Two Northern Illinois University music professors just received news that is music to their ears: They have been awarded prestigious grants to create distinctive new works for the small ensemble projects they lead.
Greg Beyer and Geof Bradfield, both associate professors at NIU’s School of Music, have been awarded Chamber Music America grants: Beyer received a Classical Commissioning grant and Bradfield a New Jazz Works grant. Both will use the funds to create and promote new pieces.
Bradfield will use his $33,000 grant to compose a concert-length work for a jazz ensemble of nine musicians (a nonet), to be performed multiple times as well as recorded commercially. The funds will help to promote the performances and recording as well.
“The grant will enable me to compose for a larger ensemble than would otherwise be practical from a financial standpoint. It allows me to bring together a dream group of my favorite musicians, write music specifically for those unique individuals, and present the music in Chicago and beyond,” said Bradfield.
Part of that dream group will include NIU alumni Greg Ward, who will perform as a guest artist. The nonet expands the quintet of his last record, “Our Roots,” for Origin records. Bradfield said he anticipates debuting the new work in fall 2017, and will perform it at NIU that fall or following spring.
“I’m very grateful to have received this grant from CMA and am looking forward to getting down to work,” said Bradfield.
Beyer’s $19,000 grant will support Projecto Arcomusical to commission music by New York City-based composer, Elliot Cole. Projeto Arcomusical is the professional performing sextet of Arcomusical, an organization that promotes the Afro-Brazilian berimbau musical bow. The organization is built upon pillars of research, composition, publishing, performing and community building.
“Arcomusical has been for nearly two decades the central focus of my scholarly and artistic work,” said Beyer. “Its path has been generously fostered at NIU, especially through small grant programs such as the Undergraduate Artistry and Research Apprenticeship Program (UARAP).”
Projeto Arcomusical’s debut album, MeiaMeia, has its official release in October. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Dan Nichols, the head of recording services at NIU.
“We took MeiaMeia to Brazil last July and the music consistently received standing ovations. We knew this music had impact in Brazil, a country that intimately understands the berimbau,” Beyer said. “This grant award is incredibly meaningful, therefore, as a sign of impact and validation here in the United States for this unique music we’ve been pursuing right here at NIU,” Beyer said. “We set about writing MeiaMeia to build a repertoire that could lead to bigger commissions in the future. This grant is helping us to realize that vision.”