Italian music fun at Ethnic Heritage Museum Aug. 9

Ethnic Heritage Museum is having summer fun with ethnic music and instruments.

From 3 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 9, the Italian Gallery of Ethnic Heritage Museum will host the Music Academy of Rockford College. Some of the students and the teacher of the Academy will perform Italian folk and Renaissance music.

The Music Academy of Rockford College is in its 24th year of delivering high-quality, affordable and accessible instruction and performance opportunities to students. It is their mission to inspire students with a lifelong love of music and the arts. One thousand students are served by 30 artists.

Martha “Marti” Frantz is the director of the Music Academy of Rockford College, and has been in this position since 1987. Prior to assuming that responsibility, Frantz taught cello with a loosely-allied group of Suzuki teachers who collaboratively offered Suzuki group classes in space loaned by Second Congregational Church. From that group, the Music Academy of Rockford College was formed. Frantz was involved with Eleanor Stanlis, founding director, in planning for and proposing the new school to the trustees of Rockford College.

Frantz began piano lessons at age 5 and cello lessons at age 10, and began to perform with the Rockford Symphony at age 13. Influential cello instructors have been Arthur Zack, Carol Tarr, Raya Garbousova and Richard Sher (formerly of the Vermeer Quartet).She holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree from Rockford College.

She played with the Rockford Symphony for 22 years prior to her “early” retirement to devote herself to the development and growth of the Music Academy.

Eric Schroeder joined the staff of the Music Academy in 2001 to teach Suzuki guitar and music reading/theory. He earned a master’s of music in classical guitar performance and pedagogy, after earning two bachelor’s degrees—one in classical guitar performance and the other in mechanical engineering. Schroeder is one of only a few Suzuki guitar teachers in Illinois.

He performs in a variety of genres including solo classical guitar, chamber music, choral and dance accompaniment throughout the United States and Canada. He teaches both at the Music Academy of Rockford College and at the Community School of the Arts at Northern Illinois University.

Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., houses the cultural history of the six nationalities that were instrumental in the development of southwest Rockford: African-American, Italian, Irish, Polish, Lithuanian and Hispanic.

From now to the end of summer, the galleries at the museum will display unique and unusual instruments from their native country.

In the Italian Gallery, there are photos featuring the following well-known Italian musicians: Joe Guzzardo, who built the Guzzardo Music Store; The Salvato Band (four brothers); Al Grace (Graceffa); Val Eddy Trio; Cono LaLoggia Band; Sam Attardo; and Mike Alongi.

Many of these musicians have their musical instruments on display in the Italian Gallery.

On display in the African-American Gallery is a collection of more than 60 African ceremonial masks and musical instruments. These masks and instruments are part of Rockford native Jacci Mannery’s collection.

Also on exhibit is an African ceremonial mask donated to the African-American Gallery from Gordon Eggers, CEO and president of Crusader Community Health. Eggers received this mask during his stay in Africa attending to the medical needs of several African tribes.

The Irish Gallery display includes various uilleann pipes (or elbow pipes), which are similar to small bagpipes; Irish tin whistle; and a bodhran (small Irish drum).

A must-see in the Hispanic Gallery are the flutes, one made from the bone of a condor bird. The Lithuanian Gallery is displaying a string Kankles “D” drone (Kankles were first played soon after the Ice Age) and an accordion used in the late 1920s by the Lithuanian Cultural Association at the Aragona Hall.

The Ethnic Heritage Museum is open 2-4 p.m., every Sunday. Admission is $3 for individuals or $5 for families for the Aug. 9 musical event. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information regarding the Rockford College Music Academy at the museum or for general information, check the museum’s Web site at, or e-mail to

Group tours of all sizes are arranged throughout the week upon request by calling (815) 962-7402.

from the August 5 – 11, 2009 issue

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