Northern Illinois University Professor, Alum Win Grammy Awards

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chance the Rapper stole the spotlight at the Grammys on Sunday, but he wasn’t the only person from Illinois to bring home the gold.

Dan Nichols and Matt Ponio did the engineering work on Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion’s album, “Third Coast Percussion | Steve Reich,” which won the Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.

Ponio, a Northern Illinois University graduate, was the assistant engineer and piano tuner for the album. Nichols, head of recording services for the NIU School of Music, was the sound engineer.

“I’ve been what feels like halfway around the world with these guys. I’ve been to Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, California,” Nichols said. “They’re a fantastic group of musicians, and more important than that, they’re a fantastic group of people.”

Nichols had some advice for students.

“Going to school and thinking about your career and where you might end up, you can end up in the wildest, most unexpected places. So make sure to have a really broad definition of what you think success might be for you,” he said.

Nichols has worked on several of Third Coast Percussion’s albums, but he was not able to join them in Los Angeles for the big night. He was in LaSalle-Peru, recording an orchestra and choir concert.

“My phone started blowing up part of the way through the Lacrimosa movement, and I managed to look at it at the end of the concert, and it was just students and alums congratulating me on the win. So it’s very, very exciting,” Nichols said.

Now, Nichols is waiting to meet his gold-plated trophy.

“I imagine I’ll throw it on the mantle,” he said.

Nichols said attending the Grammys wouldn’t have been a cheap date, with tickets going for $300 and up.

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