Silver Circles: José Riojas

José Riojas

José Riojas, assistant professor of music and director of bands.

Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

Silver Circles: 1
Years at UIC: 5

What does it mean to win this award from the graduating seniors?

These graduating seniors are the first class of freshman that I had a hand in recruiting. I feel personally responsible for their success here at UIC and as they move forward in the future. I am incredibly honored that they took the time to write on my behalf.

What do you teach?

I teach the UIC Wind Ensemble, conducting, orchestration, chamber music, and I have taught saxophone.

How do you engage students in your courses?

I teach many courses and each course has an entirely different format. Overall, I care deeply about the art form is my life’s work and for the material that I have to offer my students. I also believe that this is apparent in my demeanor throughout the day, and influences my preparation, presentation and connection to the material. I hope that the students feed off this energy and can, therefore, make stronger connections to what is being taught.

What are your research interests?

My interests lie in conducting and performance.  I also do extensive work in orchestration and arranging for large and small ensembles. Lastly, I work in the development of conducting pedagogy.

What is your advice to graduating students?

Remember that good work is always rewarded. It may take time. In the world of the arts, you will hear the word “no.” You will have hardships. But good and persistent work will have its payoff. And you will find your success. Know that you will impact so many people throughout your lifetime with your work. And finally, remember that your work is not for you. It is for the world around you. Use your work to make the world around you the best that it can be.

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