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Spring Tributes to Retiring Music Faculty Harris, Hemke and Kujala

Bienen School of Music to celebrate long-time faculty members with spring concerts

EVANSTON, Ill. --- With a combined total of 135 years of teaching experience at Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, three soon-to-retire music faculty members -- Robert A. Harris, professor of conducting and choral ensembles, Frederick L. Hemke, professor of saxophone, and Walfrid Kujala, professor of flute -- will be celebrated this spring. All of the following Bienen School events are open to the public.

Harris will conduct his final Northwestern concert Memorial Day weekend in Chicago at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 27, in Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion at 201 E. Randolph St. The Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, University Chorale and Chorus, University Women’s Chorus, Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and two alumni soloists -- tenor Harold Brock and bass-baritone David Govertsen -- will perform the U.S. premiere of British composer Richard Blackford’s powerful oratorio, “Not in Our Time.” Commissioned by the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus for its centenary, the work premiered in England last year on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The outdoor concert is free and open to the public. 


Hemke’s 50-year teaching career will be celebrated during the Saxophone Orchestra Monster Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 3, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive. The event, featuring many of Hemke’s former students, will provide the audience a rare opportunity to see some of the world’s premier saxophonists performing together on stage. Performers will include the Chicago Saxophone Quartet, comprised of soprano saxophonist Wayne Richards, alto saxophonist Paul Bro, tenor saxophonist Leo Saguiguit and baritone saxophonist James Kasprzyk. Soprano saxophonist Susan Fancher, alto saxophonists William H. Street, Jonathan Helton, John Sampen and Ron Blake, cellist Steven Thomas and pianists Sharon Peterson and Marilyn Shrude will also perform. Conducted by Stephen Alltop, the concert will highlight great saxophone works of the last 50 years, including several pieces by M. William Karlins; a world premiere by Bowling Green State University composition professor Marilyn Shrude; and a saxophone orchestra arrangement of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with IDs. 

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall will also be the venue for two other spring events associated with Hemke’s upcoming retirement. The Northwestern Alumni Saxophone Recital at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 2, which is admission-free, and the Kumoi Saxophone Quartet and Northwestern Saxophone Ensemble program at7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 2, which will feature three U.S. and world premieres. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with IDs. 

The Walfrid Kujala Tribute Concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 4, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, will celebrate the retiring flute professor’s 50 years of teaching at Northwestern. The performance will feature seven of his most accomplished current and former students who hold positions with the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The program will include works by Henri Dutilleux, Antonio Vivaldi, Russell Pinkston and Franz Schubert, as well as the world premiere of a trio for flute/piccolo, percussion and piano by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and Northwestern alumnus Joseph Schwantner. Performers will include flutists Mindy Kaufmann, Zart Dombourian-Eby, Robert Cronin, Jonathan Keeble, Erinn Frechette, Lindsey Goodman and Kristin Carr, with piano accompanist Nolan Pearson. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs. 

Robert A. Harris 

Conductor Harris has been a member of the Bienen School faculty for 35 years. He is also a composer, clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and abroad. A former member and co-chair of the choral panel for the National Endowment for the Arts, he is the recipient of the Bienen School of Music Exemplar in Teaching Award and the Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award. Harris’ compositions for chorus are published by Oxford University Press, Boosey and Hawkes, Walton Music, Mark Foster, Alliance Music and J.S. Paluch.

Frederick Hemke

Hemke, professor of saxophone at the Bienen School of Music, previously held the distinguished position of Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence. A three-time School of Music Professor of the Year award-winner, he currently serves as Louis and Elsei Snydacker Eckstein Professor of Music. He is a world-renowned adjudicator, master teacher and recitalist as well as a guest performer with orchestras. His international achievements include the Kappa Kappa Psi Distinguished Service to Music Award. He also was the first American to be awarded the Premiere Prix du Saxophone at the Paris Conservatory. Hemke has recorded with leading ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Kronos Quartet and Stockholm Philharmonic. He serves as a consultant to the Southern Music Company and the Selmer and La Voz Corporations.

Walfrid Kujala 

Kujala, professor of flute, served as principal piccolo in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and was a soloist with the orchestra under conductors Sir Georg Solti, Fritz Reiner, Antonio Janigro and Seiji Ozawa from 1954 to 2001. President of the National Flute Association, Kujala received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Also an accomplished author, Kujala has written several textbooks. His most recent, “The Flutist’s Vade Mecum of Scales, Arpeggios, Trills and Fingering Techniques,” was the 1996 winner of the Newly Published Music Competition of the National Flute Association.

For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Office at (847) 491-5441 or visit To order tickets call the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office at (847) 467-4000 or visit