Ollie Watts Davis

School of Music Celebrates Its 125th Anniversary with a Weekend of Special Concerts

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The University of Illinois School of Music will celebrate its 125th anniversary from April 29 to May 1, 2022, with a weekend of special concerts that demonstrate the talent and range of its students, faculty, alumni, and community performers. Formally established in 1895, the School of Music ranks among the nation’s top music programs and has enriched the Champaign-Urbana community, the State of Illinois, and the nation through musical artistry for generations.

“I invite the entire Champaign-Urbana community—and the entire alumni community—to celebrate with us,” said Dr. Jeffrey Sposato, director of the School of Music. “We have a range of fantastic concerts over the course of three days, with something for everyone.”

The original celebration, planned for fall 2020, was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that has not lessened the excitement surrounding the occasion. The School’s faculty, staff, and students have been busy preparing for a weekend filled with many performances that promise to delight audiences.

Friday, April 29

Under the direction of Prof. Chip McNeill, the Concert Jazz Band will kick things off at 7:30 PM on Friday, April 29, in the Studio Theatre of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Saturday, April 30

The celebration continues at 1 PM on Saturday, April 30, with a University Chorus performance featuring Franz Joseph Haydn’s Little Organ Mass in Smith Memorial Hall, under the direction of students Andrew Bruhn and Elisabeth Meyer.

U of I’s Jazz Vocal Ensembles, directed by Dr. Barrington Coleman, will perform standards by Bobby McFerrin, Cole Porter, and Duke Ellington along with some exciting student compositions at 3 PM that same day in Krannert Center’s Studio Theatre.

At 5 PM, violin faculty members Meg Freivogel and Salley Koo will present a duo recital in Smith Memorial Hall.

At 7:30 PM, one of the highlights of the weekend will be the collaboration between the UI Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Singers, and Oratorio Society in a performance of Johannes Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem. Prof. Andrew Megill will lead the ensembles during this spectacular piece and is joined by soloists Courtenay Budd, soprano, and Prof. Nathan Gunn, baritone. This concert also features Prof. Stephen Andrew Taylor’s arrangement of Four Spirituals, performed by Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, soprano, and the Jupiter String Quartet. The concert will take place in Krannert Center’s Foellinger Great Hall.

Also at 7:30 PM, the Repertory Jazz Orchestra will perform in Krannert Center’s Studio Theatre under the direction of Prof. Jim Pugh.

The School of Music invites all concertgoers to attend a birthday reception in the main lobby of the Krannert Center following the two 7:30 PM performances, where cake will be served.

Sunday, May 1

The Illinois Wind Symphony and Wind Orchestra will present a special concert at 3 PM in Krannert Center’s Foellinger Great Hall. The concert features several audience favorites, including Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Malcolm Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances, Gustav Holst’s First Suite in E-Flat for Military Band, and David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 4. Following the performance, all are invited to attend a reception in the Krannert Center lobby in honor of conductors Steve and Beth Peterson, who are retiring this year from the faculty.

At 3 PM, Lyric Theatre students will perform in the Freshman Showcase in Krannert Center’s Tryon Festival Theatre. In addition to these spotlight performances, the Lyric Theatre area will present awards to several deserving students in recognition of their outstanding musical accomplishments during the current academic year.

Also at 3 PM, the Jazz Combo Concert II will take place in Krannert Center’s Studio Theatre. The three combos featured on the program have been coached by Professors Ron Bridgewater, Tito Carrillo, and Chip Stephens during the Spring 2022 semester.

The final highlight of the weekend is “New Awakenings II: The Movement Revisited,” featuring Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist and composer Christian McBride. McBride’s composition The Movement Revisited—A Musical Portrait of Four Icons pays tribute to Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Martin Luther King Jr. through music and words. Under the guidance of Dr. Barrington Coleman, McBride is joined by several world-renowned soloists, a campus and community chorus, and guest speakers from the community. The concert will take place at 7:30 PM in Krannert Center’s Colwell Playhouse.

Concerts in Smith Memorial Hall are free and do not require advance tickets. Audience members must wear masks and be prepared to show proof of vaccination.

To purchase tickets for the concerts in Krannert Center, please visit https://krannertcenter.com/. Krannert Center requires audience members to wear masks, and to show proof of vaccination in order to receive a wrist band prior to entering the concert.

View the full concert listings.

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