Episode 008: Don Owens, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Dan Moore and I were lucky have Dan's mentor, Don Owens (D.O.) come out and work our band in rehearsal.  Of course, we couldn't let D.O. leave without sitting down and recording a podcast about his time in Texas and working at Evanston Township High School and Northwestern University in Illinois.  Enjoy listening to some great band history and teaching tips for band directors everywhere.

Don Owens, Coordinator Emeritus of the Jazz Studies and Pedagogy Program, Director Emeritus, Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the National High School Music Institute at Northwestern University, began his tenure at Beinen School of Music in 1979.  Before coming to Northwestern, he taught for twelve years at Evanston (Illinois) Township High School where his duties included directing band, brass ensembles, and jazz band, as well as teaching classes in music theory, popular music, free improvisation, and composition.  He created the Electronic Music Studio at ETHS in 1971.  

Owens received the Bachelor of Music Education degree from North Texas State University, where he studied Composition and Jazz.  His Master of Musical Arts degree is from the University of Illinois, where he majored in Composition.  He studied composition with Morgan Powell, Merrill Ellis, Samuel Adler, and Salvatore Martirano.  He has won several grants and awards, and is regularly commissioned for new works.

In his first few years at Northwestern, Mr. Owens conducted the nationally renowned Jazz Ensemble, directed the "Wildcat” Marching Band and Symphonic Band, and taught advanced Method classes for undergraduate Music Education Majors.  He eventually was appointed Coordinator of the Jazz Studies and Pedagogy Program, teaching courses in Jazz Writing, Seminar in Jazz Pedagogy, Jazz in the Public Schools, and conducted the Jazz Ensemble.  Under his leadership, the Northwestern Jazz Program grew to offer the B.M. in Jazz Studies and the M.M. in Jazz Pedagogy. 

In addition to Owens' responsibilities in the Jazz area, he served as Director and Primary Conductor of the internationally acclaimed Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble for over 20 years.  This group performed over 200 world premiers, as well as the standard 20th century repertory.  In 1991, the Northwestern CME served as the primary chamber music ensemble for the John Cage Now World Festival.  In the spring of 1995, the CME served as one of two visiting Artist Ensembles for the National Meeting of the Society of Composers at the University of Iowa.  In 2002, the CME played a major role in the Stephan Wolpe Festival, sponsored by the School of Music.

During the summers, Owens served as Director of the National High School Music Institute, from 1991 to 2004.  Under his leadership, the enrollment increased by 100%.  With a curriculum that required the attending students to declare a Major - Classical Guitar, Composition, Jazz Studies, Music Education, Piano, Strings, Voice, or Winds and Percussion- NHSMI consistently attracted students from all 50 states, as well as many foreign countries.