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Exhibits

Currently at Sousa

“From Russia with Love:” John Garvey’s Russian Folk Orchestra, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 12, 2017 – September 3, 2018.

The University of Illinois Russian Folk Orchestra was founded in 1974 by John Garvey, who had joined the University’s Walden String Quartet in 1948 as its violist and in 1959 established the university’s jazz band program.  In 1969, the jazz band toured the Soviet Union as part of the State Department’s cultural exchange program, and Garvey developed a keen interest in Russian folk music.  He later returned to the USSR to study Russian folk music traditions and purchased additional folk instruments that he used to establish the Illinois Russian Folk Orchestra.  The Illinois ensemble eventually served as a model for other American universities’ Russian folk orchestras by providing open depoliticized educational spaces for students to pursue their interest in Russian folk music traditions.  This exhibit of folk instruments, photographs, and music provides visitors with a general introduction to Russian folk music traditions and culture that were promoted by the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution and the folk musicians who immigrated to the United States after WWII.  It also acknowledges many of the talented musicians who performed with the University of Illinois’ Russian Folk Orchestra under Garvey’s direction between 1974 and 1989 and reveals a forgotten part of the University of Illinois’ musical past.

Sousa and Tsar Nicholas II’s Birthday: An Unexpected Tour Adventure, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois, August 21, 2017 – August 6, 2018.

The Russian imperial capital of St. Petersburg was a major stop during John Philip Sousa’s 1903 tour of Europe.  Sousa planned his St. Petersburg performances to coincide with the tsar’s birthday and the bicentennial of the city’s founding, and anticipated large audiences for these concerts because the band had never before played in Russia.  What resulted, however, was a misadventure.  The concerts occurred at the beginning of Russia’s annual summer vacation when most theaters and concerts halls were closed.  In addition Russian music critics’ responses to his music was tepid.  Sousa was intimidated by the extensive advertising throughout the city for what he initially believed to be his music rival Суза, but eventually discovered that this was the Russian spelling of his own name.   While the St. Petersburg performances were not well attended, the concerts did spark deep patriotism among the American diplomats who were able to attend and the Russian aristocracy and military enthusiastically received the Sousa Band’s renditions of the Imperial Russian and American national anthems.  This exhibit of photographs, music, newspaper reviews, and political cartoons document Russian perceptions of America and Sousa’s music at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Henry Fillmore: The Man Behind the Name, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 31, 2016 – October 30, 2017.

Henry Fillmore (1881-1956) was an unconventional trombonist, composer, and bandmaster who loved circus music, American football, and his music-loving dog.  The hustle of Cincinnati’s river wharfs, and his and Uncle Fred’s love of the many circuses that passed through town often distracted the young Henry from the drudgeries of school, piano lessons, and the weekly trips to church.  The trombone fascinated him the most because it always led the circus’ bands, but his formal trombone lessons were short-lived and his unruly teenage humor continued to embarrass his family.  Returning to Cincinnati homesick after running away with the John Robinson’s 10 Big Shows Circus, Henry’s father agreed to send him to the Miami Military Institute to complete his education.  After graduating from the Institute in 1902 he was given a position in his father’s church hymnal company, but wasn’t happy unless he was playing his trombone.  In 1904 Henry fell in love with Mabel May Jones, an exotic vaudeville dancer he saw performing at the St. Louis World Exposition during the family’s summer vacation and he eventually married her much to his parents’ disdain.  To escape family tensions the couple joined the Lemon Brothers Circus where Henry was responsible for playing the trombone and calliope, and leading the circus band. Eventually the newlyweds returned to Cincinnati in 1905 and Henry rejoined his father’s publishing company as the manager of its new bands department and the Fillmore music instrument store.   As Henry’s reputation as a band leader, trombonist, and composer continued to grow over the next thirty years, his love of the music, colorful spectacles, and ringmaster attention of the circus were continually reflected in his new compositions and performances as director of the Shrine Temple Band between 1921 and 1926, and later with his own Fillmore Band for Cincinnati’s WSAI Radio Station’s coast-to-coast broadcasts between 1927 and 1930 which featured his musical four-legged friend, Mike, the “radio hound.” This exhibit explores through photographs, original music, and sound recordings the life of Henry Fillmore and his love affair with the slide trombone.

James Beauchamp and the Harmonic Tone Generator, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, September 22, 2015 – January 31, 2018.

James W. Beauchamp earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in 1960 and 1961, and in 1965 he graduated from the University of Illinois with a PhD in electrical engineering. While a student at Illinois he worked closely with his mentor and composition professor Lejaren Hiller, and created one of America’s first voltage-controlled electronic music synthesizers called the Harmonic Tone Generator (HTG). The HTG was used in several different electronic music projects produced at the University of Illinois during the 1960s and 70s including Salvatore Martirano’s Underworld.  After graduating from Illinois he joined their electrical engineering faculty, and by 1969 had earned a joint appointment in the electrical engineering and music departments.  Between 1969 and 1973 Beauchamp served as director of the School of Music’s Experimental Music Studios (EMS), and as director of the Computer Music Project (CMP) between 1984 and 1993.  In the fall of 1993 Beauchamp and Sever Tipei became co-managers of CMP.  This exhibit documents through photographs, stories, scientific reports, and audio recordings the early development of the HTG at the University of Illinois.

The Red Cross: A Soldier’s Best Friend, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, February 11, 2015 – January 31, 2018. 

Clara Barton, who earned recognition as the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her humanitarian service during America’s Civil War, founded the American Red Cross in May 1881 as an associate relief organization of the International Committee of the Red Cross Organization.  However, unlike its international associate, the American Red Cross devoted most of its early service efforts to provide relief for those individuals from the United States affected by natural disasters, such as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.  During America’s involvement in WWI, both the International and American Red Cross played a major role in arranging transportation of volunteers to the Western Front to aid soldiers injured during battle; and in 1917, the Red Cross received the only Nobel Peace Prize awarded between 1914 and 1918.  The American public lauded these volunteers for their devotion to the troops, and many of America’s popular songs were written to honor the men and women of the Red Cross.  This small exhibition of sheet music cover art graphically illustrates America’s diverse portrayals of the Red Cross volunteer during the Great War.