North Park University to host Concert for Families of Children with Autism and Special Needs

Audience members interact with a performer during last year's concert.
Audience members interact with a performer during last year's concert.

University Concert Band to perform Oct. 8

CHICAGO (September 30, 2011) — North Park University will host the Second Annual "Exceptional Music for Exceptional Families" concert for families of children with autism and special needs at 7:30 p.m., October 8, at the University's Anderson Chapel. Preceding the concert, at 7:00 pm, audience members will be able to see musical instruments up-close in an "instrument petting zoo" at the Chapel.

The evening features students in the University's Concert Band, directed by Dr. Joseph Lill, associate professor of music. The concert will highlight music from the movie, The Incredibles, and a medley from the Harry Potter movie series, he said. Admission is free, but seating is limited and tickets must be reserved in advance.

"This is a place where families of children with autism and special needs can attend a concert together," Lill said. "There will be noise behind me, singing and dancing, and that's okay. This is an entirely welcoming experience."

Lill got the idea to host such a concert last year from article he read that was written by Lawrence Van Oyen, professor of music and director of bands at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. Van Oyen described a similar annual concert in Naperville as a rewarding experience. Lill wanted to bring such a concert to North Park to serve people in the northern part of Chicago, and the north and northwest suburbs.

"This will be the first music concert of the year for us. It fits everything we do here at North Park, and for me, it feels right," Lill said.

About 100 people attended the first concert the University hosted in 2010, and this year, ticket reservations so far have been strong. Anderson Chapel is a good space for the concert, Lill said, because it is wheelchair-accessible, and chairs can be moved as needed to accommodate the audience. Specially printed programs will be available for people with autism. There will be moments during the performance when selected University students will discuss and demonstrate their instruments. Student volunteers from the University will support the event.

In addition to the families who attend, the University and its students benefit from this special performance. Lill remembers what he saw last year as he directed the concert band.

"I was the only one who couldn't see the audience because they were behind me," he said. "But I knew how the performance was being received. I could see it in the faces of the students in the band."


For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.