NIU Voices: Fall slate of arts events underway

Northern Illinois University College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Paul Kassel.
Northern Illinois University College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Paul Kassel.

One of the most important and fulfilling parts of being the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University is witnessing our accomplishments firsthand as we continue to build on our mission of bringing audiences to the arts and arts to audiences.

With more than 300 live concerts, productions and exhibitions every year produced by our School of Art and Design, our School of Music and our School of Theatre and Dance, our students have opportunities to perform and display their talents, all the while helping to enrich the culture of our community.

If you have never attended an arts event at NIU, I welcome you to do so, and if you have, I heartily welcome you back. We boast an immensely talented group of students in each of our colleges, led by a world-class roster of faculty, who in addition to being educators, are accomplished artists themselves.

Our fall season is well underway.

In music, come see concerts by any of our professional level jazz groups, concert bands, choral groups, percussion ensembles, opera theater and world music, which includes, but is in no way limited to, the world-famous NIU Steelband. Our steelband was the first of its kind at any university in the United States and maintains the standard by which all others are judged.

On Nov. 3, Cor Cantiamo, our choral ensemble in residence, will have a special concert featuring a work commissioned through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Verdad, a 15-minute piece focused on the experiences of Central American immigrants entering the United States, is the result of that commissioning project with acclaimed composer Libby Larsen.

Be sure to check out our New Music Festival, with performances each evening over four nights from Nov. 5-8. Our fall slate wraps up with a pair of seasonal performances. The Swingin’ in the Holidays jazz concert on Dec. 1 and the 22nd annual Holiday Choral Concert, Dec. 8.

The School of Theatre and Dance continues to select works to take full advantage of their renovated home in the Stevens Building. I hope you take the opportunity to attend a show or two in this beautiful facility. Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida” is one of his most rarely produced, but surprisingly modern plays. “Walk Across Mother Earth” by MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipient Taylor Mac and Kafka’s “Castle,” a devised work based on Franz Kafka’s works are two of the shows in our Studio Series. The Fall 2019 Dance Concert, always a crowd favorite, wraps up the fall Theatre and Dance season.

There are a great many opportunities to step on campus and enjoy some of the finest and most imaginative artwork, anywhere. Treat yourself to the amazing work of students in the School of Art and Design in the galleries of Jack Arends Hall, which will include the High School Invitational from Nov. 3-16 and our Bachelor of Fine Arts student show Dec. 2-11.

The NIU Art Museum is located in the castle, Altgeld Hall, and we have extended the powerful “Exploring Aspects of War In and Through the Visual Arts” exhibition through Nov. 13.

The best way to keep up with everything is to visit our Arts Blog at There you will find information on all of our upcoming performance and events, purchase tickets, and read stories about our accomplished students, alumni and faculty. See you at the show(s)!

• Paul Kassel is the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University.

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