Dr. Alicia Neal
Director of Bands
Director of the Wind Symphony
Alicia Neal joined the EIU faculty as Director of Bands in the Fall of 2012. Her teaching responsibilities include Wind Symphony, Concert Band, Conducting Classes, and overseeing the band area. Originally from Kingwood, Texas, Dr. Neal earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Colorado, where she graduated with honors. She completed her graduate conducting degree with Allan McMurray at the University of Colorado. Dr. Neal attended Northwestern University for her doctoral degree, where she studied with Mallory Thompson and graduated in 2007 with Conducting Program Honors.
Dr. Neal’s dissertation, titled Traveling of the Mind: An Interview with Michael Colgrass and an Analysis of “Raag Mala,” focuses on the music and compositional process of the Pulitzer Prize winning American composer. Other research interests include increasing post-secondary participation in band ensembles for non-music majors and enhancing undergraduate music education major training through the collegiate band curriculum. Dr. Neal is a nationally sought-after clinician and guest conductor, and, in 2008, was a co-presenter at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic for a session titled, “Four Centuries of Masterworks for Brass.” Her professional affiliations include College Band Director’s National Association, College of Music Society, National Association for Music Education, Illinois Music Educator’s Association.
Prior to her appointment at Eastern Illinois University, Dr. Neal served as the Assistant Director of Bands and Associate Director of Athletic Bands at the University of Minnesota, where she assisted with Marching Band, directed Pep Band, conducted University Band, and taught Basic Conducting Classes. Dr. Neal also spent one year at St. Xavier University in Chicago as the Interim Director of Instrumental Ensembles, and three years teaching high school and middle school band in the Humble Independent School District in Houston, Texas.
J. Corey Francis
Assistant Director of Bands
Director of the Panther Marching & Concert Band
J. Corey Francis currently serves the Assistant Director of Bands at Eastern Illinois University, joining the faculty in 2012. His responsibilities at EIU include directing the Panther Marching Band, the Panther Basketball Band, and teaching courses in instrumental arranging. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Francis served as Director of Athletic Bands at Indiana State University. There, he oversaw all aspects of the athletic band program. Under his direction the Marching Sycamores performed at the Bands of America Super Region in Indianapolis, as well as performed the National Anthem at the BOA Grand National Finals.
Currently, Mr. Francis is completing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Southern Mississippi, where he studies with Thomas V. Fraschillo. Mr. Francis also holds a Master of Music degree in Wind Band Conducting from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Murray State University (KY).
Prior to his arrival to USM, Mr. Francis served as Director of Pep Bands at Georgia State University. Under his direction, the Pep Bands earned the acclaim and praise of officials from the Colonial Athletic Association, as well as the administration and alumni of Georgia State University. Additionally, Mr. Francis served on the staffs of Alpharetta (GA) High School and Taylor County (KY) Schools.
As a conductor, Mr. Francis’s enjoys working on contemporary and traditional masterworks of the Wind Band and Chamber Winds. Current projects include conducting and lecturing on Ecstatic Waters by Steven Bryant, and completing his dissertation on Jonathan Newman’s Symphony No. 1: My Hands are a City. Mr. Francis’s focus on energetic and musical performances has led him to become an active clinician and guest conductor. His article “Creating a Expressive Gesture Palette” is due for publication in the March 2011 issue of “The Instrumentalist.”
Mr. Francis is an active marching band drill designer for schools in the Southern US. Arrangements of his, including "El Toro Caliente" and "Thriller," have been performed by high school and collegiate ensembles.
Mr. Francis holds membership in the National Band Association, The Collegiate Band Director’s National Association, the College Music Society, the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, Kappa Kapp Psi, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.