World Music Festival features six free concerts over five nights

World Music Festival features six free concerts over five nights

The annual World Music Festival in the NIU School of Music features six concerts between April 11 and 16. All concerts are free to attend.

Monday, April 11
Japanese Taiko Concert
Boutell Memorial Concert Hall
7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 13
Chinese Music Concert
Recital Hall
6:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 14
Japanese Shubukai Dance Concert
Recital Hall
11 a.m.

Thai Music Concert
Recital Hall
6:30 p.m.

Friday, April 15
Fusion Concert
Recital Hall
6:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 16
World Music Concert
Boutell Memorial Concert Hall
3 p.m.

The World Music Festival is sponsored by the NIU School of Music, the NIU School of Art and Design, the NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies, the NIU Division of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the NIU Asian American Resource Center.

Steelband concert features guest artists, new songs, old favorites and more

Steelband concert features guest artists, new songs, old favorites and more

The annual spring concert of the NIU Steelband, All-University Steelband, and CSA Steelband features guest vocalists, musicians, the DeKalb High School Steelband, the DeKalb High School Treble Symphonic Choir, Banda NIU, Dance Dimensions Company and more. The concert will be held in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall in the NIU Music Building, Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available online at and are $5 for adults, $3 for non-NIU students and NIU students are free with a pre-reserved ticket.

The NIU Steelband is directed by Liam Teague, NIU Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor, Professor of Music and Head of Steelpan Studies. Yuko Asada, co-directs the NIU Steelband and is the director of the Community School of the Arts (CSA) Steelband. The All-University Steelband is co-directed by graduate assistants Joshua Bedeau and Jalen Charles.

The program includes Reggie Thomas, NIU Professor of Music and Head of Jazz Studies on bass and his wife Mardra Thomas on vocals joining Teague for an arrangement of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s My Funny Valentine.

The NIU Steelband will perform Dreams, written by Teague and dedicated to the legacy of the late Clifford Alexis, who co-founded the Steelband in 1985 with Al O’Connor.

They will be joined by the DeKalb High School Steelband to perform Asada’s arrangement of Bruno Mars’ Leave the Door Open, and by the DeKalb High School Treble Symphonic Choir on Cradle Hymn, adapted by Bedeau and dedicated to the memory of Les Trilla a longtime supporter and benefactor of the steelband.

William Goldenberg, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Head of Keyboard Studies at NIU will perform with the NIU Steelband on Mozart’s Concerto in d minor for piano and orchestra, a piece that will be conducted by Thomas Bough, NIU Professor of Music, Conductor of Wind Symphony and Head of Athletic Bands.

The NIU Steelband will also perform a Roberto De Leon arrangement of Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol’s Caravan, and the DHS Steelband will also perform Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling and Matthew Schneider’s arrangement of Arturo Sandoval’s Mambo Caliente. The School of Music’s newest ensemble Banda NIU will perform De Leon’s arrangement of Banda El Recodo de Don Cruz Lizarraga’s El Toro Mambo. Banda is the most popular subgenre of Mexican music and features brass, clarinets, percussion and singers. Banda NIU is directed by Christopher Scanlon, Assistant Professor of Music.

In a piece conducted by Asada and arranged by NIU alum Abe Breiling, the NIU Steelband will play Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor “Moonlight” as the Dimensions Dance Academy performs.

The world premiere performance of Landscapes, written by Dr. James Gourlay will feature Gourlay on tuba and Teague on steelpan.

The All-University Steelband will perform Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and the CSA Steelband will perform Dr. Ray Holman’s O’ Trinidad, arranged by Asada.

The DeKalb High School Steelband is directed by Steve Lundin. The DeKalb High School Treble Symphonic Choir is directed by Travis Erickson. Miranda Cortes is the director of Dimensions Dance Academy.

NIU Steelband, All-University Steelband, CSA Steelband
Sunday, April 10, 3 p.m.
Boutell Memorial Concert Hall, NIU Music Building
Tickets: Adults $5, Non-NIU Students $3, NIU Students FREE




School of Music online merchandise shop taking orders through April 22

School of Music online merchandise shop taking orders through April 22

The NIU School of Music will offer a variety of branded items like t-shirts, sweatshirts, polos, quarter zips, hats, water bottles, sweatpants and more, through an online merchandise store at: The temporary site will be live until April 22, and then closed down while orders are fulfilled. Orders are available to be shipped or picked up at Sports of All Sorts, located just east of the main NIU campus at between the DeKalb Confectionary and the Egyptian Theatre.

Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the School of Music by Sports of All Sorts.

The site is only open through April 22, so order today.

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 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’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