Outside the Box

March 11, 2019

Outside the Box to bring internationally known musicians and composers to campus

by Hannah Erickson

CARBONDALE, Ill. — For the 13th year, the Outside The Box new music festival will live up to its name with an assortment of concerts, seminars and virtual reality experiences.

Open to the whole community, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s multimedia festival will feature a week full of music performances, March 22-30.The free events highlight contemporary artists and composers, along with respected SIU faculty and accomplished students.

Festival to feature international artists and composers

Staying true to its rich history, this year’s festival will bring in a variety of new music in multiple genres and styles. For festival director and associate professor of music theory and composition at SIU, Christopher Walczak, this festival is an excellent opportunity to feature music and styles that are not as common in the region.

“The whole idea of ‘Outside the Box’ is to bring the kind of artists here that the community and the campus wouldn’t normally see in an area like ours,” Walczak said. “We work very hard to bring in people of international acclaim who are at a very high level in their art.”

Walczak said organizers like to bring a number of extremely accomplished performing guest soloists and ensembles, along with one or two internationally recognized composers.

Festival features special guest concerts

Every day of the festival culminates with a concert by a variety of guest performers and SIU faculty and students. The diverse experiences provide original sounds, featuring everything from percussion to strings, brass, woodwind, electronics and more.

All of the events are free and open to the public:

  • March 23 – 7:30 p.m., Shryock Auditorium, BluHill Percussion Duo performing a contemporary percussion concert.
  • March 24 – 7:30 p.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 100, SIU Improvisation Unit.
  • March 25 – 7:30 p.m., Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall, SIU School of Music Emerging Composers Concert.
  • March 26 – 7:30 p.m., Shryock Auditorium, SIU Percussion Ensemble.
  • March 27 – 7:30 p.m., Carbondale Community Arts-Artspace 304, 304 W. Walnut, St., Carbondale, Music by Eric Mandat.
  • March 28 – 7:30 p.m., Shryock Auditorium, Special guest composers Stephen Dembski, Arthur Gottschalk and Kathleen Ginther. Also featuring the SIU School of Music faculty and the Altgeld Chamber Players.
  • March 29 – 7:30 p.m., Carbondale Community Arts-Artspace 304, Apollo Chamber Players, featuring the music of composers Stephen Dembski, Arthur Gottschalk and Christopher Walczak.
  • March 30 – 7:30 p.m., Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall, Guest clarinetist and composer Derek Emch. 

Composition seminars and special talks

The composers will interact with the community at the concerts and hold workshops and seminars that are open to the public.

 “One of the things we consider when we invite an artist is to consider whether or not they will engage with the community, students and faculty,” Walczak said.

Gottschalk, an award winning composer and professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and Dembski, an internationally recognized flutist, composer and conductor, will both lead seminars addressing their art, background and musical history.

Additionally, several SIU music students will receive focused training from the two artists during the week. Not only do the guest artists mentor the students, but they also work one-on-one, performing student composer works in a special “reading and recording” session.

The Apollo Chamber Players will also give a talk to students and the community. With experiences of playing in front of a sold-out crowd in Carnegie Hall and multiple international venues, the Houston-based string quartet features regularly commissioned worldwide composers along with up-and-coming artists.

All seminars and workshops are free and open to the public, along with Q&A opportunities following each talk. These events are set for: 

  • March 27, 5 p.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 110: Arthur Gottschalk.
  • March 29, 11 a.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 110: Apollo Chamber Players.
  • March 29: 3:30 p.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 114: Stephen Dembski. 

Student performances

 The festival also features several students who will perform alongside the professional guest artists. This experience not only allows the community to get a peek into the work on campus, but it also prepares the students for their future careers in the music industry.

“One of our goals is to get the students involved and give them a glimpse of things at the professional level,” Walczak said. “’Outside the Box’ makes a point of combining guest artists with faculty and SIU students, often on stage at the same time.”

The festival opens with senior composition recital by Caleb Gomes at 7:30 p.m., March 22, in Altgeld Hall Room 112. Other student performers will join additional ensembles and concerts.

Virtual reality installation

This year the School of Music and the Department of Radio, Television, and Digital Media are collaborating to bring in DiMoDA, pioneering digital virtual reality creators. The free exhibit, called “Fools Paradise,” features a virtual world of art for community members to experience.

“This is a virtual reality world that people explore with three-dimensional Oculus headsets,” Walczak said. “DiMoDA commissioned a number of visual artists and composers to create a virtual world full of art based on the works of William Blake.”

People can explore a world full of music, poetry and art with these headsets on, while experiencing everything in virtual and real space, Walczak explained. The art will also be available for viewing and from a projection screen for those waiting to use headsets. The beginning presentation of the exhibit is set for 3:30 p.m. on March 27. The virtual reality experience is free and open to the public anytime during Carbondale Community Arts’ business hours March 27-30.

A full schedule of events is available at www.otb.siu.edu. For more information, contact Christopher Walczak at walczak@siu.edu.