New UIC music leader sees city, campus as music lab
As the recently appointed head of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s music program, Louis Bergonzi’s aim is to make it the most accessible undergraduate music program in the country.
“As far as a music program goes, you could not ask for a better laboratory than the city of Chicago,” says Bergonzi.
In addition to supporting and building UIC music programs, Bergonzi will also be taking the baton to conduct the UIC Orchestra beginning with a concert in October.
“I’ve been interested in access to music instruction my whole career and the intersections of music learning in both formal and informal settings,” said Bergonzi. “I look forward to imagining how music at UIC can best respond to the needs and talents of our students, contribute to the progressive mission of the university, and reflect the astounding vitality of Chicago’s diverse musical communities.”
Bergonzi had last served as the Daniel J. Perrino Chair in Music Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he specialized in conducting and string education. In addition, he was on the music education faculty at the Eastman School of Music where he served as director of the Rochester-Eastman Urban String Project.
A long-time educator, Bergonzi’s career began as a string specialist and orchestra conductor for the Lexington, Mass. public schools. He has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Yamaha Music Education Research Project to look into the predictive effects of arts and music education on art and music participation later in life.
In 2010, 2012 and 2016 Bergonzi was co-director of “Establishing Identity: LGBTQ Studies & Music Education.” These symposiums were designed to foster a discussion of how LGBTQ issues operate within music education in terms of research, curriculum, teacher preparation and the musical lives and careers of LGBTQ music students and teachers, according to Bergonzi.
He has also served as a guest conductor for honors youth orchestras throughout Asia, Australia and North America. In addition, he has published extensively about music with an emphasis on strings and LGBTQ and other diversity issues. His current research investigates gender and sexual diversity within music classrooms and professional development of teachers around these issues.
Bergonzi will be leading the orchestra in four concerts this school year, with the first scheduled for Oct. 15. The theme of the concert is, “From Many Voices” and will feature “Rákóczi March” from “The Damnation of Faust,” by Hector Berlioz. In addition the concert will feature Michael Daugherty’s, “Pachelbel’s Key,” Johann Sebastian Bach’s, “Little Fugue in G minor,” and Felix Mendelssohn’s, “Symphony No. 5, The Reformation.”
The concert, “From Many Voices,” will be at 3 p.m. at UIC Theatre 1044 W. Harrison St. and admission is pay what you can. For more information, call the box office at (312) 996-2939 or go to the School of Theatre and Music website.
Bergonzi said he picked the music and the theme to dramatize that like music—as represented in the pieces on this concert program that are full of imitative compositional techniques—people’s individual and collective differences add depth to the human experience and make our lives richer as a whole.
“We all share common human qualities but we all have our own variations on them and when we put them all together we end up with an experience that we couldn’t have constructed by ourselves,” said Bergonzi.