NIU Voices: Bringing art to audiences and audiences to art

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

Every year, the talented students in the Northern Illinois University College of Visual Arts present more than 300 public concerts, productions and exhibitions through the School of Art and Design, School of Music and the School of Theatre and Dance.

As dean of the college it is my privilege and great joy to take in as many of these events as possible, and I invite you to join me as we are fast approaching the busiest time of the spring semester!

Experience for yourself our immensely talented students, under the tutelage of our world-class faculty, as we seek to build on our mission of bringing art to audiences and audiences to art.

In music, you can attend concerts by any of our professional level jazz groups, concert bands, choral groups, percussion ensembles, and more!

As part of the university’s anniversary, our world music program is stepping to the fore with a 125th Anniversary Celebration: Southeast Asian Arts showcase at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 4, in our beautiful Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. Don’t miss the world-famous NIU Steelband’s annual spring concert at 3 p.m.Sunday, April 19. On Sunday, April 26, the NIU Philharmonic Orchestra and NIU Concert Choir are joining forces for a performance at 3 p.m.

Opera Theatre presents “The Marriage of Figaro” with two performances to choose from, 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, or 3 p.m. Sunday, March 29.

The School of Theatre and Dance continues to select works to take full advantage of their renovated home in Stevens Building. Our new scheduling of shows this year includes performances over consecutive weekends. Their ambitious season of productions includes “Summertime” by Charles L. Mee, March 20-22 and 26-28, and Pulitzer Prize and Drama Circle Award-winning “The Time of Your Life” by William Saroyan, March 27-29 and April 2-4.

Our Spring Dance Concert which features two short ballets will be presented April 22-26, and a treat if you’ve never attended before, our annual Bachelor Fine Arts showcase of video reels and live action scenes is April 10-12. The showcase affords our students an opportunity to demonstrate their talents before we take it to Chicago where our actors will display that talent and meet with leaders in the industry, like casting directors and talent agents.

In the School of Art and Design, our Annual Juried Blick Art Materials Ars Nova Exhibition opens March 27 and runs through April 17 in the Jack Olson Gallery in the home of the visual arts at NIU, Jack Arends Hall. It’s a great opportunity to see the best of what our students have to offer.

“Very Well, Thank You” – The Arts as Means to Well Being, is the next show in the NIU Art Museum on the main floor of Altgeld Hall. The exhibition runs from April 16 to June 5.

And finally, it’s time once again for the Community School of the Arts to hold their Performathon fundraising event. It’s a great day of fun for the whole family with performances, an art exhibit, raffle, music swap, bake sale and more! If you’ve never been, you need to see it for yourself, and if you have been, welcome back. Performathon is Saturday, April 18, from noon to 5 p.m. in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall.

As you can see, we have a lot going on and I’d love for you to join us. For a complete listing of our events, times and locations visit our online calendar at and you can always find interesting stories about our students, alumni and faculty on our Arts Blog at

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

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