Showing posts from June, 2010

Music Professor in "Premiere" Performance

Greg Beyer (light blue shirt) on the lake in Central Park

Greg Beyer, professor of percussion in the NIU School of Music, was a featured performer in a recent and noteworthy performance of a significant percussion ensemble work.

"Persephassa" is a work for six percussionists by Greek architect and composer Iannis Xenakis, and was performed in New York City on June 21 at the lake in Central Park. While not a true "premiere" performance, this was the first time, however, that the piece has been performed on and around a lake. "Persephassa" was intended to be performed outdoors, with the performers surrounding the audience, but instead, and more commonly, the piece is performed in concert halls with the traditional stage/audience arrangement.

This performance was part of the fourth annual "Make Music New York" festival. There is a terrific video of the performance, which showcases Greg's performance very well, here.

The performance also earned an e…

School of Music Composer's Works at Noted Venues

Robert Fleisher, Erin Lesser, Steve Voigt

The music of Professor Robert Fleisher of the NIU School of Music has recently been featured at noteworthy venues. Bob's "Loretto Alfresco," a 40-year-old musique concrète (modified natural sound) composition, received multiple performances earlier this month during two New York music festivals. The original (1970) version, lasting just 69 seconds, was heard at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space on June 16 during the annual festival of the American Composers Alliance, founded in 1937 by Aaron Copland and others.

Bob also earned a fine review - in the June 18 issue of the New York Times, reviewer Allan Kozinn wrote: "Loretto Alfresco is endearingly low-tech: its sounds are drawn entirely from recordings of a friend striking pots, pans and other items, which Mr. Fleisher sped up, slowed down and overlaid to create a rich, tactile texture."

While there, Bob also had the pleasure of visiting with our alum, Stev…

School of Music Alumna Named "Jazz Flutist of the Year"

NIU School of Music alumna Nicole Mitchell was awarded the honor "Flutist of the Year" on June 14 by the Jazz Journalists Association. Nicole also received this award in 2008.

Nicole serves as President of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in Chicago, and is a noted composer and band leader as well. In addition to her noteworthy music awards, in 2006 the Chicago Tribune named her "Chicagoan of the Year."

The award ceremony took place in New York City and was attended by more than 300 of the top jazz journalists, record company executives and concert producers in the United States. More information may be found on the Jazz Journalists Association website as well as on Nicole's website.

Congratulations, Nicole!

Avalon String Quartet CD Garners Excellent Reviews

The Avalon String Quartet, in residence at the NIU School of Music, recently released their newest recording, entitled simply "Avalon String Quartet." The quartet received not one but two terrific reviews in the latest issue of renowned Fanfare magazine.

Reviewer Phillip Scott called the Avalon Quartet "impressive," while his colleague, reviewer David Wolman, called them " of the premier quartets of our time...."

The full reviews are currently available online only to Fanfare subscribers. Anyone wishing a copy may contact me directly at

For readers who are here at NIU, the recording is available on campus through Naxos Music Library.

Music Alumna Busy in Hungary

Franny Finstrom, a graduate of the NIU School of Music, has been living, studying and teaching in Hungary since 2008. With a long-term project of studying in an in-depth fashion the teaching and educational philosophies of Zoltán Kodály, Franny is working toward that goal by immersing herself in the culture and the language in order to better understand Kodály's pedagogical principals for music education. Franny teaches English and music in an elementary school in Kecskemét. This fall she will help launch their English bi-lingual program by teaching English conversation as well as teaching a music class in English.

In the summer of 2009 Franny attended the summer seminar at the Kodály Institute where she completed the piano course and studied works of Hungarian composers Kodály, Béla Bartók, and Franz Liszt. Of her study and work in Hungary, Franny says "I am still hard at work thinking about how to realize the pillars of Kodály education in music and other subjects. One thin…

Professor Greg Beyer Earns Terrific Review

Greg Beyer, Associate Professor of Percussion in the NIU School of Music, recently performed in Chicago with ensemble dal niente. The concert earned an outstanding review by Wynne Delacoma in Chicago Classical Review.

In particular, Greg received glowing words for his performance of the first piece on the program, a duo with NIU School of Music alumna Mabel Kwan, for which the reviewer stated "The single-note phrases they etched seemed to hang in the air like aural icicles." The full review may be read here.

NIU Art Graduate Appearing In New Bravo TV Show

John Parot, who earned his BFA degree in Painting from the NIU School of Art, is one of fourteen artists appearing in the new Bravo reality show, "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist." Along the lines of shows such as Design Star, Top Chef and Project Runway, "Work of Art" will show the fourteen artists competing for the top prize which includes a generous cash award and a solo show at the prestigious Brooklyn Museum.

In addition to the main site for the show, a video featuring John can be found here. The series premiere is Wednesday, June 9, at 11 pm Eastern, 10 pm Central. Good Luck, John!

Head of NIU Jazz Studies Appears in London and Online

Ron Carter, the director of jazz studies in the NIU School of Music, has also been a faculty member for the summer program of Jazz At Lincoln Center for many years. This year, JALC will appear for the first time in London at the Barbican Centre, the largest performing arts center in the U.K. Ron will present workshops as well as perform in concert during JALC's week-long residency at Barbican.

In addition, several videos were produced to promote the event, and Ron is prominent in these videos. You can view all of them here, and in the meantime watch one of them below.

NIU Alum Leads Steel Band to Victory in World-wide Competition

Jeannine Remy, who received her Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music degree from the NIU School of Music, led the Sforzata Steel Orchestra to victory this past week in the Pan in the 21st Century competition held in Trinidad. Jeannine is a member of the music faculty at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad, and has been a strong advocate for steel bands and pan performance for nearly 25 years.

An article about the competition and Sforzata may be read here. In addition to Jeannine's arranging the winning composition and directing the band, recent NIU alum Matt Potts performed with Sforzata during the competition. Congratulations Jeannine and Matt!

Here is a video of their winning performance: