition in 2020 of 833 works of contemporary art assembled by Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons. Comprised primarily of prints—and including a painting, drawings, collages, photographs, and editioned sculptures—the collection features a diverse group of more than 40 artists predominately active in the United States. It represents a transformative addition to the Museum’s holdings, particularly in works on paper and American art of the last 60 years. The exhibition features more than 200 works selected from this collection.


Focusing on art and artists of their own time, the Simmonses formed a collection that provides a critique of broad social, political, and art historical issues. These include H.C. Westermann’s nightmarish evocations of the Pacific chapter of World War II, Enrique Chagoya’s wide-ranging postcolonial critique, Kiki Smith’s explorations of the body and self as well as environmental concerns, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s forceful foregrounding of Native American history.


Catching the Moment: Contemporary Art from the Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons Collection, June 26-September 11. 

School of Music Professor Geof Bradfield named a City of Chicago Esteemed Artist for 2022

School of Music Professor Geof Bradfield named a City of Chicago Esteemed Artist for 2022

Geof Bradfield, professor jazz studies in the NIU School of Music, has been named one of the City of Chicago’s Esteemed Artists for 2022. Bradfield was one of only four musicians to receive this recognition this year. The award includes $15,000 to use to support any artistic endeavors this calendar year, and Bradfield said he plans to use it to help fund a large ensemble project for the School of Music that he is currently working on.

From the City of Chicago’s announcement:

“Geof Bradfield’s work as a composer and saxophonist embraces intersections of jazz and other streams of African diaspora, drawing inspiration from Charlie Parker, Melba Liston, Lead Belly, Shona mbira and Gullah spirituals. Bradfield has performed nationally and internationally with artists such as Randy Weston, Dana Hall, Clark Sommers, and Jeff Parker. His eight albums have garnered critical accolades from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and NPR. He has received grants and awards from Chamber Music America, DCASE, Illinois Arts Council and the Mellon Foundation.



Arman Sangalang recipient of fellowship from Jazz Institute of Chicago

Arman Sangalang recipient of fellowship from Jazz Institute of Chicago

Arman Sangalang

Arman Sangalang, photo by Harvey Tillis

Arman Sangalang, who just earned his MFA in Jazz Studies from the NIU School of Music is serving a two-year fellowship with the Jazz Institute of Chicago.

Sangalang, a saxophonist and composer, received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University earned the Jazz Links Fellowship, which afforded him the opportunity to receive 75 hours of mentorship with educators and Chicago musicians.

The fellowship is offered annually to two “of the city’s up-and-coming musicians.” The program offers opportunities to learn on the job with Jazz Institute of Chicago mentors and “performance opportunities across the city in communities underserved by the arts.”

Over the course of his two years in the fellowship Arman, and his co-award winner Alexis Lombre, will receive 70 hours of mentorship including 25 hours with a mentor of his choice, 25 hours with a veteran jazz educator and 10 hours of mentorship in music business and finances.

“So far, the best part of it has been the mentorship,” Sangalang said. “I’ve worked with a bassist, Matt Ulery, and we’ve been working on composition and just overall, he’s been just guiding me in terms of how to book gigs in Chicago, things to be aware of in the city. Has been very, very fruitful in that aspect. And then we worked with a Chicago educator, Phillip Castleberry, who taught for over 20 years in Chicago, leading one of the jazz bands at Lincoln Park High School. His knowledge of Chicago and just education in general has been really inspiring to see and listen to.”