Specialist in Music
Ken Beck is a native of Washington, DC. He studied composition and piano with Robert Dumm, continuing these studies with Wilfred Churchill, John Adams, and Joel Kabakov at the Boston Conservatory of Music. He graduated in 1977. While in Boston, Beck discovered the art of dance. Following his graduation, he served as music director of the Westport Ballet in Kansas City, creating several scores for the company before returning to his hometown for a period of freelance work. In DC, Beck accompanied for Eric Hampton, the Academy Division of the Maryland Youth Ballet, George Mason University, George Washington University, Dance Place, and the Washington Ballet. He also accompanied the annual Cecchetti Council Northeast Conference. He joined the staff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998 and serves as a specialist in music for Dance at Illinois.
A native of Jacksonville, Illinois, Tyler Carpenter recently moved back to his home state and is very excited to join the U of I Dance Department! He is a well-rounded percussionist and educator with expertise in steel pans, drum set, hand drums, and all areas of classical percussion. Tyler received his bachelor's degree in music education from South Dakota State University and his master's degree in music performance from the University of Akron. He accompanied dance classes during his tenure at Akron and has been a very active educator and performer in Ohio and Utah for the past 11 years. His main hand-drumming teachers include Michael Spiro and Bernard Woma. Additionally, Tyler spent four years playing with the Cleveland Browns Drumline. Tyler also is an adjunct percussion faculty member at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, and is very excited to get married to his fiance Melinda in September!
Jason Finkelman's artistic concerns focus on improvised music, cross-cultural collaborative projects, and composition for dance, theatre, and film. A Philadelphia-born percussionist, Finkelman specializes in the berimbau, an Afro-Brazilian musical bow, and performs on African and Brazilian instruments, many handcrafted by Adimu Kuumba. Finkelman currently combines laptop electronics and acoustic percussion in a duo with Ben Wheeler, blending ambient and noise with music traditions of the world, and with IO Mining Corp, an improvising ensemble featuring four generations of musicians bridging diverse musical backgrounds. He is a founding member of the New York-based ambient, avant world trio Straylight featuring Charles Cohen and Geoff Gersh. Finkelman's extensive work with choreographer Cynthia Oliver includes BOOM! (2014-15), Rigidigidim de Bamba de: Ruptured Calypso (2009-10), the dance film AfroSocialiteLifeDiva (2004), and the New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award-winning works SHEMAD (2000) and Death's Door (1996). In 2012, Finkelman was appointed director of Global Arts Performance Initiatives, an outreach program of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and has enjoyed accompanying for dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2000.
Cody Jensen specializes in tonal percussion and drum set. He began playing music for dancers in the Mande tradition of West Africa. After studying djembe and dunduns with master drummer Bolokada Conde for several years, Conde asked him to perform on and produce an album of traditional music on location in Guinea. While there, Jensen took advantage of the opportunity to study balafon with Khaly Camara. Additionally, Jensen studied Balinese traditional music and dance accompaniment with I Ketut Gede Asnawa at the University of Illinois and with I Nyoman Astita in Denpasar, Bali. Currently, he tours with Bones Jugs N Harmony, playing traps, steel drum, xylophone, and rhythm bones.
Aaron Wilson (A+ or ATrain) is a singer, songwriter, poet, and music director who has been a drum extraordinaire since the age of three. He was so in tune with music appreciation and its presence that he was asked to play on a live recording at the age of 10. Playing with such an old soul and tasteful feel for music, he became a household name on the gospel circuit. His unique approach to music opened many doors and allowed him to travel to many cities playing various genres of music such as jazz, country, rock, metal, Afro-Cuban, and blues. Since 2012, he has been touring the world with national/international Blues Blast Music Award winner and nominee the Kilborn Alley Blues Band with two-time Grammy nominee/Stellar Award winner Bryan Wilson as his music director. Currently he is accompanying dance classes at the U of I.