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.
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.
Coaching from brass faculty is available for a brass quintet or other brass chamber ensembles. Chamber groups perform regularly on campus and have the opportunity to play in the annual Chamber Music Competition.
Dedicated to exploring vocal and instrumental repertories before 1750, the Early Music Ensemble (EME) offers both a chamber experience and an introduction to historically-informed performance to undergraduates and graduate students alike. Members of EME have the opportunity to play historical instruments, from rebec and viola da gamba to recorders and percussion, and to learn new styles and techniques appropriate to music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. EME presents two full-length concerts a year with occasional performances in the community.
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.