Bicentennial series presentation Sunday, Oct. 21

Illinois 200: Bicentennial eventJoin LLCC’s Academy of Lifelong Learning this Sunday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m. in the Thorne Deuel Auditorium at the Illinois State Museum, 502 S. Spring St. for “From Prairie to Farm to City: Music to Commemorate Illinois’s Bicentennial” presented by Phil Passen. The program is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

The music performed by singer and hammered dulcimer player Passen reflects the story of Illinois, which has been shaped not only by its land and natural features — the prairies, lakes and rivers — but also by the many cultures that have flourished here: those of Native Americans, French, Germans, African Americans, Latin Americans and numerous others. Songs of the Underground Railroad, which ran through Illinois, will also be featured. So will selections representing farmers, workers, labor struggles, disasters and tragedies, as well as a few blues and rock-and-roll songs. Passen will provide commentary about the histories of the selections and the contexts in which they have been sung and played in Illinois. This will be an informative and entertaining look at Illinois, its history and its people.

The word dulcimer means “beautiful song.” Audiences are fascinated by the uncommon, trapezoidal-shaped hammered dulcimer. After Passen’s performances, members of the audience, young and old, musicians and non-musicians, are welcome to take a closer look at the dulcimer and try their hand at it.

Chicago-based hammered dulcimer player Passen is one of few performers who sings while accompanying himself on the hammered dulcimer. He performed for many years for the Chicago Department of Aviation’s tourist programs at O’Hare Airport, where travelers often thanked him for providing pleasure on a stressful day. Passen regularly performs at area libraries and is included in the Best of the Best by the Library Administrators and Coordinators of Northern Illinois. He also played in the World Symphony Orchestra’s performance of The Lord of the Rings Symphony at Chicago’s Auditorium Theater.