Music alum Matt Novack composes music for new Netflix series

Music alum Matt Novack composes music for new Netflix series

Matt Novack, a 2002 graduate of the NIU School of Music with a degree in music composition, served as the music composer for the new Netflix series Murderville. 

Murderville is a comedy starring Will Arnett with improvised elements, including a new guest star homicide detective trainee of the week. The guest star is the only person in the cast who doesn’t know the plot of that episode and has to try to figure out who committed that week’s murder. Guest stars in season one included Conan O’Brien, Kumail Nanjiani, Sharon Stone, Annie Murphy, Ken Jeong and former NFL star Marshawn Lynch. Murderville is based on a BBC Series, Murder in Successville. 

Novack has also composed music for series like Parks and Recreation, Children’s Hospital, Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, Harley Quinn, the Amy Poehler-Paul Rudd romantic comedy spoof They Came Together, the video game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Be A Viking, and the award winning documentary State of Pride.

In an interview with Bleeding Cool, Novack explained how he approached writing music for some of the show’s more suspenseful moments.

“You start minimally. You start building tension and give it a base to explode from. Like if you’re having a horror sting like a shock, like a screeching violin or a cymbal crash or something or brass blast. They work so much better if you’re coming from a foundation of just simmering tension.”

Novack earned a graduate certificate in scoring for motion pictures and television from the University of Southern California.


School of Theatre and Dance presents “The Conference of the Birds” April 1-3, 7-9

School of Theatre and Dance presents “The Conference of the Birds” April 1-3, 7-9

The Conference of the Birds, a play based on a twelfth century Suffi poem that follows a group of birds on a spiritual quest for enlightenment, is presented by the NIU School of Theatre and Dance April 1-3 and 7-9 in the Black Box Theatre of the Stevens Building. This lyrical adventure fantasy play unfolds through figurative language, movement, and dance.

Tickets are on sale online, and NIU students can attend free of charge with a pre-reserved ticket. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 1, Saturday, April 2, Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8, with 2 p.m. matinees Sunday, April 3 and Saturday, April 9.

Cast Bios

Wesley Hutchinson (Attar) is a junior BFA Acting candidate and this is his fourth show at Northern Illinois University. He has acted in “Love and Information,” “Everybody,” “Summer Nights,” and “Twelfth Night” here at NIU. Mr. Hutchinson is very honored to be in such a connected piece this semester and to share it all with you.


Kristen SerbiaKristen Serbia (Hoopo) is a sophomore BFA Acting candidate and is so very glad to be making her debut at Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre and Dance. Her previous credits include Brenda in a staged reading of “La Ruta” by Isaac Gomez, Grusha in “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” by Bertolt Brecht, and an ensemble member in Anna in the “Tropics” by Nilo Cruz. She is honored to be creating art on the stage and growing as an artist during such dark and uncertain times. She would also like to dedicate this performance to her family and friends. Jeremiah 29:11

Matthew JuddMatthew Judd (Osprey) is a junior BFA Acting candidate in his third show at Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre and Dance. He has acted at Moraine Valley Community College, Oak Lawn Park District, Alsip Park District and Alan B. Shepard High School. Judd was seen in NIU’s productions of “Love and Information” directed by Frankie DiCiaccio, and “Twelfth Night, Or, What You Will” directed by Bethany Mangum.
He is very excited to be part of this very eye opening and journey of s elf-production. Judd is excited to show a different style of his acting and is thankful for everyone he got to work with on this beautiful piece of theatre.

Jack GordonJack Gordon (Golden Pheasant) is a second-year BFA Acting candidate who is thrilled to be in his first live show at NIU. Before becoming a Huskie, Jack did shows in high school and community theaters in Utah; one of his favorite shows being SCERA Theater’s “Elf the Musical” (multiple roles). Prior to choosing acting, Jack competed as a gymnast for over a decade. Jack wants to thank his incredible family, friends, professors, cast, crew, and the creative team for supporting his journey of “being the bird.”


Seamus FleischmannSeamus Fleischman (Duck) a third-year BFA Acting candidate, is feeling funky and fresh for this fabulously eclectic show. He could previously be seen last year in NIU’s productions of “Love and Information” and “Town Hall,” and this past fall in movement extravaganza “Edward the Second.” He hopes this mystical show is your idea of a hooting time.


Jonathan PerkinsJonathan Perkins (Eagle) is a sophomore BFA in Acting candidate and is ecstatic to make his NIU debut with this wonderful show! He is also a voice actor, recently being heard in Congo Square Theatre’s new audio series, “The Clinic as Shad,” directed by Daniel Bryant. He was also a performance committee intern for Congo Square. Jonathan is so honored to have been graced by his lovely cast’s artistry and hopes that the push-ups from every rehearsal have made them all extremely muscular. Much love to everyone involved and, of course, the countless hours of birdwatching.

Cristian OnateCristian Onate (Nightingale) is an actor and dancer. He has performed with the Goodman Theater’s PlayBuild Intensive as a camp counselor in “From Camp, With Love (devised),” was seen as Aladdin in “Aladdin” at the Greenhouse Theater within Take the Stage, Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” at the Greenhouse Theater within Take the Stage in Chicago. He has also performed as a dancer with the Jones College Prep Mexican Folkloric Troupe.

Emma VaughnEmma Vaughn (Mockingbird) is a sophomore BFA Actor, and this is her first show at NIU. Previously she has worked on shows like “Fuddy Meers” as Gertie and “Angels in America” as Ethel Rosenberg in theatres in her home state of Texas. She also has performed in musicals and has a robust background in music, including studying at NIU as a vocal music minor. Emma is excited to begin her NIU career with this show!


Abigail LamoreauxAbigail Lamoreaux (Goldfinch) is a sophomore pursuing a BFA in Acting. This is her first production onstage at NIU, previously having run wardrobe for NIU’s “Edward II,” and first live production since 2019. Past credits include “Mary Poppins,” “On the Verge,” “Silent Sky,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “In Transit.” “Thank you to Cecilie for pushing me into leadership roles I otherwise wouldn’t have taken. I deeply appreciate your faith in me!”


Finn StumpfFinn Stumpf (Owl) is a junior BA Theatre Studies student and digital artist from Ottawa, Ill. This is their first time acting in a show here at NIU. Previously at NIU, they were the assistant director of “Edward II,” and recent acting credits include: Slank in “Peter and the Starcatcher” and Philostrate in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Finn hopes that you find this show a “hooting time.”


Lulu GreyLulu Grey (Parrot) is a senior BA Theatre Studies candidate. Previous roles include Valentine in NIU SoTD’s “Twelfth Night,” Mona (Then) in Stage Coach Players’ “Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean,” and Bakkhai in “Bakkhai.” She is thrilled to welcome you to her sixth and final show at NIU, and she hopes you will enjoy!


Jacob IhmJacob Ihm (Loon) is a second-year transfer student. Going for a second degree as a theatre studies major. Currently working on writing a play for their capstone project. Jacob would like to thank his family and friends for helping him through the dark times and celebrating the good times.


Morgan MalloryMorgan Mallory (Heron) is a third year BA Theatre Studies student and she is very excited to be a part of this production of “The Conference of the Birds.” Some other things she has been a part of are Northern Illinois University’s productions of “Edward ll” and “Everybody,” as well as Crete Monee High School’s production of “Mamma Mia.” She hopes that you all will enjoy the show.


Kay MartinovichKay Martinovich (The Herald) is a professional theater director based in Chicago, where she has directed for Remy Bumppo Theatre, City Lit, Trap Door Theatre, and Irish Repertory of Chicago, among others. She is associate professor, head of performance and head of BFA acting in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance. Kay teaches Meisner-based acting, audition technique, professional development for the actor, and introduction to performance. Other classes she has taught are directing I and II (devising), Irish drama, and aesthetics of performance. She is a proud member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), the professional union for directors.

Production Team Bios

Cecile Keenan (Director) is a freelance director, producer and writer, active in the Chicago Theater Community for over 20 years. She works with many theaters to assist with their creative and administrative practices and is dedicated to emerging artists. Cecilie assisted Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater on a full dance program on immigration titled “American Catracho.”

She was the co-writer with Nicholas Patricca for a new play with jazz about Langston Hughes entitled, “Chasing the Wind.” Other recent work includes co-writing and directing “My Dream Act,” a solo show with a young woman who is undocumented. Keenan has directed on many stages including The Goodman Theater, Collaboraction, American Blues, Artistic Home, ACT and Teatro Vista where she served as Producing Director for nine years. She also served as artistic director at Bailiwick Repertory where she started the Director’s Festival, 11 Minutes Max and directed many award winning productions. Cecilie held the position of producing director at Chicago’s Apple Tree Theater and before that, associate artistic director at Northlight Theater. Cecilie has received many awards for directing and ensemble work, as well as a TCG Observership to Mexico and several NEA and Foundation Grants and Individual Artist Grants from DCASE to develop or produce new plays, playwriting festivals or collaborate with theaters internationally. She has taught theater and theater creation in Chicago, Minneapolis and Oaxaca, Mexico.

Danielle Reinhardt (Costume Designer) is a second-year MFA in costume design candidate from Sycamore, Ill. This past fall she designed the costumes for NIU’s production of “Edward II.” Prior to coming to NIU, she created the costumes for Stage Coach Players’ performance of “The Little Mermaid” (Egyptian Theatre) as well as the independent film “The White Horse is Dead.” Danielle has also earned her MBA at Elmhurst University and is a senior brand manager for Ultra PRO Entertainment. Her motto is to never stop learning and never stop dreaming.

Ben Werner (Sound Designer) is a fourth year BFA design and technology candidate, focusing on sound and lighting. “The Conference of the Birds” is Ben’s fifth show here at NIU. His previous NIU credits include sound design for “Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” and “Angels in America,” assistant sound designer for Fall Dance Concert 2019, and assistant sound designer for “The Time of Your Life.” Ben has also worked with Northern Sky Theater in Door County, Wisc. for the past three years where he has held the position of audio technician and was given the opportunity to design
six shows.

Anyah Randolph (Assistant Director) is an actress and makeup artist from Joliet, Ill. Currently a BA student at NIU, Anyah has received many awards and an associate degree from Lincoln College. She has worked in many areas of the theatre including onstage with acting, scenery design, lighting, dramaturgy and directing for both Lincoln College and NIU school productions. She wishes to pursue acting after her education will officially finish her studies in May 2022.

Luke Harmon (Stage Manager) is ecstatic to be back in the booth at NIU. A recent graduate, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Design and Technology in the spring of 2021. Stage management credits include “Romeo and Juliet” (Kane Repertory Theatre), “Bike America,” “The Time of Your Life,” “Troilus and Cressida,” “Le Corsaire” (NIU), “Noises Off!,” “Little Women the Musical” (Stage Coach Players). Luke has previously worked as an assistant stage manager for the Elgin Visual and Performing Arts Center and as a technical coordinator for the Children’s Community Theater of DeKalb. When outside of the theater, Luke works as a supply chain coordinator for a large manufacturer.

Production Team

Sahin Sahinoglu – Scenic Coordinator
Kallen Eckert – Scene Shop Supervisor
Skylar Revell – Scenic Charge
Taneya Ball, Franki Mastrone, Kalan Stewart, Arlana Williams, George Curtis – Run Crew
Jeremy W. Floyd – Costume Design Advisor
Lori Hartenhoff – Costume Director
Clare Ritchey-Kaplan – Costume Shop Supervisor
Gabby Gozdecki, Cole Dale, Chance Lira, Ma’Reeco Russell, Brenda Sifuentes, Raenna Temethic, Avery Flores – Wardrobe Crew
Brandon Wardell – Lighting Design Advisor
Chris Kurszewski – Lighting Shop Supervisor
David Doherty – Properties Director
Hernan Acosta – Properties Manager
Tracy Nunnally – Production Designer
Ethan Rosing – Production Manager
Ethan Rosing – Stage Manager Advisor
Tómas Dakan – House Manager Supervisor
Emma Vaughn – Music/Vocal Coordinator
Jack Gordan – Movement Research and Coordination
Vincent J. Augustine – Graphic Design Concepts for Program and Publicity

Special thanks to: Kay Martinovich, Bethany Mangum, Stanton Davis, Mango, Deeze




School of Music’s Gregory Beyer releases third album with non-profit organization, Arcomusical

School of Music’s Gregory Beyer releases third album with non-profit organization, Arcomusical

Arcomusical Emigre and Exile


Arcomusical release partyNIU School of Music Professor Gregory Beyer, Director of Percussion Studies in the School of Music, is the artistic director of Arcomusical, a DeKalb-based non-profit with a mission to spread the joy of the berimbau Afro-Brazilian musical bow. Since 2016, the organization has strived to achieve this mission through performance, education, composition, publication, research, and community building activities. Several of the ensemble’s performing members are alumni or current students of the NIU School of Music percussion program.

On March 25, Arcomusical released its third album project, Emigre and Exile on the New York City-based contemporary music label, New Focus Recordings. Featuring boundlessly adventurous music by four composers: Matt UleryAlexandre LunsquiJeremy Muller, and Beyer himself, this special album celebrates the berimbau in multi-instrumental contexts in a broader fashion than Arcomusical presented in its first two albums, MeiaMeia and Spinning in the Wheel.

The album’s anchor and feature is the epic six-movement title composition by Chicago-based composer and jazz bassist, Matt Ulery. Ulery’s presence as both performer and composer of Emigre and Exile delivers a warmth of tone and spirit that is utterly engrossing.

Already, the album is garnering national attention, having been picked up and currently featured on the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) New Music Friday Spotify playlist.

Arcomusical will celebrate the release of this album, Sunday, April 3 at 8:30 p.m. at Chicago’s wonderful new music club, Constellation. If you happen to be in or near the city, consider joining their celebration which features many special guest artists and promises to be an unforgettable experience.

NIU Art Museum hosts silent auction to diversify its collection

NIU Art Museum hosts silent auction to diversify its collection

Library auctionThe Northern Illinois University Art Museum will be hosting a silent benefit auction of small art pieces. The goal is to raise funds to make targeted purchases to diversify the collection. With the intention of reflecting the changing demographics of the university and the region more accurately, this auction will raise funds to purchase artwork from the Brandywine Print Workshop, a diversity-driven printmaking studio selling underrepresented artists’ work.

The auction display and bidding will run from April 5 to May 6 in the museum’s North Gallery during normal gallery hours with bidding ending at 2 p.m. Friday, May 6. Artworks for sale include paintings, photographs, prints and sculpture with work by contemporary local favorites such as David Driesbach and Jay Ryan, and historical master draftspersons such as Honoré Daumier and Françisco Goya.

The last time funding was available for making targeted acquisitions for the museum was in the early 1980s, when the Illinois Arts Council Agency briefly provided resources for growing museum collections. A wonderfully eclectic, but admittedly unfocused collection has resulted from the generous largesse of individual donors. “As the collection has grown over the years, we are able to curate not just our exhibitions but our collection…we can focus on areas of strength and alleviate weaknesses,” said museum director Jo Burke. “But to be clear, the museum is not selling or deaccessioning anything from the existing collection, but inclusively adding to it.”

In support of diversification of the collection, several artists from the NIU School of Art and Design faculty and teaching staff (Michael Barnes, Sasha Bitzer, Jessica Labatte, Nina Rizzo, John Siblik, Kryssi Staikidis, Ben Stone, Peter Van Ael and Shei Chau Wang), the staff of the NIU Art Museum (Jo Burke and Peter Olson) and anonymous members of the Friends of the NIU Art Museum have donated pieces of their own artwork or from their personal collections as objects for us to auction. If you would like to assist the NIU Art Museum in this cause, please make a financial donation or bid on an artwork to add to your own collection.

COVID-19 Visitor Information

The Art Museum will follow the latest recommendations from university, local, state and federal guidance. Feeling sick or unwell? We ask anyone feeling unwell to postpone their visit for another time. Visitors are welcome on campus, but we ask that you take the same precautions we ask of our students, faculty and staff to protect yourself and others. For more information about the university’s health protocols and guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, see We encourage everyone to continue wearing a mask. However, we respect each individual’s choice. We ask that you are respectful of one another’s space as well as choice. Please continue to practice physical distancing between individuals and family groups.

About the NIU Art Museum

Serving Campus and Community by Balancing Traditional and Contemporary Art to Explore the Connections Made through Visual Culture.

Part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts‘ vibrant and active arts community on campus, the Northern Illinois University Art Museum is a resource for the NIU campus, local community and beyond. Have our event announcements and program information delivered directly to your inbox. Sign up at

The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, at the corner of College Avenue and Castle Drive on the main campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. Those using GPS can find us at 595 College Avenue, DeKalb.

Parking is available in the visitor pay lot located at 200 Carroll Avenue. Limited metered and accessible parking spaces are available in front of Lowden Hall with accessible aisles and route to Altgeld Hall. Campus parking is free on weekends and after 5 p.m. weeknights in nearby lots 3 and 14.

To request disability-related accommodations for museum programs:  please contact the museum at least one week in advance. Northern Illinois University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

The exhibitions and programs of the NIU Art Museum are sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency; the Friends of the NIU Art Museum; the NIU Arts and Culture Fee, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Season Presenting Sponsor Shaw Media.

Gallery Hours

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday
Noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday
Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and by limited appointment for group tours
Closed university holidays and between exhibitions.


NIU photography students best world record holder for largest paper snowflake

NIU photography students best world record holder for largest paper snowflake

NIU School of Art and Design students in ARTD 464 Advanced Photography: Post Production created a paper snowflake that measured 44 feet, six inches, besting the current Guinness of Book of World Record of 20 feet and one half inch. The students, led by Jessica Labatte, associate professor and head of the photography department toiled for more than ten hours laying out, tracing, cutting and folding the snowflake on the floor of the NIU Convocation Center.

They will submit the official supporting materials to Guinness to have their new world record certified.

NIU’s Opera Theatre presents “The Happy Prince” and a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, April 1 and 3

NIU’s Opera Theatre presents “The Happy Prince” and a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, April 1 and 3

Northern Illinois University will present both the one-act opera The Happy Prince and a tribute to American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim with performances Friday, April 1 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 3 at 3 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the NIU Music Building. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for non-NIU students and NIU students are free with a pre-reserved ticket or ID. Tickets may be purchased online.

Both performances will be livestreamed on the School of Music website.

The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince is based on a short story by Oscar Wilde.

From the composer:

“The story concerns a statue, golden and bejeweled, which has been erected above a town, in memory of a rich and happy prince. A swallow, off to hibernate in Egypt, stops for the night at the foot of the statue, and feels tears on her head. Looking up she sees that the statue of the prince is weeping over the world’s misery and poverty, which in life he was never able to see. Three times he implores the swallow to pluck jewels from his body and to take them to poor and needy citizens, then to strip the gold from his body and throw it to the starving children in the street below. All the time it is growing colder. The prince is blind and ugly now. The swallow is too weak of fly to Egypt, but anyway she loves her prince too much to leave his feet. Stretching up to kiss his lips, she dies; and the statue’s lead heart cracks. The mayor and citizens who erected the statue come and take it down since its decorative value no longer exists, and with some disgust they move the swallow’s body away, the lot to be burned. As the flames rise, alarmed voices exclaim that the broken, leaden heart will not burn. A choir of angels above the flames tells the citizens that the leaden heart and the dead bird are the most precious things in the city.”

Stage direction for this production was done by AJ Wester, instructor of voice and director of Opera Theatre in the NIU School of Music. The music director and composer is Heewon Cha, graduate research assistant in the School of Music. Production design by Terry McClellan director of the NIU School of Theatre and Dance and Rachel Seabaugh, graduate teaching assistant in the School of Theatre and Dance. The choral director is Eric Johnson, professor of music and coordinator of choral activities in the School of Music.


Anya Newsome – Prince
Abria Shaw – Swallow
Boone Elledge – The Mayor
Steffi Delgado – The Seamstress
Emelia Barrera – Her Son
Evi Combs – A Rich Girl
David Capp – The Author
Kasey Pennington – The Matchgirl
Grace Pagliaro, Kyara Chisolm, Evi Combs, Emelia Barrera – Four Angels


Phoebe Shaughnessy, Alexa Garza, Ranan Antonini, Jaqueline Scavetta, Dayoung Park, David Czechut, Jennalynn Cisna, Yeeung Jang

Sondheim Celebration

The Sondheim Celebration features NIU students performing songs from classic Sondheim musicals.
The script was written by Savannah-Lee Mumford, a graduate student in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance.
Stage direction by AJ Wester and piano by Heewon Cha.

West Side Story
Somewhere – Evangelina Combs

You Gotta Get a Gimmick – Katherine Drury, Kyara Chisolm, Savannah-Lee Mumford, Kasey Pennington

Anyone Can Whistle
There Won’t Be Trumpets – 
Savannah-Lee Mumford

Evening Primrose
I Remember – Paul Kassel, Dean, NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts

You Could Drive a Person Crazy – 
Evangelina Combs, Katherine Drury, Kyara Chisolm

Not Getting Married – Grace Pagliaro, Evangelina Combs, Ethan Gonzales

Another 100 People – Kyara Chisolm

A Little Night Music
Everyday a Little Death – Savannah-Lee Mumford and Abria Shaw

The Frogs
Invocation and Advice for the Audience

Sweeney Todd
There Was a Barber and His Wife – Boone Elledge

Johanna – Ethan Gonzales

Merrily We Roll Along
Our Time – Concert Choir

Sunday in the Park with George
Sunday – NIU Concert Choir

I Am Unworthy of Your Love – Kasey Pennington, Emelia Barrera

Loving You – Anya Newsome