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Theatre & Music

Fall Semester News 2023



The BMUS in Music Education licensure proposal APPROVED by the ISBE.

Brent Talbot, the Acting Director of UIC School of Theatre and Music, presented the new city-school-based music teacher licensure degree program to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on Friday, December 1 in Springfield, IL.
The School of Theatre and Music's licensure proposal was approved by the ISBE at 11:21am, granting UIC the rights and privileges to teach, prepare, and license the next generation of music teachers.

Photo of Brent Talbot with the Illinois State Board of Education after the approval of the Music Education licensure proposal.

Faculty in the Field

Marques Carroll, music facultydebuted music from his latest two records Foundations and The Ancestors' Call at Winter's Jazz Club on November 17.  Music from Foundations is also played on FX's television series The Bear.  Listen to Marques Carroll's latest music here.

J. Ricardo Castañeda, music faculty, performs the oboe on the Dancing in the Palm of God's Hands album by J.A. Kawarsky. The album features notable musicians such as the Zagreb Festival Orchestra, conducted by Dian Tchobanov, Jonathan Helton on the alto saxophone, the Siberian State Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Lande, and Jillian Krempasky, a mezzo-soprano. Learn more about the album here.

Monty Cole, theatre faculty, recently won the Best Director award at the Jeff Awards ceremony. His production of Fences was also recognized with awards for Best Production (Midsized) and Best Leading Performance, which went to Kamal Angel Bolden for his portrayal of Troy. See awards here.

Robert DiFazio, music faculty, heads the Research and Development department at Song Sleuth, a tech company. Song Sleuth recently became a finalist in Music Ally's startup showcase, SI:X, in the "Data, Analytics and Tools" category. A panel of judges, including representatives from Amazon Music, ASCAP Lab, The Raine Group, Red Bull Media House, Reed Smith, and Universal Music Group, will select a winner in each category. The winners will present at the Music Ally Connect conference in London in January. Learn more about Song Sleuth here.

Album cover for Marques Carroll's latest album Foundations.

Christine Dunford, Director of the School of Theatre and Music, had her adaptation of The New York Times Bestselling Novel by Lisa Genova, Still Alice, translated into Czech, Slovenian, and Turkish. Still Alice is also being produced at the Jihoceske Theatre in České Budejovice, the Slovene National Theatre in Ljubljana, and the State Theatre in Ankora.

Gaby Lobatka, theatre faculty, was the Intimacy Director for Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Twelfth Night played from October 25 through December 3. Learn more here.

Tanera Marshall, theatre faculty, is the dialect coach for actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach of the television series The Bear. Ebon Moss-Bachrach received an Emmy Award nomination this year for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy in his role as Richie Jeremovich. The Emmy Awards will be broadcast on January 15, 2024.

Photos of actor Ebon Moss Bachrach and UIC theatre faculty Tanera Marshall.

Liza Calisesi Maidens, music faculty, conducted the UIC Chamber Choir at the fall conference for the Illinois Choral Directors Association (IL-ACDA), held in Urbana-Champaign on October 27. This was a peer-reviewed conference invitation and an exciting opportunity for the students to share the progress of the UIC Choirs with the greater Illinois choral community. In January, the choir will perform at the Illinois Music Educators Conference (IMEC) in Peoria. Learn more here.

Karissa Murrell Myers, theatre faculty, will perform a staged reading of her play Black Bear Island at Goodman Theatre’s New Stages Festival on December 1 and December 9. The annual New Stages Festival is a celebration of innovative, risky new work by some of the country’s most singular and ambitious playwrights. Learn more here.

Neal McCollam, theatre operations coordinator, plays the host of the Christmas Eve party, Dr. Stahlbaum in Ruth Page's The Nutcracker. Ruth Page's The Nutcracker performs on December 16 and 17. Tickets here.

Collette Pollard, theatre faculty, is the Project Designer for Dennis Watkins' The Magic ParlourThe Magic Parlour is Chicago’s longest-running magic show in Chicago.
Pollard was also the Scenic Designer for the Tony Award-winning play The Lehman Trilogy by Steffano Massini adapted by Ben Power and co-directed by Nick Bowling and Vanessa Stalling. The Lehman Trilogy ran from September 19- November 26.

Alex Benito Rodriguez, theatre faculty, performs as Jim Fingal in The Lifespan of a Fact by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell at TimeLine Theatre. The Lifespan of a Fact plays through December 23. Tickets here.

Rachelle Tsachor, theatre faculty, was awarded the title Master Somatic Movement Educator and Therapist by the International Somatic Movement Education & Therapy Association.
Additionally, as part of the National Science Foundation award, under the Biden infrastructure plan, Tsachor’s research team was invited to ‘write the book’ for AI researchers to better understand Emotion Expression in Visual Media. Their chapter was published in the prestigious PIEEE in October.

Photo of UIC alumni in Ruth Page's The Nutcracker. From left to right: Ian Brown, Ginger Leopoldo, Renardo Johnson, and Neal McCollam.

Dean’s Research Prize

The Dean’s Research Prize makes limited funds available to support faculty creative projects, research, and scholarship to support their evolving research trajectories. Four UIC School of Theatre and Music faculty were awarded the Dean’s Research Prize.

Liza Calisesi Maidens
Expanding the Choral Canon
In January 2024, Professor Calisesi Maidens will present “Expanding the Choral Canon” at the Illinois Music Educators Conference as part of a session devoted to researching and sharing more approachable and flexible works from the Renaissance and Baroque eras and highlighting voices often excluded from the choral canon. The expansion of Renaissance and Baroque choral music is one of the primary areas of Professor Calisesi Maidens’s research. At the session, she will present new resources for this repertoire and demonstrate how to program these works creatively. 

Yasen Peyankov
Directing Describe the Night at the National Theatre of Bulgaria
This award will support travel to Bulgaria, where Professor Peyankov will direct the Bulgarian premiere of Describe the Night by Rajiv Joseph at the National Theatre Ivan Vazov in Sofia, Bulgaria. The production is also the first step in a developing collaboration between the National Theatre in Bulgaria and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.

Photo of the UIC Chamber Choir at the Illinois Choral Directors Association conference at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

Michael Stryker
UIC Jazz Small Group Recording Project
This project will document with high-quality audio recordings the music played by students in the jazz combos at UIC led by Professor Andy Baker and Mr. Marques Carroll. The studio experience promotes significant musical growth for student artists through the music preparation/rehearsal process. It also prepares them for revenue-generating opportunities in recording studios upon graduation. 

Brent Talbot
Rituals of Power, Resistance, and Music in Trinidad and Tobago
This project is part of a long trajectory in Professor Talbot’s work at the intersection of ethnomusicology and music education aimed at decolonizing music curricula through immersive visits to colonial sites. In February 2023, he will travel to Trinidad and Tobago to interview musicians, artists, and teachers who perform as part of the rituals, ceremonies, and celebrations of the Canboulay and Mas traditions.

Student and Alumni News

Jenne Lennon, music alumni, was the arranger and voice coach for musical scenes in the film Perpetrator with Alicia Silverstone. Lennon was also the composer, arranger, voice, and conducting coach for all live music scenes in Knives and Skin directed by Jennifer Reeder. Learn more about Jenne Lennon here.

Rameez Hasnain, music student, released a collection of solo piano improvisations in an album titled Intuitive Momentum under his artist's name Ramizu. Listen to the album on Spotify here

Earl Hester IV, music student, released “Perfect People” on November 17. Perfect People also includes piano by music alumni Andrew Priedmore. Read the student article on Earl Hester's "Perfect People" on the UIC School of Theatre and Music website.

Abdo Timejardine-Zomeño, music student, will have the World Premiere of his piece  “A Child's Desperate Call” at the Atlanta Freedom Bands Winter Concert on December 16.  “A Child’s Desperate Call” honors the memory of those lost at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Learn more here.

Album cover for Earl Hester's "Perfect People."