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.

Pokorny Low Brass Seminar brought musicians from all over the country to NIU this summer

Pokorny Low Brass Seminar brought musicians from all over the country to NIU this summer

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.

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“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.”

NIU Art Museum opens exhibitions that examine refugees and global humanitarian crises

NIU Art Museum opens exhibitions that examine refugees and global humanitarian crises

The Northern Illinois University Art Museum’s exhibition Refuge and Refugee as well as The Art of Surviving: The Journey of the Karen Refugees in Illinois organized by the Center for Burma Studies at NIU opens in the Art Museum’s Altgeld Hall galleries Tuesday, August 24 and runs through November 12. The exhibitions examine refugee experiences through recreations of home, glimpses of refugee camps, artifacts, textiles, oral histories and photographs as well as contemporary art media grappling with international refugee and immigration crises.

RefugeeRefuge and Refugee
The work of ten artists including one from the Museum’s permanent collection are presented in an examination of the global humanitarian crises as displaced persons forced to flee their native countries attempt to find refuge elsewhere. The artists, moved by current events and news reports, express their shock, horror, and critique of government polices as well as compassion for those impacted by these measures. Several of the artists with immigrant backgrounds relate their own struggles with identity to the inner struggle of missing home and attempting to adapt to a new land. Artists were selected from a national call for entry by the exhibition advisory committee and include: Luciana Abait, Karen Albanese Campbell, Yolanda del Amo, Tere Garcia, Judith Joseph, Rebecca Keller, Eddy A. López, Stephen Walt and Kathy Weaver.

The Art of Surviving: The Journey of the Karen Refugees in Illinois
This exhibition is based on work done by NIU PhD and MA students who either lived within the refugee camps along the Burma-Thai border or who worked with Illinois Karen Refugee communities for the last 15 years.  The exhibit looks at life in Burma, life in the refugee camp and life in the United States. The Karen, an ethnic group in southern Burma/Myanmar, has been in conflict with the government since 1949 first calling for an independent state and now representation in national government. During the decades-long conflict and violent military persecution many Karen escaped to refugee camps and/or resettled to a third country.  The exhibition ties the minority Karen refugee experience to a global perspective, engaging visitors in a critical dialogue on forced migration and displacement and what visitors can do to advocate for local refugee communities.

A full calendar of events including in-person, hybrid, Zoom virtual program URLs, as well as current COVID-19 visitor guidance may be found by visiting

Calendar of Events

Thursday, September 2 – Hybrid Event
Curator’s Talk: The Making of the Exhibition
Curator Catherine Raymond, Ph.D. NIU professor of Art History, director of the Center for Burma Studies, and curator of the Burma Art collection will introduce two NIU alumni whose work inspired this exhibit. Thomas Rhoden, Ph.D. Political Science 2017, who lived for five years within the refugee camps along the Thai Burmese border. Karla Findley, MA Anthropology 2017, who has worked with Illinois Karen Refugee communities for the last 15 years. They will share their experience and the process of making this exhibition happen with the participation of the Aurora Karen community.
6 – 7 p.m. CDT; In-person with limited seating: Altgeld Hall 125
Join Zoom Meeting:

Friday, September 10 – Virtual Event
Albany Park: The Generational Impact of Refugees and Migrant Communities
Chicago’s Albany Park, home to various refugee and migrant groups throughout its long history, has been shaped by the achievements and contributions of the many groups who called it home. Saidouri Zomaya, MA candidate in Anthropology at NIU, will discuss the impact of generations of refugees and migrants who have left a lasting mark on this community, ranging from the hospital and university to the various community centers that serve families from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
5 – 6 p.m. CDT
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Thursday, September 23 – Hybrid Event
New Humanitarianism: Wars, State-Building, and Globalism
NIU Department of Sociology Professor Abu Bah addresses issues of human security, human rights, and democracy in the context of new wars and terrorism warfare through a global and regional lens. Drawing upon research and publications covering two decades of work on African and international security and governance issues, key questions to be addressed are: what are the roots of civil wars and terrorism warfare? What are the interconnections between state security and human security? How do countries and world powers respond to security challenges and the responsibility to protect vulnerable populations? How does the politics of nativism challenge global society?
5 – 6 p.m. CDT; In-person with limited seating: Altgeld Hall 125
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Wednesday, September 29 – Virtual Event
Representing Refugee Experience: What’s at Stake
A panel discussion with artists Yolanda del Amo and Eddie A. López.  Heide Fehrenbach, Board of Trustees Professor, NIU History Department will moderate a discussion with artist and professor Yolanda del Amo (Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ) and artist and professor Eddy A. López (Bucknell University Lewisburg, PA) regarding refugee identity and image.
5 – 6 p.m. CDT
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Thursday, September 30 – Hybrid Event
Living in Confinement
Keynote speakers facilitated by Karla Findley, NIU MA Anthropology 2017, with members of the Burmese Karen refugee community of Aurora who will share their experiences of living in refugee camps before coming to the U.S.
5 – 6 p.m. CDT; In-person with limited seating: Altgeld Hall 125
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Thursday, October 7 – Hybrid Event
The Declining Situation of Refugees in the World
Laura Heideman, Associate Professor, NIU Departments of Sociology and Nonprofit and NGO Studies whose research interest includes the role non-governmental organizations play in peace building will consider the current refugee situation in the world today:  what it means to be a refugee; who cares for (or fails to care for) refugees; and why the situation in the past few years has been particularly uncertain.
5 – 6 p.m. CDT; In-person with limited seating: Altgeld Hall 125
Join Zoom Meeting:\

Exhibition Support

Artwork for Refuge and Refugee is on loan from the exhibiting artists and selected from the NIU Art Museum permanent collection. The Art of Surviving: The Journey of the Karen Refugees in Illinois, organized by the Center for Burma Studies at NIU, was made possible through financial support provided by a Henry Luce Foundation grant and includes artifacts from the Burma Art Collection at NIU and on loan from NIU MA 2017 Anthropology alumna Karla Findley and members of the area Karen community.

COVID-19 Visitor Information

The Art Museum will follow the latest recommendations from university, local, state and federal guidance. Please review our current directions for visitors before planning your visit Programming and gallery hours are subject to changes, additions or cancelations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeling sick or unwell? We ask anyone feeling unwell to postpone their visit for another time. Visitors are welcome on campus, but we ask that you take the same precautions we ask our students, faculty and staff to protect yourself and others. Current practice is for all persons over two to be masked indoors.


Art and Design returns to face-to-face exhibitions with “re-Emerge”

Art and Design returns to face-to-face exhibitions with “re-Emerge”

Re-emergeAfter nearly a year and a half without face to face exhibits the School of Art and Design is excited to host re-Emerge, an exhibition of work by recent alumni in the School of Art and Design at the historic Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb, during Corn Fest, August 27 – 29.

“This exhibit features selected works from our 2020 and 2021 BA and BS in Art alumni,” said John Siblik, associate professor and coordinator of the bachelor’s degree programs in art. “While we had an outstanding experience working remotely, building a virtual exhibit together, and preparing for careers in the arts, it is wonderful to host these alumni and celebrate their accomplishments. I look forward to witnessing the continued impact our recent alumni make on our communities.

“Corn Fest serves as a homecoming of sorts for the DeKalb and NIU community,” he said. “We look forward to catching up with everyone during this exhibit and at the same time celebrate the renovations just completed at the historic Egyptian Theater in downtown DeKalb during.”

Re-Emerge: the exhibit featuring recent gradates from the Bachelor of Art and Bachelor of Science programs in Art coincides with Corn Fest in DeKalb, August 27-29.

Exhibition dates:
Friday, August 27, 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
*Saturday, August 28, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, August 29, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
* – A reception will held Saturday from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. drinks will be available for purchase



Poster design by 2021 BS in Art alumni Christopher Broek