Brass Chamber Music
Brass Chamber Music opportunities include Brass quintet, quartet and trios that are coached regularly by faculty. These ensembles perform on campus, prepare repertoire for NIU Brass Convocations, the NIU Brass Honors recital, NIU Chamber Music and Concerto Competitions.
Mixed chamber ensembles featuring brass and instruments outside the brass family are also encouraged and receive faculty coaching. Some specific ensembles include Trumpet ensemble, which meets weekly with concurrent ensembles from 4 to 10 trumpets and prepares for entry into the Ensemble Division of the National Trumpet Competition, Trombone Choir and quartets.
String Chamber Music
Chamber music is highly valued by the entire string faculty as a central component in one’s development into a well-rounded musician.
Spearheaded by the acclaimed Avalon String Quartet, the program is offering the opportunity to become such a well-rounded musician through an intense chamber ensemble experience. Students will be able to build and improve score study and interpretational skills, learning to play as an integrated ensemble, as well as refining their leadership skills.
Regular times will be reserved for chamber groups to rehearse in preparation for weekly coaching. Throughout the semester, there are multiple convocations led by the string faculty during which students perform for each other and are encouraged to give constructive criticism of each other’s performances.
Various performance opportunities are available on and off campus throughout the year, as well as a chance to compete in the annual Chamber Ensemble Competition which allows the winners to present a program at the WNIJ-WNIU radio stations. Students will be encouraged to seek out other performance opportunities throughout the community which gives them the chance to develop important music business skills.
Graduate String Quartet
The Graduate String Quartet-in-Residence program began in 1982 under the tutelage of the world-famous Vermeer String Quartet, the members of which were NIU resident artist faculty until their retirement in 2007. The program is now continuing with the Avalon String Quartet, who were participants in the program in 1996-97 and are now our faculty quartet-in-residence.
A single graduate quartet is selected by competitive audition, and the individual members are admitted to the Master of Music or Performer's Certificate by the School of Music. Each member is awarded a full tuition waiver for the period of the residency (up to two years). Since the program's inception, a number of young quartets have participated, and many have gone on to managed professional careers and/or artists-in-residence appointments at other universities.
Woodwind Chamber Music
Coaching from woodwind faculty is available for woodwind quintet or other woodwind chamber ensembles. Chamber groups perform regularly on campus and have the opportunity to play in the annual Chamber Music Competition.
New Music Ensemble
Created in 2008 by its director, Gregory Beyer, the New Music Ensemble (NME) is a performance group dedicated to the historically groundbreaking music of the 20th Century and the emerging musical voices of the 21st Century. Each fall, the ensemble presents a multi-concert festival featuring prominent guest composers, performers, and thematically connected compositions to expose students and the NIU community to excellence and diversity in contemporary classical music-making.
With its flexible instrumentation allowing it to present diverse repertoire, the NME has to date presented concerts of music by Steve Reich, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Olivier Messiaen, Alex Mincek, Eric Wubbels, Kate Soper, Shulamit Ran and David M. Gordon, Luciano Berio, George Crumb, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, Erik Griswold, Anthony Pateras, Gerard Grisey, Fred Sturm, Matt Ulery, Christopher Adler, David Lang, Dawn of MIDI, and many others. At its festivals, student members of the NME have interacted directly with many of these composers and have performed alongside luminous guest artists such as James Falzone, Wet Ink Ensemble (NYC), Yarn/Wire (NYC), Clocked Out Duo (Australia), Matt Ulery and Loom, Dane Richeson and Marco Albonetti, and the nief-norf Project.