Years of Service: 1979-2005
Former Director of Jazz Studies, Contemporary Music Ensemble, Marching Band, Concert Bands, and National High School Music Institute (NHSMI)
Don Owens began his tenure at Northwestern in 1979 after 12 years as a music teacher at Evanston Township High School. During his 26 years at the School of Music, he served in a variety of capacities. In addition to teaching and conducting the Jazz Ensemble, he was director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble from 1983 to 2003, leading the group in more than 100 world premieres. He added the responsibilities of directing the National High School Music Institute in 1991, holding that position for 13 years. Through his leadership Northwestern now offers a bachelor of music in jazz studies and a master of music in jazz pedagogy.
The multifaceted Owens has shared in making music with noted figures from both the jazz and contemporary idioms. His compositions have been performed throughout America as well as in Canada, England, Greece, Germany, Japan, Norway, and South America. An internationally recognized clinician, conductor, and adjudicator, he has served in these capacities for concert and jazz bands at festivals and all-state events in 23 states, Canada, Greece, Germany, and Norway. He has received several grants and awards as well as yearly commissions for new works.
Owens earned a bachelor of music education degree from North Texas State University, where he also studied composition and jazz, and a master of musical arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied composition. He is past president of the Illinois unit of the International Association of Jazz Educators and of the Alpha chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda.