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NIU Philharmonic ready to jam with Kansas

October 13, 2011

1970s publicity photo of KansasMembers of the NIU Philharmonic will have a rare opportunity on Saturday, Oct. 15, to combine their orchestral talents with rock when they perform with the band Kansas at the Convocation Center.

During the 8 p.m. Homecoming weekend concert, guitars, drums and violins will share the same stage for a one-of-a-kind sound, said Paul Bauer, director of NIU’s School of Music.

“Both groups will be creating a musical statement,” Bauer said. “This will be a musical exchange of sounds and styles. This will be such a completely different experience than what students in the orchestra are accustomed to.”

Kansas, which is known for songs such as “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Point of Know Return,” has played with symphony orchestras at other universities. Together, they have made unique music and delighted audiences of all ages, said Larry Baird, Kansas’ orchestra and music director.

“During rehearsals I always anticipate the sound that will be created when both groups perform together,” he said. “But when they actually take the stage, nothing can match it.”

The Homecoming weekend performance is part of the group’s 2011 Kansas Collegiate Symphony Tour, which raises money for college and university music programs.

Salina Norman

Salina Norman

Baird will conduct Saturday’s 90-minute performance. It will include Kansas’ signature song “Dust in the Wind” and a solo by NIU student Salina Norman performing on violin along with band member David Ragsdale playing a violin.

They will not be dueling, Baird said, but complementing each other.

“I am so excited about this solo. I have never done anything like this,” said Norman, a West Dundee native. “Both groups form such an intriguing sound.”

Norman, a graduate student who is studying violin performance, has been playing the violin for 18 years. School of Music faculty members recommended her because of her talent and commitment to learning different genres of music, Bauer said.

“This will be a unique situation for all of our philharmonic members because they will be playing in a completely different environment. It will have the lights of a rock concert, but the accompaniment of orchestra,” Bauer said.

“This concert is one more way we help prepare our students for what they will likely encounter as professional musicians.”

Tickets cost from $22.50 to $37.50. They can be purchased at the NIU Convocation Center box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, at or by calling (800) 745-3000.

Students will receive a $5 discount if they show a valid NIU OneCard at the center’s box office.

by Gerard Dziuba