Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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The inside scoop on Outside the Box Music Festival

The+Little+Giant+Chinese+Chamber+Orchestra+is+among+the+featured+guest+artists+during+SIU+School+of+Music%E2%80%99s+annual+Outside+the+Box+festival%2C+which+also+highlights+the+works+and+performances+by+SIU+faculty+and+students.+
The Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra is among the featured guest artists during SIU School of Music’s annual Outside the Box festival, which also highlights the works and performances by SIU faculty and students.

This year’s “Outside the Box” music festival will “transcend mere entertainment” and “highlight new concepts and embrace new sounds” at various locations around SIU through April 19, according to Professor Eric Mandat, who will perform a clarinet recital and other duties.

“Outside the Box” is celebrating its seventeenth year by bringing in composers and artists from as far away as Taiwan and as close as right here on campus. The U.S. based musicians hail from cities ranging from Chicago and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Orlando, Florida. The styles cover electronic music to classical and many genres in between.

One of Mandat’s clarinet compositions will be performed by the Little Giant Chamber Chinese Chamber Orchestra from Taiwan, which will perform on Friday, April 19 in Shryock Auditorium.

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Mandat said he believes the audience will gain an expanded appreciation of the art of listening as they experience new sounds.

Festival organizer Associate Professor Chris Walczak agrees.

“We’re pretty excited about Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra visiting us from Taipei, Taiwan. The ensemble specializes in the fusion of traditional Chinese instruments and Western orchestral instruments. Five brand new compositions will be premiered by the group along with SIU faculty performers.”

The festival was founded by Kathleen Ginther, who taught composition and music theory at SIU for 18 years.  Her works have been praised as “music of ethereal delicacy” and “otherworldly rapture” according to the Outside the Box website, which says her compositions are “searching and contemplative in nature, but often displays a streak of playfulness and whimsy.”

Ginther is a featured artist this year and said it’s good to be back.

“I’m so excited Chris Walczak invited me to write a new piece for the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra and the Altgeld Chamber Players, our SIU faculty ensemble,” she said.

She said it was a challenge to create work for the chamber orchestra.

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“Writing a piece that combines Western classical instruments with ancient Chinese instruments is one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted, but also so much fun.”

In addition to the concerts, the festival offers symposiums, workshops, and other ancillary events, Walczak said. Outside the Box allows School of Music faculty and students, and the community at large, a chance to work closely with the guest artists, who are nationally and internationally acclaimed.

“Of prime importance when considering who to feature each year is how engaging the guests will be; it’s critically important that the featured guest artists are excited to interact with our students, faculty, and members of the community,” Walcak said.

Ginther said she hopes the festival will bring awareness of how talented the musicians and composers of SIU are.

“I hope it brings to the audience a sense of excitement in hearing music that has never, ever been heard before. I hope it brings a bit of understanding of how collaborative music making is…and I hope the audience has a blast.”

All events at Outside the Box are free and open to the public.

Outside The Box 2024 Schedule of Events

TUESDAY, MARCH 26

10:00 AM, Altgeld Hall Room 119

Please join us for a discussion session led by special guest artist Jessica Speak on the topic of Building Musical Community Wherever You Are. Open to all SIU faculty and students and the general public.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27

7:00 PM, Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall

The SIU Clarinet Studio, under the direction of SIU Visiting Professor of Music and Distinguished Scholar Eric Mandat, will present its annual Outside the Box concert. The featured guest for the evening will be international performing artist and Stetson University clarinet professor Dr. Jessica Speak. The concert will feature several of Mandat’s chamber works for clarinets, including the premiere of his new duet, Five Miniatures (2022).

THURSDAY, MARCH 28

7:00 PM, Altgeld Hall Room 112

SIU faculty percussionist Christopher Butler will perform a concert of electric and innovative new music for percussion and computer.

TUESDAY, APRIL 9

7:00 PM, Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall

Directed by Eric Mandat, the Southern Illinois University Improvisation Unit will present a concert of mostly improvised music, with a special tribute to groundbreaking composer Morton Feldman.

THURSDAY, APRIL 11

7:00 PM, Shryock Auditorium

Get ready for an evening of completely new music for an eclectic variety of musical instruments and electronic sound composed and performed by SIU School of Music students!

THURSDAY, APRIL 18

11:00 AM, Shryock Auditorium

Outside The Box featured guest artists The Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra will demonstrate the captivating sounds and contemporary techniques of traditional Chinese musical instruments, speaking about the role they play in new music performance. Open to all SIU students, faculty, and the general public.

7:00 PM, Shryock Auditorium

Come hear this kaleidoscopic concert of new electroacoustic works by a variety of contemporary composers including SIU faculty members Christopher Butler, Dick Kelley, and Eric Mandat, joined by members of featured guest artists The Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra.

FRIDAY, APRIL 19

7:00 PM, Shryock Auditorium

Please welcome Outside The Box 2024 featured guest artists from Taipei, Taiwan, The Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra. Led by internationally acclaimed conductor Chih-Sheng Chen, the orchestra will perform five newly commissioned world premieres by composers Kathleen Ginther, Gregory Glancey, Zoe Lin, Eric Mandat, and Christopher Walczak. Specializing in the musical fusion of traditional Chinese instruments and western orchestral instruments, the group will be joined on stage by bassist Joe Bauer and SIU faculty performers the Altgeld Chamber Players featuring Robert Allison, trumpet, Christopher Butler, percussion, Jessica Butler, trombone, Anthony Gray, piano, Yuko Kato, piano, Richard Kelley, saxophone, Eric Mandat, clarinet, and Jennifer Presar, horn. Not to be missed!

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