October 08, 2015

Music faculty to forge international connections

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Faculty from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Music will visit Brazil and China this fall to share music and to forge connections for potential future students at the university. 

Junghwa Lee, associate professor of piano, and Douglas Worthen, assistant professor of flute and music history, will travel to Brazil Nov. 4-8. Michael Barta, professor of violin, Edward Benyas, professor of oboe and music director of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and Eric Lenz, director of the School of the Music, along with Mingqing Xiao from the College of Science, will visit China Nov. 18-29. 


The Brazil visit coincides with the International Festival: Composers of Today. Lee and Worthen will bring along music composed by Frank Stemper, another School of Music personality. Stemper is professor emeritus and formerly the composer-in-residence at SIU. 

Worthen will present a collaborative performance for flute and piano with Lee at the historic Centro Cultural Justiça Federal. The performance includes Stemper’s “Pipe: Three Pieces for Solo Flute.” Stemper wrote the piece specifically for Worthen to debut in Brazil at the festival. Worthen also selected “Sonata I for Flute and Piano,” a piece composer Martin Amlin wrote for him in 1985. It has since become part of the standard flute repertoire in the United States. 

The SIU and area community will have a chance to preview the concert for flute and piano before Lee and Worthen take it to Brazil. They are performing the concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall on campus. 

Lee will present a solo performance of piano selections from Korean composers by request of the festival director. Initially, she’d planned to play selections from Stemper and another emerita faculty member and composer, Kathleen Ginther. However, the festival director asked her to focus on Korean selections and offered her a solo recital in addition to the collaborative recital with Worthen. 

“I feel honored, since two of the five performances during this year’s festival feature SIU faculty,” she said. “The Korean program also happens to coincide with my sabbatical leave project from 2013, which focused on Korean piano music from the 20th and 21st centuries. This is an exciting opportunity to present this program at the International Festival.” 

Both Lee and Worthen will also offer a masterclass for select students at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro in their respective areas. 

“We hope that our artistic expertise will reflect well on SIU, and that perhaps we will attract students from Brazil to our programs,” Worthen said. 


Barta, Benyas and Lenz are special guests of the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, Benyas as guest conductor and Barta and Lenz as featured soloists. The music program includes Western classical music from Brahms, Bernstein and Borodin. 

All three SIU musicians will also give a chamber music recital and teach master classes at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Meanwhile, Xiao will guest lecture at the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, and at universities in Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The trip is also a recruiting mission, with all four faculty members visiting Chinese high schools to talk about SIU and the opportunities for international students. 

“We accepted these invitations to Shenzhen and Beijing because we believe it is crucial for SIU to have a presence in China in order to attract more students,” Benyas said. 

Ticket sales from the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra fund the recruiting and cultural visit to China.