Past Event

From Prairie to Farm to City: Music to Commemorate Illinois's Bicentennial

A Road Scholar Program by Phil Passen

The music in this presentation, performed by singer and hammered dulcimer player Phil 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.

Passen will begin with a melody from a Native American tribe indigenous to Illinois. He will sing a traditional French song that reflects the state’s French colonial heritage and is sung regularly in only two places in the United States, one of which is in Illinois. His presentation will feature songs and tunes representing various ethnic communities that have contributed to life in Illinois, including a song popular among Mexican immigrants, sung in Spanish. 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 event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Donna Blomquist at