Fazlur Khan honored in sesquicentennial composition
Late CEE alumnus Fazlur Rahman Khan (MS 53, MS 55, PhD 55) is one of only three University of Illinois alumni to be featured in a musical composition created to mark the university’s sesquicentennial. The work debuted with a performance by the University of Illinois Wind Symphony and Chamber Singers on February 11, 2018, at the Chicago Symphony Center. The performance was followed by a reception at the structural engineering and architectural firm where Khan spent his career, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). The reception was made possible by CEE at Illinois alumnus and SOM partner William F. Baker (MS 80).
Additional concerts will be held in New York (April 14, 2018) and Urbana (April 21, 2018). Details about receptions in honor of Khan for each of these events is listed below.
The symphony and singers, led by Director of Bands Stephen Peterson and Director of Choral Activities Andrew Megill, were joined by soloists Nathan Gunn, Todd Payne, and Yvonne Redman for the debut of the newly commissioned work, “Gathering.” The composition was created collaboratively between composer Dominick DiOrio of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and National Book Award-winning writer and Professor Emeritus Richard Powers. Powers assembled a text that blends speeches and writings by a diverse trio of University of Illinois alumni, including Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Van Doren (BA 1914), Nobel laureate in Physiology/Medicine Rosalyn Yalow (PhD 1945) and Khan, a pioneering engineer best known for designing Chicago’s Willis (Sears) Tower and John Hancock Building.
In May 2017, the creative team including the directors and performers gathered at the School of Music to discuss the lyrics and composition as well as the process and thought given to bringing the work to life. With the composers’ flowcharts pinned to the walls of a Music Building classroom, Powers described the energy within the words of the reference material and gave insight into the choices made with the lyrics, while DiOrio described the feel, emotion and flow of the musical score. The lively discussion focused upon how the text and the music wove together to paint a portrait of Illinois’ long history and the vibrant future ahead. A featured quote from Khan is: “The technical man must not be lost in his own technology. He must be able to appreciate life, and life is art, drama, music, and most importantly, people.”
Upcoming event information
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New York Reception
Pre-Concert Reception for CEE at Illinois Alumni and Friends
April 14, 2018
4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Hosted by Langan
360 W. 31st St., New York City
Concert will be held at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center (tickets must be purchased separately)
Pre-Concert Dinner for CEE at Illinois Alumni and Friends
April 21, 2018
Cocktails 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. • Dinner 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Hosted by CEE at Illinois
Yeh Center, Newmark Lab
Concert will be held at Krannert Center (tickets must be purchased separately)
Top photo: Fazlur Khan, courtesy of University of Illinois Archives