Joshua Bedeau, Jalen Charles and Rashunda Dorset-Headley knew that it would be expensive as international graduate students studying in America, but they are committed to fulfilling their potential and earning their degrees. They hope to use these advanced degrees to help change and effect the steelband community in their homeland and in the world at large.
The steelpan was invented in Trinidad and Tobago and NIU is the pre-eminent place to study the instrument in the United States. The JJR (Joshua, Jean and Rashunda) Relief Fund will help aid the three students and allow them to fully focus on their degree and make the best out of every opportunity.
A live choral concert with a chance for the community to sing-a-long at various points, promises to be a fun-filled afternoon at the newly renovated Egyptian Theatre, September 19 at 3 p.m. “The Big Sing” features local choral ensembles Cor Cantiamo, the Northern Illinois University Concert Choir and the concert choirs from DeKalb High School and Sycamore High School.
“The Big Sing” will celebrate the passion and artistry of choral ensembles in the DeKalb County area and welcome audiences back to live performances.
“We are all so excited to return to live concerts and share our music again with in-person audiences,” says Dr. Johnson. “This will be a great opportunity for the community to come experience the power of live music and learn about all the wonderful choirs we have in our county.”
Each choir will perform a 12-15 minute solo concert and in between the choir performances, the audience will be asked to join in community sing-alongs led by different participating conductors.
Cor Cantiamo is a professional chamber choir whose creative programming and artistry weave contemporary music with choral masterworks to present concerts designed to inspire and engage audiences. This ensemble-in-residence at Northern Illinois University School of Music has achieved critical acclaim and recognition for their musicality, impassioned performances, and versatility.
For four days late in July, the NIU Music Building was full of the sounds of some of the best tuba and trombone players from around the country sharing tips, learning new things and enjoying being able to play in person with others for the first time in a while.
NIU was the site of the Pokorny Low Brass Seminar, a regular event brought to DeKalb by Andrew Glendening, the director of the NIU School of Music who hosted similar seminars when he was in charge of the music program at the University of Redlands in California.
The first such seminar at NIU was scheduled to happen in 2020, but was postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 100 artists from around the country attended the four day seminar, including professional symphony musicians, freelancers, college teachers, graduate and undergraduate music majors, advanced high school students and dedicated amateurs.
Gene Pokorny, the Arnold Jacobs Principal Tuba Chair of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, was the seminar leader.
“It’s really interesting the way this has evolved,” said Glendening. “Gene has had an incredible career–among a lot other things, he played on the Jurassic Park soundtrack–and we brought him to Redlands to give an honorary doctorate, and we talked about doing a seminar. He wanted to do something different, and it started with just tubas. We had between 20 and 30 for the first one, and it has expanded every year. Bringing it to NIU was a benefit because being in the middle of the country it’s more affordable for students to travel to, and even with the cancellation last year, most every student who signed up then was able to come this time.”
Tim Higgins, principal trombone of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra said he enjoys the opportunity to catch up and play with others in a unique setting. “I’ve been coming to these since 2011, and it’s so much fun to touch base with everyone and meet people from all over the country,” he said. “You rarely get a chance like this. For the students, it’s a huge thing to meet and play and learn from some great people.”
NIU faculty members enjoyed having all that talent come together under their own roof.
“It was my first experience with it, and it really well run,” said Timothy Riordan, instructor of trombone. “It was highly educational for our students with the professionals sharing ideas inside and outside of the seminar. Plus, having 60 trombones playing at the same time was a blast.”
Scott Tegge, instructor of tuba and euphonium said, “Everyone was learning from each other both faculty and students, and it was great for all of us to come together. Many hadn’t played with other people in 16 to 18 months. So it was nice to see people from different parts of the country at different points of their careers coming together to play.”
The School of Music has replaced the chairs as part of an ongoing series of upgrades to the recital hall, and is selling the original chairs through an online store. You can look at photos of all 120 available chairs and select the exact ones you’d like to purchase. The chairs are sold as-is, purchases can be made by credit card only, and shipping or delivery are not available. You must make arrangements to pick up your chairs.
Proceeds from the sale of the chairs will go directly to improvements to student spaces in the Music Building including upgrades to practice rooms and common spaces.
Several ensembles from the Northern Illinois University School of Music will be performing on the Community Stage at this year’s DeKalb Corn Fest. The Community Stage is located in the newly renovated (and air conditioned!) Egyptian Theatre. There is no entry fee and the concession stand and bar will be open.
Banda NIU is a new ensemble at NIU that honors the tradition of the great bandas of the western Mexican statae of Sinaloa. The most popular subgenre of regional Mexican music, Banda relies solely on an instrumentation of wind instruments (unlike Mariachi and Noteño) featuring brass, clarinets, percussion and singers. Banda NIU will kick off the Community Stage performances at 5 p.m., Friday, August 27 at 5 p.m.
NIU World Music Ensembles will perform at 2 p.m., Saturday, August 28.
The NIU Steelband plays at 12:30 p.m., Sunday, August 29, followed by Projeto Arcomusical at 1:15 p.m.
Here’s the full schedule of performances:
Friday, August 27, 2021 5:00 PM – Banda NIU
5:45 PM – Ovation Performing Arts Studio 6:30 PM – Jon Babin
7:15 PM – Huskie Hunks
8:00 PM – Jazz in Progress
Saturday, August 28, 2021 11:00 AM – Cohesion
11:45 AM – Stage Coach Players
12:30 PM – Sycamore/Rochelle Performing Arts Academy
1:15 PM – DeKalb High School Band
2:00 PM – NIU World Music Ensembles
2:45 PM – Dimensions Dance Academy 3:30 PM – CCT
4:15 PM – Ethan Larson
5:00 PM – Live Wire Brass
Sunday, August 29, 2021 11:00 AM – Kishwaukee River Boys Traditional Jazz Band
11:45 AM – Just For Kix DeKalb
12:30 PM – NIU Steelband
1:15 PM – Arcomusical
2:00 PM – Northern Illinois Dance Center
2:45 PM – Beth Fowler School of Dance
3:30 PM – NIU STEAM Demo Show