VanderCook Music News, week of September 17


Fall online MECA courses begin today, wtih subjects from guitar, string and electric bass instruction to executing a middle school choir program and staging a school musical. Plus how-to courses on Noteflight, Sibelius, GarageBand and more. Registration for all fall MECA courses has been extended to Monday, September 24, at 12:00 noon. Check out the full course list here.




Sunday’s Senior Day Open House welcomed 26 prospective undergraduates, who took a campus tour, participated in a conducting master class, and got first-hand impressions of VanderCook from current students and alumni. 

Afterwards, attendees and their parents stayed for the annual Prism Concert, which featured stirring performances by the Concert Choir, Percussion Ensemble I, Jazz Ensemble, Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphonic Band and Collegiate Chorale. Students honored their pre-VCM mentors, and over a dozen scholarships were presented, including the first-ever Maurice T. & Ruth A. Rhodes Scholarship for woodwind and brass players and the Herman D. Smith Memorial Scholarship. Photos from the concert and presentations will be posted soon. Stay tuned!

VanderCook’s One City outreach program was represented at two events sponsored by Todd Rundgren’s Spirit of Harmony Foundation: at the House of Blues on September 8, and at a musical instrument drive held at Martyr’s on September 9. Many thanks to all who came out, and especially to Dr. Leah Schuman for securing our inclusion at both events! 


This Week


September 18 & 24
VanderCook is hosting two ILMEA High School Audition master classes to ready high schoolers for their auditions. The master classes will be held at VanderCook starting at 6:00 p.m. on both dates. For more information and to register, visit our ILMEA Audition Master Classes page.


September 22
The One City outreach program begins this Saturday at VanderCook. Program director Dr. Leah Schuman and a team of VanderCook undergraduates will be introducing jazz and jazz instruments to about 40 5th–7th  graders. Come to their recital on December 8 at 11:00 a.m. 


VanderCook in the News

Chicago Jazz Magazine features a wonderful profile of Kobie Watkins (BMEd ’99) and his illustrious career. 

WJMR-FM, Jammin’ 98.3 in Milwaukee, spot-lit Britney Freeman (MMEd ’12), better known on the Milwaukee scene as singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist B-Free, in their Jammin’ Mic Check feature

On August 30, Gloria Galante (MMEd ’93) performed in a tribute concert to jazz legends Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane and Benny Golson at the Platinum Grille in Chestnut Hill.  Read about Galante’s career, her love of jazz harp and her friendship with the late Alice Coltrane in this terrific article.

VanderCook’s English professor Barry Kritzberg had his review of Danny Kuhn’s book Thoreau’s Wound published in the Spring ’18 issue of the Thoreau Society Bulletin. 




September 27
VanderCook is holding an Open House Visit Day for high school students of all levels interested in learning more about the school. Details and registration information can be found here.

Also on the 27th, two-time Grammy-winner Mads Tolling will present a special master class and share wisdom from his years with the Turtle Island Quartet, performing with legends like Stanley Clarke and Jean-Luc Ponty, and leading his acclaimed ensemble The Mads Men.  Presented by Yamaha and Quinlan & Fabish.  Details and RSVP info to be found here.

September 29
Middle Level HonorFest gives advanced, director-nominated middle school band musicians and choir singer an opportunity to spend a day with a master clinician in a higher education setting. They rehearse during the day and conclude with a performance later in the afternoon.


Around Town

Just a fraction of the many worthwhile events happening in the city this week:

September 20-23
Pianist Robert Glasper appears with his trio (bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid) at The Jazz Showcase. Tickets & info here.

September 21-23
The Cold Wave VII Festival takes over The Metro this week, featuring ‘90s industrial-dance heavyweights Meat Beat Manifesto on Sept. 22, and Frontline Assembly and Die Krupps on the 23rd. Full sched & tickets here.


This Week in Music History

Acknowledging the people and events that shaped music as we know it today…

September 17

1179: German composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine magistra and Catholic saint Hildegard von Bingen, whose biography is considered the earliest biography of a classical composer, died today at age 81.

1923: Hank Williams, considered by many to be the most important country singer of all time, was born today. His catalog continues to sell by the millions and influence thousands.

1926: Bill Black, the rockabilly bassist who backed Elvis Presley on his early career-defining hits, was born today.

1926: Jazz organist ‘Brother” Jack McDuff was born today. McDuff recorded a number of successful albums with artists including George Benson and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes, and was one of the earliest proponents of what came to be known as jazz-funk or groove-jazz.

1931: Happy birthday, vinyl! The first 33 1/3 rpm LP made its debut today by RCA Victor in New York City. Despite the format’s ability to hold significantly more music than the 78rpm, the reigning format of the day, the LP was put on hold due to the price of a record player  $95 at the time (roughly $1,100 today). The LP was reintroduced (with much more affordable players) in 1948.

1962: Australian film director Baz Luhrmann was born today. Luhrmann had a hit novelty song in 1999, “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” but is most known for his lavish, flamboyant extravaganzas Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby and Romeo + Juliet

1967: The Doors earned a television ban today on the famed Ed Sullivan Show. Singer Jim Morrison had agreed to change the lyric “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” per producer demands but sang the original lyric anyway during the live broadcast.  The band was thereafter banned from Sullivan’s program.

1969: The first published reports of the infamous “Paul is Dead” theory appeared today, alleging that Paul McCartney had actually died three years earlier and that a double had been appearing in his place ever since.

1969: Keith Flint, lead vocalist of The Prodigy, is born.

1985: Panic! at the Disco bassist Jonathan Jacob Walker is born.

1991: Singer Rob Tyner of Detroit’s finest, The MC5, was found dead in his parked car from a heart attack today. The MC5 established themselves as a political firebrand during the 1960s, writing countercultural and anti-establishment songs in a hard, proto-punk style, eventually earning them a place on the FBI’s watch list.

2005: Composer Alfred Reed died today.

2009: Composer Leon Kirchner died today.

September 18

1899: Scott Joplin was granted copyright today for what would become his most famous and enduring work, “Maple Leaf Rag.”

1910: Israeli composer Josef Tal is born.

1933: Blues singer Jimmie Rodgers is born.

1952: Dee Dee Ramone, bassist of the seminal punk band The Ramones, is born.

1970: Rock fans around the world were stunned today upon learning that Jimi Hendrix had died. The trailblazing rock guitarist had choked on his own vomit while passed out from intoxication. Hendrix is still considered the genre’s single-most influential and unparalleled guitarist, and early innovator of heavy acid rock and guitar noise.

September 19 

1908: Gustav Mahler’s 7th Symphony premiered in Prague today.

1973: Country rock singer Gram Parsons, original member of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, died today under initially mysterious circumstances, later determined to be drug-related. His manager and a longtime roadie stole Parsons’ coffin, drove it to the California desert and set it on fire, claiming to be respecting the singer’s wishes. Parsons is considered enormously influential on modern music for his unique blend rock, country, soul and psychedelia into what he called “Cosmic American Music.” He was 26 at the time of his death.

1943: ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot, California dreamer and frontwoman of The Mamas & the Papas, is born. The honey-voiced singer’s life was cut tragically short at age 32 from heart failure.

1951: Producer , multi-instrumentalist and singer Daniel Lanois was born today. Lanois would end up producing many smash albums during the ‘80s and ‘90s, including U2’s The Unforgettable Fire, Peter Gabriel’s So, Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy and Robbie Robertson’s first solo album.

1952: Musician and producer Nile Rodgers was born today. A one-time member of the disco band Chic, Rodgers would go on to produce hits for Diana Ross and David Bowie (‘Let’s Dance,’ ‘Modern Love’ and China Girl’).

1964: Country singer-songwriter Trisha Yearwood is born.

1977: Ryan Dusick, drummer for Maroon 5, is born.

1979: The No Nukes Concert was held at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Performers included Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Carly Simon, The Doobie Brothers, David Crosby and James Taylor.

1981: Simon and Garfunkel performed together for the first time on stage in over a decade at their now-famous concert in Central Park. 

September 20

1970: Despite claims of innocence and testimony from fellow band members, Jim Morrison of The Doors was found guilty today for public obscenity and allegedly exposing himself during a concert in Miami a year earlier. He would never serve his six-month prison sentence, having died eight months later in Paris. In 2010, Florida governor Charlie Crist issued Morrison a posthumous pardon. 

1973: Singer-songwriter Jim Croce died today in a small plane crash. The 30-year-old singer is best known for “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” and “Time in a Bottle.” 

September 21

1874: Gustav Holst is born.

1911: Composer Frank DeVol, who would write theme songs for dozens of TV shows including The Brady Bunch, was born today.

1934: Canadian folk singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was born today. Cohen broke onto the scene in the late ‘60s with his debut Songs by Leonard Cohen, featuring the haunting classic “Suzanne.” His 1984 song “Hallelujah” was later covered by John Cale and Jeff Buckley, and has become a vocal ensemble favorite in recent years.

1938: Japanese piano virtuoso Yuji Takahashi was born today. Takahashi gained international fame as an interpreter of some of the 20th century’s most challenging classical works, including pieces by John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Toru Takemitsu, Olivier Messiaen and others.

1945: Pioneering electronic and computer music composer Laurie Spiegel was born today. Spiegel’s “Harmonicies Mundi” is the only electronic composition included on the golden record being carried through deep space by the Voyager II spacecraft as you read this. Her 1972 piece “Sediment” is featured in the first Hunger Games film.

1947: Don Felder, vocalist and guitarist for The Eagles, was born today. He, too, gets no birthday card from The Dude…

1967: Country singer-songwriter Faith Hill was born today.

1968: David Jude, better known as Trugoy from the ‘90s hip-hop collective De La Soul, was born today, making 50 the magic number...

1972: David Silveria, drummer for Korn, is born.

1972: Liam Gallagher, leader and lead singer of ‘90s Britpop sensation Oasis, is born.

1987: Jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius died today after a fight with a club bouncer in Florida. Pastorius was a member of saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s fusion band Weather Report, and recorded with Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell, among others.

1994: Jule Styne, composer of numerous Broadway shows including Gypsy and Funny Girl, died at age 88.

2010: An American high school gym teacher named Leonard Skinner died today at age 77. His impact on the music is unshakeable, having been the person after whom the band Lynyrd Skynyrd named themselves. 

September 22

1869: Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold premieres today in Munich.

1951: Singer David Coverdale of Deep Purple and Whitesnake was born today. Coverdale would later collaborate with Jimmy Page on a best-selling album.

1957: Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave is born. The deep-throated poet would front two of the most controversial and celebrated bands, The Birthday Party and later Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, both of which have sustained deep cult followings to this day.

1958: Throw another dime in the jukebox, baby! It’s Joan Jett’s birthday. The founding member of the all-woman punk band The Runaways has been called ‘The Godmother of Punk’ for her pioneering leadership of women in hard rock.

1981: Songwriter Harry Warren died today at age 88. Warren is credited on over 800 popular songs, including “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “That’s Amore,” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” and others.

1985: The first Farm Aid concert was held today in Champaign, IL. Among the stars appearing on stage were Alabama, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, John Denver, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and Kenny Rogers, among others.

2015: One of the longest copyright legal battles was settled today when a U.S. district court judge ruled that the original claim to “Happy Birthday” was no longer valid, putting the song in the public domain. Warner/Chappell music had previously paid $15 million for the copyright.

September 23 

1930: Jazz and soul/r&b legend Ray Charles is born today.

1946: Nigerian singer King Sunny Ade is born.

1949: Happy birthday to the Boss! Bruce Springsteen is born today.

1980: Bob Marley collapsed on stage during a concert in Pittsburgh today, just two days after collapsing in NYC while jogging. The Pittsburgh concert would be Marley’s last live performance ever; he died from cancer the following May.

1989: Irving Berlin, the celebrated American composer and lyricist, died today at age 101. Many of Berlin’s classics are considered among the best quintessentially American songs, including “White Christmas” and “God Bless America.”

2001: Isaac Stern, the famed classical violinist, died today at age 81.


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