Don Owens, Associate Professor of Conducting, Coordinator of the Jazz
Studies and Pedagogy Program, Director, Contemporary Music Ensemble,
and the National High School Music Institute at Northwestern
University, began his tenure at Northwestern University 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, and composition. He created the
Electronic Music Studio at ETHS in 1971. Many of his ETHS students
went on to become music majors at many of the major Schools of Music in
the United States and Canada.
Owens received the Bachelor of Music Education degree from North Texas
State University, where he also studied composition and Jazz. His
Master of Musical Arts degree is from the University of Illinois, where
he studied composition. He studied composition with Morgan Powell,
Merrill Ellis, Samuel Adler, and Salvatore Martirano. He has won
several grants and awards, and is under commission for new works for
the remaining year.
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 currently serves as
Coordinator of the Jazz Studies and Pedagogy Program, teaching courses
in Jazz Writing, Seminar in Jazz Pedagogy, Jazz in the Public Schools,
and conducting the Jazz Ensemble. Northwestern now offers the B.M. in
Jazz Studies and the M.M. in Jazz Pedagogy.
In addition to Owens’ responsibilities in the Jazz area, he is also the
Director and Conductor of the internationally acclaimed Contemporary
Music Ensemble. This group has performed over 100 world premiers, as
well as the more 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 NUCME served as one of two visiting Artists Ensembles for the
National Meeting of the Society of Composers at the University of Iowa.
This season the CME will play a major part in the Stephan Wolpe
Festival, sponsored by the School of Music.
During the summers, Owens serves as Director of the National High
School Music Institute, a position he has held for the past eleven
years. Under his leadership, the enrollment has increased by 100% and
is currently thriving as a Pre-Collegiate Music Major
Experience for the high school-aged students. With a
curriculum that requires the attending students to declare a Major -
Classical Guitar, Composition, Jazz Studies, Music Education, Piano,
Strings, Voice, or Winds and Percussion- NHSMI has consistently
attracted students from all 50 states, as well as many foreign
Mr. Owens is an internationally recognized clinician/conductor. He has
served as an adjudicator and has conducted Festival and All-State
Concert and Jazz Bands in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia,
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi,
Missouri, Nebraska, New York, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, Canada,
Greece, Germany, and Norway. As a conductor, he has shared in the art
of music making with world famous figures from both the Jazz and
Contemporary Classical idioms. His compositions have been performed
across America, as well as in Canada, England, Greece, Germany, Japan,
Norway, and South America.
In April of 1998, Mr. Owens presented a Faculty Recital of his original
compositions at Northwestern. A new CD of that recital, plus other
works was produced: Don Owens/Compositions. In April
of 2001, he presented another Faculty Recital, with all new works,
including two works for Jazz Ensemble, one Chamber work,
entitled...Harmolodics I..., and two Wind Ensemble
pieces, Two Elegies for Alto Saxophone and Wind
Ensemble, and a major work in four movements, Concerto
for Wind Symphony. The new CD, Don
Owens/Compositions II, from that recital is available from
the Composer. This new CD also contains Sirhcaladav, for solo
soprano saxophone and wind ensemble, performed by Chris Vadala
and the National High School Music Institute Wind Ensemble, a work
commissioned by The Commission Project. Most recently, Owens premiered
a new work entitled, Soundations, a set of miniature episodes
for Concert Band. The piece was performed by the IMEA
District VII Junior Honor Symphonic Band. In January, 2002, Mr. Owens
premiered a new work, plus conducted several of his other compositions
and arrangements with the Athens (Greece) Municipal Jazz Band, as well
as a concert of new music with the Athens Municipal Contemporary and
Computer Music Ensemble.
Mr. Owens is the author of several articles dealing with contemporary
music and composition and has had many of his compositions published.
He is a member of M.E.N.C, Illinois Music Educators Association,
International Association of Jazz Educators (Past President for the
Illinois State Unit), College Band Directors National Association, Pi
Kappa Lambda (Past President of Alpha Chapter), and Phi Mu Alpha.