Musicians & Music

Meet the extraordinary men and women of Northshore Concert Band who have dedicated their lives to making music!


Daniel DiCesare

Daniel DiCesare plays the Trombone and has been with the Northshore Concert Band since 2013. He is a Private Music Teacher and lives in Chicago, Illinois.

When and why did you start playing?  Both my father and grandfather were amateur jazz drummers, so I joined the fifth grade band because I wanted to be a drummer like them. Of course, I hadn’t told anyone that’s why I was joining, otherwise someone might have warned me that grade school concert bands don’t play jazz. But I stuck with it anyway, and got steered toward playing tuba. I picked up trombone in high school, so that I could join the jazz program there, thus it all worked out in the end.

What do you enjoy most about playing?  I’m creating something beautiful, and that always feels special to me.

Do you have a favorite musical memory? Performing with Quincy Jones and his hand-picked guest soloists at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

What are your musical influences?  Too many to list! Ranging from the rock group The Who to Renaissance music.

Who was your most influential music teacher?  Jim Warrick, my high school jazz director. He always seemed to be having so much fun! But working with him wasn’t just goofing around (although there was plenty of that,) it was him showing us that working hard at something, and constantly looking to improve at it, made it more fun, not less.

Does anyone in your family play music?  My wife plays bassoon, and my father plays drum set and vibes.

What’s on your iPod?  About a dozen obscure jazz albums, highlighted by The Complete Aladdin Sessions of Lester Young.

Do you have any advice for young musicians? Listen to as much music as you can, of as wide a variety as you can. Listen, and imitate what you hear, because that’s where it all began.

What makes performing with Northshore Concert Band different than performing with other groups?  It’s an amateur group with a professional atmosphere. I like that fact that the standards are very high even though the stakes are low. I’ve played professionally for years, but still feel like I have to bring my best stuff every Wednesday night so I don’t let my friends down.

List three words to describe the Northshore Concert Band   Friends Making Music

Please add anything else that you would like our audience to know about you.   I teach lessons to students of all ages at reasonable rates.

Learn more about the Northshore Concert Band at

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Magnolia Star by Steve Danyew


Steve Danyew is an award-winning composer for wind, choral, orchestral + chamber groups. He received a B.M. from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and holds an M.M. in Composition and Certificate in Arts Leadership from the Eastman School of Music.

Magnolia Star, a highlight of our fall 2016 concert Reflections, is an energetic piece that was written for wind ensembles.  The Magnolia Star was a train that ran from New Orleans to Chicago with the famous Panama Limited in the mid 20th century.This work evokes train travel with driving rhythms, train-like sonorities, and also uses the blues scale as the primary pitch material of the piece.

Composer Steve Danyew has this to say about his fun and energetic Magnolia Star:

“When I was playing saxophone in my middle school jazz band, we started every rehearsal the same way – with an improvisation exercise that our director created.  It was a simple yet brilliant exercise for teaching beginning improvisation and allowing everyone in the band a chance to “solo.”  As a warm-up at the opening of each rehearsal, the whole band played the blues scale ascending, resting for one measure, descending, and resting for another measure (see example below).


During the measures of rest, each member of the band took turns improvising a solo.  Looking back, this exercise not only got the band swinging together from the start of rehearsal, but it made improvisation, a daunting musical task to many, seem within everyone’s abilities.

This experience was my introduction to the blues scale, and I have long wanted to write a piece inspired by this group of pitches. In Magnolia Star, I explore various ways to use these pitches in harmonies, melodies, and timbres, creating a diverse set of ideas that will go beyond sounds that we typically associate with the blues scale. I didn’t want to create a “blues” piece, but rather a piece in my own musical voice that uses and pays homage to the blues scale.  Nearly all of the pitches used in Magnolia Star fit into the concert C blues scale.  It is interesting to note that embedded within the C blues scale are both a C minor triad, an Eb minor triad, and an Eb major triad.  I explore the alternation of these tonal areas right from the start of the piece, and continue to employ them in different ways throughout the entire work.

Another influence was trains and the American railroad. The railroad not only provides some intriguing sonic ideas, with driving rhythms and train-like sonorities, but it was also an integral part of the growth of jazz and blues in America.  In the late 19th century, the Illinois Central Railroad constructed rail lines that stretched from New Orleans and the “Delta South” all the way north to Chicago. Many southern musicians traveled north via the railroad, bringing “delta blues” and other idioms to northern parts of the country.  The railroad was also the inspiration for countless blues songs by a wide variety of artists.  Simply put, the railroad was crucial to the dissemination of jazz and blues in the early 20th century.  Magnolia Star was an Illinois Central train that ran from New Orleans to Chicago with the famous Panama Limited in the mid 20th century.” (images and quote are reproduced from

Join us on Sunday November 5, 2016 as the Magnolia Star returns to the Chicagoland area!


Sunday November 6, 2016, 3:00 pm
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Illinois



For more information about Steve Danyew, visit
To purchase tickets for this performance, visit