Oakton’s April events include Six Piano Ensemble; Next to Normal

Oakton Six Piano Ensemble has performed throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Des Plaines, Ill. (April 3, 2023) – Mark your calendar now and get your tickets before they sell out for “Next to Normal,” a rock musical about a suburban family struggling with mental illness, and Oakton’s Six Piano Ensemble, one of the unique musical groups in the world.

“‘Next to Normal’ is a hauntingly truthful examination of mental illness and how its effects can radiate out into an entire family and community. It's been on my bucket list of shows to direct for a long time now, and I'm excited to bring it to the Oakton College community,” said director Jason Fleece.

Dad's an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens, appearing to be a typical American family. And yet their lives are anything but normal because the mother has been battling manic depression for 16 years. “Next to Normal,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical, takes audiences into the minds and hearts of each character, presenting their family's story with love, sympathy and heart.

Next to Normal
Thursdays, April 13 and 20, 7:30 p.m.
Fridays, April 14 and 21, 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays, April 15 and 22, 7:30 p.m.
Sundays, April 16 and 23, 2 p.m.
Des Plaines Campus, Studio Theater
Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt
Directed by Jason Fleece
$10 general admission; $8 students and seniors

Oakton Six Piano Ensemble
Sunday, April 30, 3 p.m., Des Plaines Campus, Footlik Theatre
Conducted by Glenna Sprague
$15 general admission; $10 students and seniors; $8 groups

“This year’s group includes new and returning members chosen through the highly selective audition process,” said Sprague, professor and coordinator of music. “The repertoire includes a few well-known pieces, including ‘It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing),’ Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring,’ and ‘Oakton Toccata,’ a composition composed by Robert Vandall for the Oakton Six Piano Ensemble.”

Founded by Sprague, the Six Piano Ensemble has delighted sold-out audiences for more than 25 years. The group will perform classical, ragtime, jazz and popular music, as well as symphonic repertoire transcribed for the six pianos.

The rich, layered sound of the Ensemble is comparable to that of an orchestra as the melody transfers from pianist to pianist. Widely acknowledged as one of the unique musical groups in the world, critics from Vienna to Glasgow hail the Six Piano Ensemble as “innovative” and “technically superb.” A reception will follow the concert.

Jazzin’ Around
This concert is positively hopping! Oakton’s fantastic jazz combo kicked off the spring season with a big band bang! Oakton music faculty and friends took to the Footlik stage for a jumping and jiving night of jazz hits. Led by the instructor of music Mark Olen, Jazzin’ Around features classic and contemporary favorites, with a little something for everyone.
A recording of the concert is available on-demand at https://oakton.sharestream.net.

Oakton’s Performing Arts Center regularly hosts student concerts, events and other in-house performances, in addition to outside productions. We are proud to produce performances that provide diverse opportunities to our students, community members and professionals. Our campus is enriched by the variety of productions that share their art through the Performing Arts Center, and Oakton is glad to be a consistent source of culture and entertainment for our community. For more information about events at Oakton, please visit events.oakton.edu.