WIU Festival celebrates new music

The Western Illinois University School of Music will host its 35th annual New Music Festival on Monday and Tuesday.

Events will take place in Browne Hall and the College of Fine Arts and Communication Recital Hall on the Macomb campus.

WIU School of Music professor James Romig and assistant professor Hong-Da Chin, both professors of composition, lead the festival, which will feature cellist Craig Hultgren and composer Baljinder Sekhon.

Hultgren has performed as a cellist with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and has taught at Birmingham-Southern College, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the Alabama School of Fine Arts. He also produced the Biennial Hultgren Solo Cello Works, an international competition highlighting the best new cello compositions.

Sekhon’s compositions have been performed in over 500 concerts in 20 countries. His work, especially with saxophone and percussion, is recognized as pioneering. He is assistant professor of composition at the University of South Florida and has also served as percussionist for the LS Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series at Walt Disney Hall, Festival Spazio Musica in Cagliari, Italy, and Bang on a Can Marathon in New York.

“We are very pleased that our WIU composition students had the opportunity to work closely with Craig Hultgren as they worked on writing the compositions he will perform at this year’s festival,” said Romig. “Craig was a guest at last year’s festival, which was held on Zoom due to the pandemic, so our students have known Craig for a year now and have been emailing him scores and recordings for those working here, in person, is the culmination of a lot of hard work and I know our composition students will learn and grow as they collaborate with a master performer who also happens to be a generous and supportive teacher and advocate for young people composers.”

The program of the festival this year:


• 7:30 pm, Recital Hall — Hulgren will perform works for solo cello, including a world premiere, by Sekhon, Chin and Romig.


• 2 pm, recital hall — A public rehearsal with Hultgren on cello; It’s open to the public.

• 7:30 pm, Recital Hall — Hultren will perform works by WIU student composers Jessica Schaumberg, Hunter Logan Stuart, Garrett Davis, Libbey Lazowski, Alice Müller, Ryan Simester, Adam Nyquist, Mary Bausman, Robin Butler and Jeremiah Hendricks. The concert is open to the public.

“Baljinder Sekhon is a fantastic composer and an expert teacher, Romig said. “Having him here on campus is a great opportunity for our music students to hear two of his works performed on Monday evenings, and they will also have the chance to hear him talk about his compositions, his career and his teaching methods during -class presentations on Monday and Tuesday.”

The New Music Festival is supported by the School of Music and the WIU Performing Arts Society. For more information, call the Recital Hall Office at 309-298-1843 or visit bit.ly/WIUNewMusic.

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