NIU Community School of the Arts' Students Featured in Chicago Festival

Aaron Brancato

Hanna Bingham

CSA Children's Choir

The NIU Community School of the Arts is pleased to announce that two area high school soloists and the CSA Children’s Choir are participating in the 2011 Chicago Youth in Music Festival this spring.

NIU School of Music director Paul Bauer has been an advisor for the project. “I am very excited that the NIU Community School of the Arts has been invited to be a part of 2011 Chicago Youth in Music Festival. This invitation is an acknowledgement of the value and quality of the student experiences in the community school at NIU.”

Aaron Brancato of Sycamore and Hanna Bingham of DeKalb join young musicians from other programs in the Chicago area to become members of the Festival Orchestra. The orchestra plays at the Festival Kick-off on May 5 and participates in a rehearsal with legendary Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti on May 9 on the stage of Orchestra Hall.

Aaron Brancato is a junior at Sycamore High School. He is the son of Kathy and George Brancato. He studies cello with NIU faculty member Linc Smelser, is a long-time member of CSA Sinfonia, and was a 2011 winner of a community school talent scholarship award.

Hanna Bingham is a sophomore at DeKalb High School. She is the daughter of Naoko and Art Bingham. She studies violin with Blaise Magniere, NIU violin professor and first violinist with the Avalon String Quartet. She plays with the CSA Sinfonia and has received the community school talent scholarship award twice in past years. She was the 2010 winner of the CSA Sinfonia Concerto Competition.

Other organizations from which students were selected for the Festival Orchestra are the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, DePaul University School of Music Community Music Division, Merit School of Music, Music Institute of Chicago, Midwest Young Artists, New Music School, and Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College Chicago.

The CSA Children’s Choir, directed by NIU faculty member Mary Lynn Doherty, has been invited to join the Chicago Children's Choir and the Morelia Children's Choir of Mexico for a choral workshop on May 14.

This is an opportunity for the 22-member choir to sing and to listen to others. Hosted by the Chicago Children’s Choir, the event is scheduled from 1 – 3 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center. The CSA Children’s Choir travels by NIU bus to Chicago for a day of music and sight-seeing.

Director Mary Lynn Doherty says, “The CSA Children's Choir is very lucky to be participating in the Festival. I think the children will find that the music shines a spotlight on what they have in common with each other. The beauty of this shared musical experience will not only impact their musicianship, it will also influence them to see the world differently.”

The Chicago Youth in Music Festival is sponsored by the Institute for Learning, Access, and Training at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. By celebrating the achievements of young musicians, the Festival aims to extend and deepen the engagement of youth in music and to foster visibility and strengthen ties among local youth music providers. The activities of the festival have been guided by Riccardo Muti and Yo-Yo Ma. A complete schedule of events of the Festival is available at

More information about the NIU Community School of the Arts is available at or call Renee Page at (815) 753-1450. The program is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at NIU.

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