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Bienen School Hosts 'Brass Spectacular' at Millennium Park

Memorial Day weekend outdoor program free and open to the public

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The sounds of brass will fill the air when Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music presents its eighth annual Memorial Day weekend concert in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park Sunday, May 26.

Free and open to the public, “Brass Spectacular” is a celebration of Northwestern’s top ranked brass program. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the outdoor concert in Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 East Randolph St., will feature classical and contemporary works, including music for brass ensemble and trombone choir, conducted by Gail Williams and Peter Ellefson. 

The program will include Gabrieli’s “Canzon Primi Toni” and Sonata XX, Jeremy Dibb’s “Excalibur,” Allen Chase’s Passacaglia and Anthony Barfield’s “Reflections.”  Strauss’ “Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare,” Brahms’ “Variations on a Theme by Haydn,” Rossini’s Overture to “The Barber of Seville,” Shostakovich’s “Fire of Eternal Glory,” Holst’s “Mars” from “The Planets,” Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and the Finale from Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 in C Minor (“Organ”) also will be performed. 

Northwestern Brass Ensemble conductor Gail Williams is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of horn at the Bienen School. A member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for nearly 20 years, Williams now serves as the principal horn of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra. She performs with the Summit Brass and Chicago Chamber Musicians, ensembles she co-founded.

Trombone choir conductor Peter Ellefson teaches at Northwestern, Indiana and Roosevelt universities. He performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Chamber Musicians, Chicago Brass Quintet and New York Philharmonic Brass Quintet.


For more than 40 years, Northwestern’s brass program has enjoyed the highest international reputation and a close relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, sharing both legendary brass performers and teachers. Today’s brass faculty, as current or former members of acclaimed symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles, continue the tradition of performing teachers.

Each year, Northwestern brass students and alumni amass prizes and honors at the highest level. For the past three years, Northwestern trumpet students have been winners in the National Trumpet and International Trumpet Guild competitions. Next season’s trumpet section of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago will be comprised entirely of Northwestern trumpet students.

Graduates of the brass program hold prestigious positions in performing arts organizations worldwide, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, The United States Army and Navy bands, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Office at (847) 491-5441 or visit

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