Thousands Strong kickoff featured several CVPA students

Thousands Strong kickoff featured several CVPA students

NIU’s annual Thousands Strong day of giving got off to a great start on Wednesday night thanks to the hard work and talents of several students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The kickoff show was hosted by Kate Drury, a BFA acting candidate and dance minor from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance.

The musical theme for the show was performed by the NIU Jazz Band and the Alma Mater was performed by the NIU Chamber Choir.

And, one of the students who was part of the surprise scholarship gift reveal was music major Alejandra Hernandez.

Here’s the video from the show:

Give to Thousands Strong to support our students and programs!

David Maki, ’89, One of the Thousands Strong

David Maki, ’89, One of the Thousands Strong

When David Maki, ’89, sets off for a day’s work as NIU’s School of Music’s coordinator of music theory and composition, he knows it will be filled with beautiful melodies.

David MakiTeaching music theory and aural skills classes, as well as private composition lessons, a typical day involves teaching classes in the morning, teaching lessons in the afternoon, and in between attending to service and committee responsibilities for the School of Music and the University.

“I work closely with my colleagues in the School of Music and in the music theory area to ensure our students are succeeding and thriving,” he said. “I keep in touch with composition alumni and help with their careers in any way I can. I am also always working on writing new compositions and finding performance or recording opportunities for my music. Sometimes, I even get to perform on the piano. Basically, I get to do everything I love—teaching, composing, and performing!”

But the most rewarding part of Maki’s role is his interaction with students who are continually learning.

“There are so many wonderful moments of fulfillment or satisfaction in my work—the moment a student grasps a concept that they have been struggling with; watching and enabling a student to pursue an unexpected area of interest; hearing students perform musical works at a high level; seeing the musical and intellectual growth of students over the course of their time here; and finding a new way to explain a concept in the classroom. I’ve also been here long enough that I have had the pleasure of keeping track of many of our students’ careers after NIU,” he said.

Maki believes in his work because of the value of serious musical study in a university setting, which goes beyond preparing students for careers in music.

“It involves high-level, creative thinking, and it requires teamwork in the pursuit of excellence,” he said. “It fosters intellectual curiosity in understanding how music relates to other disciplines and allows for new ways of thinking about human experience. On a larger level, it is about creative human expression, which is something beyond value in our often-fractured society.”

Maki’s respect for musical composition and performance began at an early age. Growing up in suburban Glenview, Illinois, Maki’s parents were both teachers, and their home was always filled with music.

“My dad taught at Buffalo Grove High School (in Buffalo Grove, Illinois), and my mom taught piano lessons from the studio my dad built in our home. She had over 60 students a week, and I started piano lessons at the age of four and continued to study with her into high school. I remember that when my mom finally got some time late in the evening, she would practice the piano herself. I would often fall asleep listening to her play Debussy, Beethoven, Brahms or Schumann,” he said.

Maki’s parents also had concert subscriptions to the Chicago Symphony and they would sometimes bring him along, so music was in integral part of his life as long as he can remember.

Maki had a wonderful mentor at Glenbrook South High School—Dr. William Schnell. One day, when he heard Maki playing the piano during his lunch hour in the choir room, Schnell asked Maki whether he wanted to get more involved beyond playing trumpet in the band. When Maki agreed to do more, his musical career had begun.

“The next thing I knew, I was an accompanist for choir, was singing in the chamber choir, was playing trumpet in district orchestra, and was enrolled in a music theory class,” he said. “I loved music theory and there was a small group of us theory geeks who were interested in continuing our studies beyond the one year. The school was able to create a whole new class just for us to study a second year of theory.”

It was in these classes that Maki and his friends were exposed to composition and encouraged to write music. His new piano teacher, Bea Isaac, suggested Maki study music in college and work with Donald Walker who taught at NIU.

“So, I started looking into NIU and found a program where I could pursue all of my musical interests,” he said. “Unlike other options nearby, NIU had a more affordable tuition rate and had some unique areas of study such as world music.”

Just like many of today’s music majors, Maki had little idea what was in store as he began a degree program in music. He also did not realize how much his time as a student here would set up the course of his life.

“Donald Walker did indeed prove to be an amazing teacher and mentor, shaping my abilities as a performer and musician in ways beyond what I imagined,” he said. “Another NIU teacher who was a great influence was Dr. Jan Bach, professor of composition, who got me to develop a solid compositional technique while also retaining an imaginative and multi-faceted perspective to musical form.”

Music majors spend a lot of time together and, as a result, Maki developed many friendships and professional relationships at NIU that continue to this day. In fact, he met his wife, Alison Maki, ’90, while singing in concert choir. But the connections to NIU do not stop there. Alison’s father Glenn Meeter, was a long-time member of the faculty in the Department of English, and Maki’s brother, Bruce, earned a degree in geology in 1984.

“When I went on to graduate school at the University of Iowa and the University of Michigan, I realized how well my time at NIU had prepared me,” he said. “For one thing, because of the rigorous study in music theory and history classes, I was able to test out of all graduate review classes in those subjects.”

When Maki joined the NIU faculty in 2002, his former instructors became his colleagues and friends, and the NIU connection deepened.

“I am forever grateful for their dual impacts on my career, first as teachers, then as incredibly supportive colleagues who helped me navigate the challenges of beginning a career in academia,” he said. “I try to maintain their high standards and commitment to teaching, scholarship and artistry.”

This connection has pushed Maki to contribute to his alma mater in other ways, as a way of giving back to the institution that gave him so much.

“My wife and I want to support NIU in changing the lives of students and providing opportunities for others,” he said. “Some of our contributions have gone to honoring former faculty, such as Dr. Jan Bach, and to starting a modest fund in the English Department in the name of Alison’s parents, Dr. Glenn and Mrs. Marlene Meeter.

“We have decided to give back financially to NIU because we are grateful for the opportunities and experiences that NIU has provided to us.”

Thousands Strong is an opportunity for alumni and friends to engage with NIU in an exciting, virtual initiative that will increase and expand alumni pride and engagement, cultivate donor prospects and celebrate the impact of philanthropy at Northern Illinois University. This year, this day of giving’s virtual initiative will start the evening of Nov. 10 and run through Nov. 11, with a variety of opportunities to help students and the University.

Second annual Thousands Strong event begins Nov. 10 at 5:30 pm

Second annual Thousands Strong event begins Nov. 10 at 5:30 pm

Thousands Strong is an opportunity for alumni and friends to engage with NIU in an exciting, virtual initiative that will increase and expand alumni pride and engagement, and celebrate the impact of philanthropy at Northern Illinois University. This year, this day of giving virtual initiative will start the evening of Nov. 10 and run through Nov. 11, with a variety of opportunities to help students and the University.

The phrase Thousands Strong comes from a line in the University’s alma mater, “Hail, NIU.” Written by NIU professors Wilbur Smith and Orville Baker, these words are as powerful now as when they were crafted nearly 60 years ago. NIU alumni, faculty, staff, parents and friends show up when there are students in need, and that has been especially true during the challenging past year and a half of the pandemic.

You can support the initiatives of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, which include putting the crowdfunding campaign over the top for three amazing Steelpan Studies graduate students from Trinidad and Tobago.

Last November, during the inaugural Thousands Strong day of giving initiative, donors provided more than 2,000 gifts to the NIU Foundation for a total of more than $2 million. This year, Thousands Strong will include a special kickoff presentation, where you will be able to see philanthropy in action and how the generosity of donors changes and transforms lives. The NIU Foundation hopes to build on last year’s successful event and provide even more support to NIU students and University programs.

In addition to donors, the event will rely on volunteers in the form of Thousands Strong ambassadors who help promote Thousands Strong to their family, friends and colleagues. Last year, 111 Thousands Strong ambassadors helped spread the word and their work helped generate 217 gifts of more than $30,000 in donations. You can sign up to be a Thousands Strong ambassador by clicking here.

As the event nears, stay tuned to the Thousands Strong day of giving website and to NIU social media accounts for more information.

Concerto Competition Final Round – November 6

Concerto Competition Final Round – November 6

A long running tradition continues when the NIU School of Music holds the final round of its annual Concerto Competition, Saturday, November 6 in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. Performances start at 4 p.m. Admission is free of charge.

Here are the performers and times:

4:00 p.m. Amanda Perez, Viola  
Roberto Sierra Viola Concerto
Song Ahhae, Piano Accompaniment

4:07 p.m. Ian Rigg, Trombone
Gordon Jacob Concerto for Trombone 1st movement
Song Ahhae, Piano Accompaniment

4:15 p.m. Alex Hassib, Trombone
Henri Tomasi Trombone Concerto
Heewon Cha, Piano Accompaniment

4:24 p.m. Annika Roberts, Cello   
Dmitri Shostakovich Cello Concerto 1st movement 
Heewon Cha, Piano Accompaniment

4:32 p.m. Crystal Bragg, Flute   
Charles Griffes Poem 
Heewon Cha, Piano Accompaniment

4:43 p.m. David Coons, Oboe  
Johan Wenzel Kalliwoda Concertino for Oboe Con Fuoco Adagio, Vivace
Song Ahhae, Piano Accompaniment


5:10 p.m. Zachary Green, Viola
Bela Bartok Viola Concerto 1st movement              
Song Ahhae, Piano Accompaniment

5:23 p.m. Abria Shaw, Voice
W.A.Mozart “Ach, ich fühl’s” and “In uomini, in soldati”
Joy Hyounkyoung Kim, Piano Accompaniment

5:31p.m. Nicholas Haddock, Alto Saxophone
Alexandre Glazunov Concerto in Eb Major 1st movement
Elizabeth Vaughan, Piano Accompaniment

5:46 p.m. Mitchell Nelson, Trumpet
Alexandra Pahkmutova Trumpet Concerto
Ting Yun Wu, Piano Accompaniment

6:00 p.m. Gianna Capobianco, Flute
Jaques Ibert Concerto for Flute and Orchestra 3rd movement
Joy Hyounkyoung Kim, Piano Accompaniment

6:10 p.m. Andrea Newsome, Voice
G.F.Handel “Cara Spoza” from Rinaldo, Georges Bizet “Sequidilla” from Carmen
Joy Hyounkyoung Kim, Piano Accompaniment

6:20 p.m. Jury deliberation


NIU Steelpan students crowdfunding receives attention in Trinidad and Tobago

NIU Steelpan students crowdfunding receives attention in Trinidad and Tobago

A crowdfunding campaign supported by the NIU School of Music and the NIU Foundation to help support the expenses of three NIU Steelpan Studies graduate studies from Trinidad and Tobago was recently featured in their home country’s largest newspaper, The Guardian.

Joshua Bedeau, Jalen Charles and Rashunda Dorset-Headley know the challenges of being international students, but the three are not letting them stand in the way of pursuing their master of music degrees with an emphasis in Steelpan Studies.

With about ten days remaining, the crowdfunding project had generated more than $4,200 in donations, but was still not at the halfway point. The three students will use those funds to cover the costs of their health insurance and living expenses as they work towards degrees that they plan to use to change and impact the steelband community in their homeland and all over the world.

You can support the three students through the JJR Steelpan Relief fund by donating online. The relief fund will help aid Joshua, Jalen, and Rashunda (JJR) in their educational journey, and allow them to fully focus on their degree and make the best out of every opportunity.