Student and Alumni Successes

Current Students

Brandon Bott

Brandon BottBorn in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan, Brandon started playing the drums at age 11. After his family moved to Guangzhou, China, he shifted his classical percussion focus to jazz and started gigging around the country.

He is now a student at Northern Illinois University finishing up his degree in specialized world percussion performance. He has studied with many renowned artists, including Mike Mixtacki on Cuban and Brazilian percussion, Omar al-Musfi on Middle Eastern drumming, Robert Chappell on Indian tabla, Rodrigo Villanueva on drumset, Greg Beyer on concert percussion and berimbau, Ben Wahlund on mallet percussion, Chamni Sripraram on Thai percussion, and Reggie Thomas and Gene Aitken on jazz and swing.

He has shared the stage with artists such as Tony Monaco, Fareed Haque, Bobby Floyd, Liam Teague, Corey Wilkes, Chicago Sinfonietta, Ari Brown, Robert Irving III, Victor Provost and more. He performs in the Chicago area and has recently appeared in Japan, Taiwan, the U.S. and across China.

Selected performance clips:

Suwan Choi

Selected performance clips:

Notable Alumni

Mathew Tembo (M.M., 2013)

  • Admitted to the prestigious Ph.D. program in ethnomusicology at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Touring singer, songwriter and recording artist active in Ethiopia, Zambia, Europe and the U.S.
  • Awarded best Afro-fusion for the song "Nandunge" from the album, "Anthem," his first album to feature Zambian traditional instruments, at the 2008 Born and Bred Awards in Zambia.

Aboud Agha (M.M., 2013)

  • Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, UCLA.

Omar al Musfi (M.M., 2012)

  • Adjunct professor in world music, Waubonsee College.
  • Director of the Middle Eastern Ensemble, NIU.
  • Selected performance credits: Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, contemporary pop artists such as Sting and Shakira.

Joe Kinzer (M.M., 2012)

  • Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Fellowship awards: Fulbright-Hays (doctoral dissertation research abroad) Malaysia (2015-2016), Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship in Bahasa Indonesia (2013-2014).

Amirah Ali (M.M., 2009)

  • Malaysian world-pop singer-songwriter active in Southeast Asia.
  • Awards:
    • The ISC International Songwriting Competition 2011, second place.
    • The John Lennon Songwriting Competition, finalist 2010.
    • Winner for Best Overall Female Act and Best Performer, VIMA 2013.


Jui-Ching Wang
Phone: 815-753-7979
Office: Music Building 206