Those looking to make a difference at NIU have a new tool to help raise much-needed financial support. NIU Impact, the NIU Foundation’s new crowdfunding program at http://crowdfund.niu.edu and features ten campaigns.
One of those campaigns is “Curtain Call! – Support Graduating Senior Arts Projects” to assist with the funding of capstone projects and industry standard portfolio and audition materials for students in the College of Visual Performing Arts as they prepare to start their exciting careers in the arts.
Here’s an example of just one of the senior arts projects funding could benefit.
The crowdfunding campaign for supporting arts students will run through May 10, with a goal of raising $2,000 for students in each of three schools that makes up the College of Visual and Performing Arts (College of Art and Design, College of Music, College of Theatre and Dance.)
The NIU Foundation has experienced significant growth in its digital giving program, seeing an increase of over 100% from fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2020 in dollars raised. “In 2018, we raised nearly $290,000 through digital giving ,” shares Michael Adzovic, Director of the Northern Fund. “Last year, in 2020, we raised $580,000. Already, in fiscal year 2021, we’ve raised $683,000.”
Much of this growth can be attributed to the NIU Foundation’s Day of Giving program implemented in 2019, but other factors have fueled growth as well.
“The pandemic has been a factor,” shares Adzovic. “We’ve relied more on digital giving opportunities during this season and have found that many people are comfortable and prefer giving online. This is the future of our direct response program.”
That growth has inspired the NIU Foundation’s new crowdfunding program.
How Crowdfunding Works
Crowdfunding is not new, of course. This method of raising funds has been common for years, popularized through sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe. However, it has just recently become popular in higher education fundraising.
“We see great potential in crowdfunding at NIU,” shares Adzovic. “The platform allows us to work with campus partners to conduct targeted, goal-oriented and time-sensitive campaigns that harness the power of volunteers and their individual networks.”
A key difference between crowdfunding and the NIU Foundation’s traditional methods of fundraising is that crowdfunding is driven primarily by volunteers reaching out and amplifying a cause to their individual networks, as opposed to communications being institutionally driven. The dollar goal for crowdfunding campaigns tends to be smaller—commonly between $3,000-$5,000. These funds usually support very specific initiatives, such as student travel to conferences, research projects, and scholarships. The duration of a typical campaign is four weeks.
“We see crowdfunding being a great fit for many of our campus partners to fund needs for which we wouldn’t normally fundraise through traditional methods,” shares Adzovic. “We also view it as an excellent way to attract new donors to NIU.”
Reggie Thomas, professor of music and head of jazz studies and his wife, jazz vocalist Mardra Thomas are part of the cast of characters and performers in the immersive, online musical experience, “Into the Mist” developed by Evanston artist Steve Rashid.
As the spring semester nears an end, the NIU School of Music presents a special Wind Symphony concert that will not only showcase the hard work of NIU students, but will also feature a pair of premieres of newly composed music.
The concert will feature the world premiere of a composition by Tom Bough, professor of music, Wind Symphony conductor and director of Athletic Bands at NIU. Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Trombone features a trombone solo by Andrew Glendening, director of the NIU School of Music.
Impulse Control: Concerto for Drum Set and Wind Ensemble, composed by Evan Ziporyn, will have its Illinois premiere, with a drumset solo by Dan Piccolo, assistant professor of percussion at Bowling Green University.
Also featured will be Ballet for Band by Cindy McTee, conducted by Ben Randecker, graduate assistant, NIU Bands, and Soul to Soul, by Quinn Mason, conducted by Annie Sun Chung, graduate assistant, NIU Bands.
Dan Piccolo has performed, taught, and studied internationally during his twenty-year professional career. He is currently Assistant Professor of Percussion in Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts.
Dan holds both a DMA and BM in Percussion Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and during his Master’s studies in U of M’s Jazz Department he focused on improvisation. He has studied concert percussion with Michael Udow, Salvatore Rabbio, Joseph Gramley and Jonathan Ovalle, among others, and his drum set and improvisation teachers have included Michael Gould, Steve Curry, and Ed Sarath. Dan is also skilled in several forms of non-Western percussion, having studied frame drumming with Jamey Haddad and tabla with Pandit Kuber Nath Mishra in multiple visits to Varanasi, India. A grant from the University of Michigan’s International Institute funded the first of these visits, and he returned to Varanasi in the winter of 2015 thanks to an award from the Presser Foundation. An additional award from U of M’s International Institute made it possible for Dan to begin formal studies of West African music in Ghana in the summer of 2014. From 2014 to 2019 Dan served as a member of the Percussive Arts Society’s World Percussion Committee, and he currently serves as Associate Editor for Professional Development for the Society’s journal, Percussive Notes.
Dan’s debut solo recording, Monobot, was released on the Equilibrium Recordings label in December 2020. In October 2019 Dan gave the world premiere of Evan Ziporyn’s concerto for drum set and wind ensemble, Impulse Control, which written was written for Dan and for which he led the commissioning consortium. Dan has also premiered works by Emma O’Halloran, Jonathan Ovalle, Payton MacDonald, and Anthony Di Sanza, as well as his own compositions, and he continues to actively work with composers to commission new solo and ensemble works for percussion.
Composer/conductor/clarinetist Evan Ziporyn‘s music has taken him from Balinese temples to concert halls around the world.
He has composed for and collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Brooklyn Rider, Maya Beiser, Ethel, Anna Sofie Von Otter, the American Composers Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Iva Bittova, Terry Riley, Don Byron, Wu Man, and Bang on a Can. In 2017, his arrangements were featured on Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War, and on Silkroad’s Grammy-winning album Sing Me Home.
Most recently, his orchestral reimagining of David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, was recently released on Islandia Music, featuring Ziporyn conducting his own Ambient Orchestra with Maya Beiser, cello soloist. Since its 2017 premiere, Ziporyn has conducted the work in Boston, Barcelona, New York Central Park Summerstage, Australia’s Adelaide Fringe Festival, Strathmore Hall, and numerous other national and international venues.
Thomas Bough serves as the Director of Athletic Bands and Wind Symphony Conductor at Northern Illinois University. His 29 years of teaching experience includes 7 years as a high school band director. As a Yamaha artist, he leads dozens of clinics and workshops per year. He has presented three times at the Midwest Clinic and dozens of state music education association meetings around the United States.
As an author, he has contributed twenty articles to the Instrumentalist magazine and hundreds of new music reviews. His compositions are published by Alfred Music, Cimarron Music Press and others. Visit his website at www.TomBough.com to hear excerpts of his many compositions for concert band, marching band, and solo instrumentalists with band accompaniment.
Andrew Glendening is the Director of the School of Music and Professor of Music at Northern Illinois University. A native of Logansport, Indiana, he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Trombone Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music before attending Indiana University, where he was awarded the school’s highest honor: the Performer’s Certificate. He also earned a Master of Music degree and was the first ever recipient of the Doctor of Music degree in Trombone Performance from the Indiana University School of Music. His primary teachers were M. Dee Stewart, Per Brevig, Thomas Cramer, and Frank Crisafulli. For fifteen seasons he served as Principal Trombonist of the Redlands Symphony Orchestra and has performed as a substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and the California Philharmonic. Six of Dr. Glendening’s trombone students have won the U.S. Army Band National Solo Competition. Dr. Glendening was host and artistic advisor for the 2017 International Trombone Festival and has performed, judged and/or presented at the International Trombone Festivals in Cleveland, Illinois, North Texas, Eastman, Iowa and Ball State as well as the 2019 International Women’s Brass Festival.
The Third Zodiac International Music Competition aims to discover exceptional musical talent, both in performance and composition, from across the globe, and bring it to the stage of the Zodiac Music Academy & Festival in the South of France and New York.
The competition invites artists from all parts of the world to participate via recorded video submission (or score submission for composers).
Maki’s entry in the competition is a Bagatelle he wrote for the Avalon String Quartet, internationally renowned artists in residence at the School of Music.
For Jermaine Stegall, composing the music for the long-awaited sequel to the Eddie Murphy hit movie “Coming To America” came with a set of challenges, seen and unforeseen, but the final product reflects a film where music is as much of a character as any of the recognizable faces on the screen.
Stegall is a 2000 graduate of the NIU School of Music with a Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance and composition. He went on to earn a master’s at North Texas University and completed the University of Southern California’s Advanced Studies in Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program.
His process for “Coming 2 America” started with creating demos for the cast and crew to use as they shot.
“There are a lot of musical moments in the film,” Stegall said. “The director, Craig Brewer, is very musical, and he loves music. He always uses music very purposefully, and he mentioned he would love the opportunity to use themes in the movie. We dove straight in with having very distinct sounds for the very specific characters, as well as giving a nod to some recognizable music from the first film, specifically the song, ‘Coming To America.'”
Music was a huge part of the original movie, but the sequel takes it even farther. “They literally needed music to shoot to on set,” he said. “There are dance sequences, and there are percussionists on set. I was given the nod to the things they were going to need and I read the script. Based on those descriptions, I ended up creating music that ended up working. Sometimes it might be a groove that was similar to a song that’s coming up, or to set something up in that way, or even a choir that you see on screen.”
Photo: Jermaine Stegall
Major portions of the movie are set in a fictional African country, and being on set helped Stegall immerse himself. “You walk onto that set and feel like, OK, I’m not just on the set, I’m in this place called Zamunda. We’re here. We’re in a place you can actually touch. The producers talked a lot about having a distinctive sound for Zamunda, and the sky was the limit.”
Stegall got his first assembled cut of the film in January 2020, not yet aware of how COVID-19 would affect the rest of his process. The film was originally scheduled to open around Christmas 2020, and that date continued to be the goal as restrictions due to the pandemic were put in place.
“We spent February talking about themes and March is when I started tackling entire scenes of the movie and making decisions about how a scene would work as opposed to, here’s some music, let’s see how it fits,” he said. “But then as it came time to record, I was told I’d would have to record all of my woodwinds at home, then drums, percussion, bass, guitar, harp all had to be recorded at home. I had this idea for using a choir to do African chants, which you hear in the film, but it ended up being a more intimate approach. I used five vocalists, and they had to record at home. Then I had to assemble all the different elements. You really want your woodwinds to compliment strings in terms of how they’re used in an orchestral setting. But the safety protocols meant they had to be separate. So, we had Zoom calls with each section that had to record remotely. The string section had to be separate from our brass. They had to be recorded on different days. Every member of the orchestra had to get tested for COVID and our director couldn’t attend the sessions.
“Our music editors are basically essential workers in the scoring process. They had to watch via Zoom and chime in. They’re people who are responsible for making sure we’re getting all the takes that we need, all the energy that we need from a certain story point, like giving advice about how the cue came across in terms of recording.”
When Stegall says everyone was recording “at home,” he means just that.
“I was in North Hollywood where my studio is,” he said. “The performers, some of them were in their bedrooms. One of our flute players was on an island in Hawaii. Some hired engineers to help run their session, control their computer from another location. This was a massive, massive project. It definitely took a village to raise a child as it pertained to this score.”
Former NIU School of Music student Donald Barrett (1996-1998) is a featured drummer playing drums/African drum kit on the score.
As with many major movies, “Coming 2 America” is not getting a theatrical release. Instead it will premiere March 5 on Amazon Prime Video. But Stegall said he’s not necessarily disappointed the film isn’t getting a traditional release.
“This movie would have killed it in theaters in terms of how it plays with an audience,” he said. “But we are able to share it with millions of people, as opposed to the current limitations of a theatrical release with 25% capacity.”
Stegall also contributed music to the Kurt Russell film “Christmas Chronicles 2” that premiered on Netflix in December. He had worked on the original film, as well. Next up for him is a supernatural thriller for Universal Pictures. “It’s a complete 180 from the comedic, romantic, sweeping fantasy movie that we’ve just done. I think it’s sure to turn heads. It will include my love of sound manipulation, instruments not sounding like their true selves and probably be a little bit scary, too.”
Stegall looks back at his time at NIU and is appreciative of the support he received from faculty and other students.
“I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know quite how to get there. That’s the biggest mystery. You’re in the Midwest and working on the coast is what you want to do. How do you get there?”
He charted his path to Hollywood from NIU, with a necessary detour. “A lot of the NIU music faculty had gone to the University of North Texas. So when it didn’t work out to go straight to USC after undergrad, I was able to go to UNT for my master’s and develop the portfolio I needed.”
Stegall fondly remembers the final project of his senior year at NIU. A 30-minute, film music inspired orchestral concert.
Photos: Jermaine Stegall’s March 25, 2000 film music inspired concert at the NIU School of Music. The first half of the concert was held in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall, the second half in the Large Ensemble Room.
“It wasn’t a requirement,” he said. “I just did it as part of my farewell. NIU had the tools available that if you used your brain and a little ingenuity and did some legwork, you could create something special. In my case, this was something I wanted to do. Also, dance was something very important to me, and you can see that in a movie like ‘Coming 2 America.'”
“Before my concert at NIU I went to a dance class. I didn’t know anyone, I just literally knocked on the door during a class. I told them I know it sounds crazy, but I would like some dancers for the introduction to my recital. There was no rehearsal, I just asked them to wear red and show up and when they heard the music to start dancing. Some of the dancers showed up in red and black and it was just magical. That’s a great aspect of studying at a place with all these different kinds of resources. You can create part of your own education. And now, I find myself in situations where we’re shooting and things, musically-speaking are being changed right on set. It all works out when you are willing to take chances. I’ve experienced making things happen with a few talented people by taking risks and trying things and seeing what happens.”
Lamb studied music composition with David Maki, professor and coordinator of theory and composition in the NIU School of Music before going on to earn her master’s in music from Yale University in composition.
Along with Gregory Beyer, professor and director of percussion studies at NIU, Lamb co-founded Projeto Arcomusical, a world music sextet reimagining the Afro-Brazilian berimbau through unique and powerful chamber music.
Harmony Ives, the widow of Charles Ives, bequeathed to the American Academy of Arts and Letters the royalties of Charles Ives’s music, which has enabled the academy to give awards in composition since 1970. Two Charles Ives Fellowships of $15,000 each and six Charles Ives Scholarships of $7,500 each are awarded annually.