Deep Dish Music Festival


Columbia College Chicago hosts an invitational music festival for high school and community college ensembles who perform contemporary, urban, and popular music. At the 2020 festival, students will perform for Columbia faculty, take a master class with Cassandra O’Neal and Charles Rick Heath IV, and participate in workshops on topics like music technology and music business.

About Deep Dish

Each spring, Columbia College Chicago hosts an all-day invitational music festival in the heart of Chicago. This event gathers high school and community college music groups from across the Midwest to celebrate and cultivate their unique musical talents. Growing out of the Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music and Jazz Studies programs, this festival is designed specifically for ensembles who perform pop, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, rock, gospel, and Latin music.

Participation in this invitational festival includes:

  • Performances of attendee ensembles adjudicated by Columbia faculty.
  • Workshops led by Chicago music professionals on topics such as music technology, music business, and music theory specific to contemporary, urban, and popular music.
  • Master classes with Cassandra O’Neal and Charles Rick Heath IV.
  • A concert featuring Columbia’s leading ensembles with special guests.
  • And of course, plenty of pizza!

Space is limited, so apply now! We hope to see your ensemble soon.

The 2020 Deep Dish Music Festival Will Feature Cassandra O’Neal and Charles Rick Heath IV

This year’s featured clinicians are Cassandra O’Neal and Charles Rick Heath IV, who will adjudicate, perform, and lead a workshop for festival attendees. Cassandra O’Neal is a keyboardist and bandleader who has worked and toured with some of the greatest stars of R&B, gospel, and pop music—artists like Prince, Jay-Z, and Mary J. Blige. Chicago native Charles Rick Heath IV is a drummer, educator, and producer who currently performs with Ramsey Lewis, and has performed and recorded with artists like Barry Harris, Robert Irving III, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 

  • Fees

    These prices include participation in the day’s events, and a Deep Dish Pizza Lunch for all participating students, and two bandleaders or chaperones.   

    • 2–10 ensemble members: $200 
    • 11–20 ensemble members: $300
    • 21–30 Ensemble Members: $400 

    Some scholarships are available! Please indicate whether you’d like to be considered for a scholarship on your application.   

  • About the Music Department

    Columbia College Chicago’s Music Department focuses on contemporary, urban, jazz and popular music, and the creation of original musical work for the stage, screen and beyond. In core classes, students learn theory, composition, improvisation, arranging, technology, history, analysis, and aural skills. Instrumental, vocal, and composition private lessons complete the curriculum, designed to prepare students for collaborative music-making experiences in ensembles that play a variety of styles and genres, including the performance of original student generated songs, compositions, and productions.

    Learn more about Music at Columbia. 

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Will the festival provide backline to performers? 

    Yes, each performance room will have at least the following: a drum set, a bass amp, two guitar amps, an electronic keyboard, an acoustic piano, and 5 microphones for vocalists or soloists.  If your ensemble needs more than that, we’ll likely be able to provide the gear you need - registered ensembles will be given an opportunity to tell us their additional equipment needs.  

    What food will be provided by the festival? 

    Current plans are to provide deep dish pizza (cheese, sausage), plus a salad and pasta option.  Registered ensembles will be given the opportunity to tell us about any dietary restrictions, so we can sufficiently prepare for everyone’s needs! 

    Are the facilities wheelchair accessible? 

    Yes, all spaces are either on the ground floor, or accessible by elevator.  Be aware that most students will be asked to travel about a block between campus buildings. 

    How can I pay for my ensemble’s participation in the festival? 

    Accepted ensembles will be sent an invoice detailing instructions for payment – you'll need to mail a check to Columbia College Chicago by February 7th. 

    Is there parking available for festival attendees? 

    There is no free parking available for the festival – there are several paid lots in the area for cars to park during the day, but as it is a business day downtown, busses will likely need to travel a short distance to find a lot that can hold them.   

Friday, March 6, 2020
Columbia College Chicago Music Center 


Applications for the 2020 Deep Dish Music Festival are closed! Accepted ensembles will be contacted soon.

  Questions? Contact   


Thank you to our Deep Dish Music Festival sponsors:

James E. Kopp, Jr. and Marilyn Kopp

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