From wayang to gamelan, NIU presents a Showcase of Southeast Asian Performing Arts, Nov. 5

From wayang to gamelan, NIU presents a Showcase of Southeast Asian Performing Arts, Nov. 5

Ever since last spring’s pandemic shutdown, NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies associate Jui-Ching Wang, professor of world music, looked forward to rescheduling what was going to be a showcase of Southeast Asian performing arts to celebrate NIU’s 125th anniversary year and to mark NIU’s long history with Southeast Asian studies. This free public event is now back on the calendar, set for Friday, November 5, at 7 p.m. CDT in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall in the NIU Music Building on the university’s main campus. In addition, Balinese shadow puppetry expert Jennifer Goodlander of Indiana University and Cambodian composer Chinary Ung of the University of California-San Diego will present two lectures before the event.

The 125th Anniversary Celebration Showcase of Southeast Asian Performing Arts, directed by Wang, will feature wayang kulit puppetry from Indonesia, Thai music and dance, Javanese gamelan, Vietnamese guitar. The performance also features two world premiere contemporary percussion pieces, one by Cambodian composer Chinary Ung, professor of music at the University of California-San Diego, and the other by NIU School of Music alumnus David Gordon. Gregory Breyer, director of percussion studies at NIU, will perform the Ung piece on marimba. He will also direct the Gordon piece, inspired by Javanese gamelan music, performed by the NIU Percussion Ensemble.

The concert leads off with shadow puppetry performed by guest artist Jennifer Goodlander, whose writing and research has been devoted to this art as interpreted in Bali, Indonesia. In her career, Goodlander has performed Balinese wayang kulit at international festivals and around the United States. Other performers include Vietnamese classical guitarist and NIU guitar faculty member An Tran, the NIU Javanese Gamelan Ensemble, the Friends of the Gamelan in Chicago, the NIU Thai Music Ensemble, and the Thai Culture and Fine Arts Institute of Chicago.

In conjunction with the concert will be an opening reception at 6 p.m. for “Looking at Women in Contemporary Burma,” an exhibit of Burmese contemporary art from the Burma Art Collection, on display in the Reynolds Whitney Art Gallery through December 12. The Reynolds Whitney Art Gallery is located in the lobby of the School of Music’s Recital Hall, directly adjacent to the concert hall.

The evening’s events are co-sponsored by the NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies; the Center for Burma Studies; the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the College of Visual and Performing Arts; and the School of Music.

In addition, NIU faculty member An Tran will give a faculty recital at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the Music Building Recital Hall. For information on any of these events, contact Liz Denius at or Jui-Ching Wang at

SE Asian Showcase poster


AAPI Faculty and Staff reception to follow Classical Guitar recital by An Tran, Nov. 16

AAPI Faculty and Staff reception to follow Classical Guitar recital by An Tran, Nov. 16

Immediately following a faculty recital, Tuesday, November 16, by the NIU School of Music’s internationally acclaimed classical guitarist An Tran, an AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) faculty and staff reception will be held in the lobby of the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall in the Music Building. The reception is sponsored by the Asian American Resource Center, the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the Asian American Certificate Program. The reception is open to the public.

The recital begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall (next to the Concert Hall) and Tran will be performing music from Vietnam and around the world. The recital is free of charge thanks to a sponsorship by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. The reception will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Michelle Bringas, director of the Asian American Resource Center said like a lot of events these days, this one had been in the works for a long time. “The four sponsoring units wanted to host an AAPI faculty staff and student reception pre-pandemic but weren’t able to do so,” she said. “An Tran’s guitar recital seemed like the perfect synergistic opportunity to support a fellow colleague and host this reception immediately following the recital.”

Vernese Edghill-Walden, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer at NIU said, “It is an honor to be a co-sponsor for the AAPI reception and we look forward to An Tran’s recital.  In person community events like this are important and have been a joy to be a part of after the many months since the pandemic. I look forward to reconnecting with faculty, staff and students.”

Tran is based in Chicago and has won 13 international and awards. he has been praised for his “gorgeous playing” and “flawless technique” by the KnoxTNToday, and received many accolades for his dynamic artistry including being hailed as a “Vietnamese guitar virtuoso” by Austin Classical Guitar.

Live at Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall,
May 2018, Northwestern University

An Tran joined the faculty in the School of Music in 2020. An Tran started learning the guitar at the age of eight with Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Hai Thoai. Afterward, he received his musical training at the Vietnam National Academy of Music studying with guitarist Vu Viet Cuong. He received his B.A. in Music and the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from North Park University, studying with Julie Goldberg and Tom Zelle and his Master of Music along with the Southeast Asia Studies Fellowship from Yale University, studying with Benjamin Verdery.

Currently a Dorothy and Carl Johnson endowed Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at Northwestern University studying with Anne Waller, An continues to transcend boundaries with his music.

An Tran School of Music Faculty Recital – Classical Guitar Music from Vietnam and Around the World 
Tuesday, November 16, 6:30 p.m.
Recital Hall, Music Building

AAPI Faculty and Staff Reception
Immediately following the recital (approx. 7:30 p.m.)
Boutell Memorial Concert Hall lobby, Music Building

Ninth annual NIU New Music Festival to feature guest composer Regina Harris Baiocchi and Haiku Festival Chicago   

Ninth annual NIU New Music Festival to feature guest composer Regina Harris Baiocchi and Haiku Festival Chicago  


  • A composer portrait of music by Chicago-based composer Regina Harris Baiocchi
  • A night of brand new music in conjunction and celebration with Haiku Festival Chicago
  • Premieres of sixteen new works by NIU student and faculty composers
  • NIU School of Music students and faculty performing alongside one another
  • Works for choir, jazz combo, mixed chamber groups, solo vocalist and instrumentalists, brass quintet, percussion ensemble, marimba and string quintet
  • And more

The Northern Illinois University New Music Festival returns for its ninth year November 3-4. The festival features the music and poetry of Chicago-based composer Regina Harris Baiocchi and offers exciting new music over two nights of concerts in the NIU School of Music’s Boutell Memorial Concert Hall (located in the Music Building on the main campus). Poets from around the country and around the world associated with Harris Baiocchi’s Haiku Festival Chicago will be involved. The evening programs begin at 7 p.m. and tickets are available through the School of Music’s online box office.

On Wednesday, November 3, the festival kicks off with a program featuring the original music by Baiocchi and showcasing her vast and deep oeuvre. Music for percussion ensemble, string ensemble, choir, solo vocalists and instrumentalists, and small jazz groups will all share the stage together to celebrate her talent and skill as a multi-faceted composer. 

On Thursday November 4, Baiocchi will offer an 11 a.m. All-School Convocation, in the concert hall. This presentation is open to the public, and will feature segments of music performed the previous evening to provide examples of her musical output as she shares stories of her career and artistic journey with the School of Music students and community.

That night at 7 p.m., the festival’s second concert will feature performances by members of the Avalon String Quartet and Reggie and Mardra Thomas, as well as brand new original music based upon original haiku by poets associated with and curated by Baiocchi and her 17th annual Haiku Festival Chicago. No less than sixteen exciting and brand new one-minute musical miniatures, either set or are inspired by Regina’s selected poems, have been composed by NIU student and faculty composers alike. NIU student composers include Kyle Anderson, Kayla Bivin, Emily Brown, Daniel Burke, Ethan Featherly, Ben Heppner, Mikaela Jackson, Elena Stavropoulos, Melissa Wang. NIU faculty composers include David Maki, Brian Penkrot, Yuko Asada, Geof Bradfield, Ben Wahlund, and Gregory Beyer.

We encourage the NIU community at large to come out and join us for one or more of our concerts this week! Any questions or comments should be directed to the New Music Ensemble Director, Dr. Gregory Beyer at 815.753.7981 or

Ninth annual NIU New Music Festival
Tickets for each night: $5 for adults, $3 students, NIU students free with pre-reserved ticket
Purchase online

NIU concert performances are broadcast through the School of Music livestream 

ABOUT the NIU New Music Ensemble

 Created in 2008 by its director, Dr. Gregory Beyer, the Northern Illinois University New Music Ensemble is a performance group dedicated to historically groundbreaking music of the 20th Century and the emerging musical voices of the 21st Century. Each fall, the ensemble presents a multi-concert festival featuring prominent guest composers, performers, and thematically connected compositions to expose students and the NIU community to excellence and diversity in contemporary classical music making. With its flexible instrumentation allowing it to present diverse repertoire, the NIU NME has to date presented concerts of music by Steve Reich, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Olivier Messiaen, Alex Mincek, Eric Wubbels, Kate Soper, Shulamit Ran and David M. Gordon, Luciano Berio, George Crumb, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, Erik Griswold, Anthony Pateras, Gerard Grisey, Fred Sturm, Matt Ulery, Christopher Adler, David Lang, Dawn of MIDI, and many others. At its festivals, student members of the NME have interacted directly with many of these composers and have performed alongside luminous guest artists such as Wet Ink Ensemble (NYC), Yarn/Wire (NYC), Clocked Out Duo (Australia), Matt Ulery and Loom, Dane Richeson and Marco Albonetti, and the nief-norf Project. 

Crowdfund established to support three Steelpan grad students from Trinidad and Tobago with their studies

Crowdfund established to support three Steelpan grad students from Trinidad and Tobago with their studies

The NIU Foundation has established a crowdfunding campaign to support three School of Music graduate students from Trinidad and Tobago who are earning their master’s degrees in music with an emphasis in steelpan performance at NIU.

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.

There are several levels of support to choose from at the NIU crowdfunding page to help these three students.

NIU, area high schools present The Big Sing to celebrate choral music

NIU, area high schools present The Big Sing to celebrate choral music

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.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and $5 for children twelve and under. “The Big Sing” is sponsored by the City of DeKalb and the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts.

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.