Volume XVIII - May 2023


The end of the academic year and commencement is the perfect time to take a moment to reflect and celebrate the success of our students across the Department of Music and Dance!


Congratulations to our students who graduate today! Your dedication and hard work have paid dividends to your success! I and the rest of our faculty and staff look forward to celebrating each of you as you proudly walk across the stage—and we can hardly wait to see your impact on the greater music community in the years to come.


Commencement is really a time to look forward and our Department of Music and Dance is looking forward to an ambitious summer filled with summer courses, concerts, and events, and planning for the next academic year. Be on the lookout for email updates for events where all of us: current students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the department can come together and be in community with one another. 


In closing, I would like to thank each and every one of you that makes NEIU Music and Dance a wonderful place to learn, work, and create art: from the students that are working hard to reach their goals; to faculty that are committed to their student's success; the staff that makes everything run smoothly; and the alumni, family, and friends that support us financially and cheers us on in the audience. We are a community that believes in the value of the arts, and it is an honor to partner with all of you to make the world a better place through music and dance!



Dr. Christopher Owen

Acting Chair, Department of Music and Dance


Anokyewaa Oppong Wadie has qualified for the finals of the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM) scholarship competition performing the music of Samuel Barber and William Grant Still. Anokyewaa will be traveling to Dallas, TX in July to take part in the NANM national conference and compete for the grand prize and we send her with hearty NEIU best wishes!

A few words from Anokyewaa about the experience: "Before I write about my experience with the National Association of Negro Musicians String Competition, I want to give a special thanks to Dr. Jaime Gorgojo who was incredibly insightful and encouraging during this journey, and has pushed me in the right ways in able to see and feel meaningful results in my performance. Also, I want to thank my family for their undying support and uplifting words and actions that have gotten me this far. My appreciation for you all is immeasurable! Finally, I want to give a huge thanks to our wonderful music department! Colleagues, friends, professors, and everyone who makes my musical environment so amazing, I thank you all!! 

In December of 2022, I got a phone call from someone representing the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Negro Musicians, asking if I would like to participate in their upcoming string competition in the spring. Without hesitation, I said yes, and immediately I began working towards the repertoire I was going to play for this competition. Just a few weeks later, at the beginning of 2023, Dr. Gorgojo and I began thoroughly preparing for this competition. I enjoyed this experience, as it gave me a goal to work towards, as well as a new perspective on performance preparation. As the semester moved forward, we came closer and closer to the date, and in April I finally got to compete against two other contestants. After I performed Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto and William Grant Still's Suite for Violin and Piano II: Mother and Child the judges deliberated for about an hour. I am happy to announce that I won 1st place in the competition, and I have been advanced to the final round which will be in Dallas, Texas in July. I cannot wait to represent Chicago amongst other amazing black string players this summer, and I am really honored to represent NEIU!"


We are very excited to share the exciting news of the installation of a new streaming system in our Jewel Box Recital Hall here at NEIU. This technology is a meaningful enhancement of an already-impressive space, and we are grateful to our colleagues in Media Services who have taken the lead on testing this new system. We are looking forward to being able to expand our ability to share the tremendous work of our students and faculty with a wider audience. As we look ahead to next season, we’ll be trying this new capability out, so be on the lookout for announcements of specific concerts that we expect to be able to stream live to an audience across Chicago and all over the world. 

Jewel Box Series: House of Hamill

Friday, May 19 at 7:30pm | Recital Hall | neiu.edu/tickets

Rose’s band Burning Bridget Cleary was scheduled to perform, but inclement weather prevented two of her bandmates from flying. Desperate to salvage the showcase, Rose approached Brian, who she knew fronted Canadian Celtic rock band Enter the Haggis. She thrust a guitar into Brian’s hands, pulled him onstage, and the two just clicked. Four years and hundreds of shows later, the duo was booked to play a closing slot at a Colorado festival, so they hired a bass player and drummer to fill out their sound. By the oddest of coincidences, their hired bandmates’ flights were canceled the day of the show. A frantic Facebook post introduced Brian and Rose to local musician Caroline Browning, who joined them on bass for the weekend. Once again, the chemistry was undeniable, and House of Hamill became a trio. Today, Pennsylvania-based House of Hamill is a fixture on festival stages across the US, and have shared their music and stories on the country’s premier folk stages. Their version of “Pound a Week Rise” rose to #1 on the US Folk DJ charts, and the video for their all-violin cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” amassed over 16 million views on Facebook, where it was shared over 400,000 times. Their latest release, “Folk Hero,” captures perfectly the frenetic energy and eclecticism of their always engaging live show. A lively collection of original instrumentals, reimagined folk ballads, and new songs that showcase the trio’s versatility, “Folk Hero” is the third House of Hamill album to be funded entirely by their fans. Whether they’re ripping through a set of original jigs and reels, adding lush three-part harmonies into traditional folk ballads, or cracking up an audience with stories from the road, House of Hamill puts on a show that captivates audiences from the very first note.

An Evening of Musical Rarities

with Pianist Jamie Shaak and Friends

Friday, June 2 at 7:30pm | Recital Hall | Free and Open to the Public

An Evening of Musical Rarities with pianist Jamie Shaak and friends Michelle Areyzaga, Maria Lagios, the Kontras Quartet, Elizandro Garcia Montoya and Grace Hong. The program features works by Lee Hoiby, Jake Heggie, Miguel Del Aguila, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Chicago-based composer Stacy Garrop. Music for voice, piano, oboe, clarinet quintet and small ensemble for a new work featuring Lee Hoiby’s piano concerto slow movement “ Lento Espressivo”. With music by Living American composers Stacy Garrop, Miguel Del Aguila, Jake Heggie and Jamie Shaak. Performances of rarely heard music by Lee Hoiby and Samuel Coleridge -Taylor. Maria Lagios will read the poem Renascence by Edna St Vincent Millay with music set by Jamie Shaak. This premiere performance will bring to life the poem that put Millay front and center to American readers in 1912 when Ms. Millay was only 19 years old.


July 29 - August 5, 2023

Applications are open for the 2023 edition of the Chicago Chamber Music Festival, directed by NEIU Music faculty members Dr. Jaime Gorgojo and Dr. Susan Tang. This summer CCMF celebrates 10 years of providing high level solo and chamber music instruction to some of Chicago's most talented and dedicated student pianists and string players. Be on the lookout for more detailed information about public performances on Saturday, July 29; Wednesday, August 2; and Saturday, August 5.


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