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Concert reunites musicians from past 15 years

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Provided photo)
The CSA Sinfonia is pictured on the Concert Hall stage in the Northern Illinois University Music Building in spring 2013. The group will give a reunion concert on Saturday.

More than 100 players will fill the Concert Hall stage at 3 p.m. Sunday for the CSA Sinfonia Reunion Concert. Alumni from the 15-year history of the orchestra are returning to perform with current members and with guest performer Liam Teague. The concert has been planned as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the NIU Community School of the Arts.

Linc Smelser has directed the group since 1996. The ensemble began as a string orchestra in 1993, directed by Arthur Montzka, a high school orchestra director and the conductor of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble became a full orchestra in 1999 and has had more than 300 local high school musicians as members.

The performance on Sunday illustrates the breadth of the players’ skills and includes “Mars” from “The Planets” by Holst, “St. Paul’s Suite” by Holst, “Les Preludes” by Liszt, and “Russlan and Ludmilla” by Glinka. The three works with steelpan and orchestra are “Winter” from “The Four Seasons” by Vivaldi, “Tico Tico” by de Abreu, and “Triplets” by G.H. Green.

Soloist Liam Teague is hailed as the “Paganini of the Steelpan,” and currently serves as associate professor of steelpan and co-director of the steelband at Northern Illinois University, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. He has received many awards in his homeland, Trinidad and Tobago, including championships, for his ability on the steelpan, violin and recorder. Teague’s commitment to demonstrating the great musical possibilities of the steelpan have taken him to Europe, Asia, North and Central America and the Caribbean. He has recorded six CDs.

Linc Smelser is a cello teacher for the NIU Community School of the Arts and Wheaton College and is the musical director of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He also directs a string ensemble, CSA Symphonette, for the community school.

The NIU Community School of the Arts has provided arts education to community people since 1988. Thousands of local children and adults from as many as 50 different towns and cities have participated in lessons and classes in music, art and theater, as well as music ensembles.

There will be a free-will donation for the scholarship programs at the reunion concert. The NIU Community School of the Arts has two scholarship programs, for need and talent, and awards more than $3,000 a year.

More information about the program and the CSA Sinfonia Reunion Concert is available by calling 815-753-1450 or at www.csa.niu.edu.

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