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NEA grant provides events for local musicians

Events are well under way for this year’s National Endowment for the Arts grant, awarded last fall to the Northern Illinois University Community School of the Arts for the second consecutive year.

The grant provides funding for talented musicians to work with students, teachers and the general public. The community school was invited to apply for the grant, which was awarded through the NEA’s Arts Education in American Communities program. The aim of the program is to extend and expand arts education throughout the United States.

Deborah Booth, director of the community school, worked with NIU faculty members Ann Montzka-Smelser, Mary Lynn Doherty and Greg Barrett to find projects that brought talented individuals to the DeKalb area for public performances, workshops and master classes.

Clarinet Cornucopia

On March 9, attendees of the Clarinet Cornucopia were treated to the performing and teaching talents of William Hudgins, principal clarinetist with the Boston Symphony, and his wife, clarinetist Catherine Hudgins. Seventy local clarinet students and teachers, some from as far away as northern Michigan, attended this year’s event for a day of concerts, master classes, and practice with the popular Cornucopia Choir, directed by Patrick Sheehan.

William R Hudgins has been principal clarinetist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players since 1994. Catherine Hudgins began her career in Caracas, Venezuela, with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Caracas, later holding positions in the Sinfonica Municipal de Caracas, and the Charleston Symphony. Both are active chamber musicians.

CSA Children’s Choir

Throughout spring, the CSA Children’s Choir is rehearsing a composition written for the group by Lee Kesselman. The piece is based on an Emily Dickenson poem and is titled “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” The choir will perform the piece in its premiere on May 15 at 7 p.m. during the choir’s spring recital. The recital is in the Recital Hall of the NIU Music Building and is free and open to the public.

Kesselman is scheduled to be the featured speaker at the annual Working With Children’s Voices series from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 20 in Room 171 Music Building. The talk will be of particular interest to children’s choir directors and choir students, as well as for anyone interested in the topic; it is free and open to the public. Four CPDU’s are available for those who attend the workshop.

A world-famous choral composer, Kesselman has been director of choral activities at College of DuPage since 1981. In addition to his composing, he is a conductor, pianist and teacher. He has developed the New Classic Singers with a love for the vocal art and interests in a great breadth of literature.

Susan Reed Residency

Last fall, folk musician, singer and storyteller Susan Reed performed a family concert for about 50 enthusiastic children and their parents on Nov. 2 and worked with several groups of young musicians as a clinician at the annual NIU Suzuki Workshop on Nov. 3.

The awards are for $10,000, with matching amount expected from NIU.

The NIU Community School of the Arts offers lessons, classes, and ensembles to people of all ages in the northern Illinois area. Teachers are area artists and NIU students and faculty. More information about the community school and about the NEA funding can be found at or by calling 815-753-1450.

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