Helskinki Chamber Choir Presents World Premier of ‘State of the Union’

HKK-2011-8616The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts presents “State of the Union” performed by the Helsinki Chamber Choir, on Sunday, October 2, 7:30 PM.

“State of the Union” (SOTU), by Eugene Birman and Scott Diel, is a 40-minute operatic work for twelve voices, a bold new opera addressing the pressing political and environmental issues of our time.

According to the Rabbit Island Foundation,The opera condemns no one and everyone, yet its finale doles out redemption to those open to it. SOTU is four characters – the environment, the rich, the middle class, and the poor – meeting and interacting over seven movements. It reflects a belief that many of our problems stem from how we view and treat one another. As a society we too often equate wealth with wisdom, and poverty with personal shortcomings. This work pushes forward the genre of classical music and also advances the medium to underscore a new subject: humanity’s relationship to its natural environment in the context of modern society.”

According to Birman, “SOTU’s relationship to the very beginning of opera is quite strong, in that opera was invented as a genre for communicating revolutionary ideas. But political and conventional limitations on the form were nevertheless too limiting, so it was quickly subsumed into ‘music as entertainment’. SOTU is commentary on that role, for while the piece will be entertaining, I see its purpose as bringing opera back to what it was meant to be… as a Gesamtkunstwerk with a specific purpose, not just one that brings together art forms for the delight of audiences. I think that the genre needs this shake-up because it has, with each new addition, become more and more anachronistic and baroque—ultimately, irrelevant and silly.”

The opera was conceiveEugene_and_Scottd in 2015 while Juilliard-trained composer Eugene Birman and librettist Scott Diel spent sixteen days on Rabbit Island. Part opera seria, part satire, SOTU considers environmental crisis, economic inequality, and the general obliviousness of society’s confused march forward.

The Helsinki Chamber Choir is the leading vocal group from Finland, and one of the most notable contemporary choirs in all of Europe. Rabbit Island, a 91 acre forested island in Lake Superior three miles east of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, is held under a conservation easement granted by the Keweenaw Land Trust, and supports programs fostering science, art, preservation and recreation. Rabbit Island is a laboratory for artists to consider the modern relationship between art and the environment, and this is what Birman and Diel have done.

Birman and Diel will present their work, State of the Union (SOTU), in its world premier tour first in Marquette, Michigan, on the campus of Northern Michigan University, then on to the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts in Houghton, MI then Interlochen, Michigan, and culminating in New York City. SOTU has been brought to life thanks to generous support from the Rabbit Island Foundation, Northern Michigan University’s Northern Nights concert series, DeVos Art Museum, the Finlandia Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, and the U.P. Beaumier Heritage Center.

We are particularly excited to welcome the Helsinki Chamber Choir to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where a large percentage of residents can trace their roots back to Finnish immigrants.  In the U.P. we proudly celebrate Finnish language, culture, sauna, surnames and, of course, sisu.

The Helsinki Chamber Choir (Helsingin kamarikuoro) was founded in 1962 as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir and assumed its current name in 2005. It is currently Finland’s only professional chamber choir. The choir’s Artistic Director from 2005–2007 was Kimmo Hakola. Since 2007 Nils Schweckendiek has been responsible for the group’s artistic planning. While its wide-ranging repertoire includes music from the Renaissance to the present day, the Helsinki Chamber Choir is particularly highly regarded for its work with new music. The choir regularly commissions new works and has given over 50 world premieres in the seasons since 2005, as well as more than 30 Finnish first performances. The choir appears frequently at major Finnish music festivals and collaborates with orchestras and Baroque and contemporary music ensembles. Recent touring has included concerts in Russia, Estonia and Belgium.

The Helsinki Chamber Choir’s concerts are regularly broadcast on radio and television, both nationally and internationally. Particular highlights have been televised performances on the international cultural channel ARTE of Michael Haydn’s Requiem in 2006 and Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Vigilia in 2013.

The Helsinki Chamber Choir’s recording of Magnus Lindberg’s Graffiti (with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo) was nominated for a Grammy in the contemporary music category in 2010. During its days as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir, the group recorded a number of CDs for the Ondine label, including Rautavaara’s complete works for mixed a cappella choir. The choir’s most recent appearance on CD is in the world premiere recording of Veli-Matti Puumala’s opera Anna Liisa (to be released in May 2015). A number of other recordings will appear in the near future.

Since 2012 the Helsinki Chamber Choir has been a member of Tenso, the association of European professional chamber choirs.

The Finnish Radio Chamber Choir’s principal conductors were Harald Andersén, Kaj-Erik Gustafsson, Ilmo Riihimäki, Eric-Olof Söderström and Timo Nuoranne. Alongside Nils Schweckendiek, in recent years the choir has worked with conductors including Kaspars Putnins, Fredrik Malmberg, Eric-Olof Söderström, Andres Mustonen, Olari Elts, Rachid Safir, Tim Brown, Anne Azéma, Aapo Häkkinen, James Wood and Rinaldo Alessandrini.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Michigan Tech Ticketing Services at the Central Ticket Office (SDC), at 906-487-2073, or go online at rozsa.mtu.edu.

By Bethany Jones

First A-Space Gallery show of the 2016-17 Season September 30th

KMcCloud_Img2_99 Bird CallsThe Rozsa Center and Department of Visual and Performing Arts presents the first Rozsa A-Space Gallery show of the 2016-17 Season: Flats and Rounds, an exhibition of the work of two artists, Kathleen McCloud and Sarah Hewitt.

Flats and Rounds opens with a public reception on Friday, September 30, from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM, and will continue through November 18. The reception is free and open to the public, and gallery hours are MondayFriday, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM and Saturday from 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

Hewitt will also create a weaving installation on-site, in the Rozsa Lobby, from October 20 – 26th. A public lecture by Hewitt to discuss her work further will be held in the Rozsa on the evening of Tuesday, October 25.

This exhibition brings together many genres of art; installation, painting, weaving, printmaking, papermaking and sculpture. Combinations, permutations and someplace in between both two-dimensional (flat) and three-dimensional (round) works of art challenge the labels the viewer places on artists and artworks. VPA Assistant Professor and A-Space gallery manager Lisa Gordillo elaborates: “Hewitt and McCloud explore single and multi-dimensional space, gender mythology, and cultural storytelling in this exhibit.”

Kathleen McCloud, a visual artist currently living in Santa Fe New Mexico, works in painting, printmaking, sculpture and installation mediums. McCloud writes, “My paintings and print-based paper constructions expand upon history and the mythologizing that insinuates into the cultural story over time. I reconfigure the characters into a variety of relationships and environments to create globalized narratives that address current events and the replay of history.

The melting pot of characters is reflected in the diverse materials used to make them, which include mixed papers, fabric, plastic and wax. As in fairy tales and myths, these paper characters appear as enchanters- both ephemeral and powerful transformers. Their territory is the borderlands between the known and the unknown, raising questions about home and what it means to be connected a this time.”

Sarah Hewitt is an artist who currently lives in New York but calls northern New Mexico and mid-coast Maine home. Her work has been exhibited throughout the country. Upcoming exhibitions include Kindred Beasts at the Everson Museum, and Flats and Rounds. Hewitt has received awards and residencies from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Vermont Studio Center, Purchase College/SUNY, Quimby Colony and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Hewitt describes her work this way:

She vows
To make plastic art
Redefine plastic art
To make you love plastic art
To challenge and bewitch you with what you think is formal or plastic
To make you bow to her craft
Redefine craft
To weave
To weave your mind
To weave your mind into confusion
To drag you into the sacred without your consent

For more information please contact Lisa Gordillo, Assistant Professor, Visual and Performing Arts, 906-487- 3096, lijohnso@mtu.edu.

Read more at Tech Today, by Bethany Jones

Musical Variety Concert Honors Lowther Family

JohnBirutaWeddingPlease join us for Music O Rama, an annual musical variety concert, that will be held this year in honor of a couple that has spent many years participating in the Arts at Michigan Tech.

This concert is sponsored by John and Biruta Lowther, in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.

The Lowthers and their family members took part in many of Michigan Tech’s various music ensembles. The celebration will feature performances by conScience, Superior Wind Symphony, and Jazz Lab Band.

According to John Lowther, “We wanted to celebrate our 50th anniversary and express our appreciation to the music department for the years of music our family has enjoyed. I played in the KSO for a number of years. Our son played in the Pep Band and sang in the Concert Choir. Biruta and I enjoyed singing together in the Concert Choir.”

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts presents “Music O Rama” on Saturday, October 1, at 7:30 PM at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

According to Jared Anderson, Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department and Director of Choral Activities, “Music-O- Rama is a fast-paced music variety show that features many of the instrumental and vocal ensembles at Michigan Tech. Along with performances by the Jazz Lab Band, Superior Wind Symphony, and conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers, this event will feature student led combos and small ensembles as well as compositions from sound students in the Visual and Performing Arts Department. This year the concert will feature music by Louis Armstrong, Gustav Holst, and John Philip Sousa along with selections from the musical theatre stage. This annual concert is quickly becoming an audience favorite. It’s a great way to kick off the music season at the Rozsa Center.”

Tickets are on sale now, $13 for adults, $5 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at Rozsa.mtu.edu, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Calumet Theatre Box Office.

By Bethany Jones

Artist Lali Khalid on “Being Between”

Lali small“Being Between,” artist Lali Khalid’s photographs of identity, displacement and home, are on display in Rozsa Gallery, A-Space, through Thursday, Sept. 22.

The gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday.

A special lecture by the artist is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 in M&M U115. The gallery reception follows from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Rozsa Gallery (lower level).

Khalid, a Pakistani-American artist, holds degrees from The National College of Fine Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, and The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. “Being Between” is the first exhibit of the Rozsa Galleries new “Independent Artist Series.”

For additional information, contact Lisa Gordillo.

 

Free Outdoor Concert on Rozsa Lawn

d81509f0f88714620c9a90b5381a261eea3303dfBring your lawn chairs, bring your blankets as the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts presents “An Old Fashioned Twilight Concert,” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 on the Rozsa/Walker lawn.

The free outdoor concert is put on by Michael Christianson, Michigan Tech’s director of bands, with a performance by the Superior Wind Symphony, in which they will celebrate the birthday of the godfather of band concerts, John Philip Sousa.

Spend a beautiful fall evening full of band music outdoors on the lawn. In the event of rain, the show will move inside, to the McArdle Theatre on the second floor of the Walker Center.

Christianson says, “at the zenith of the wind band’s popularity, crowds would flock to the park to hear the great John Philip Sousa play a mixture of marches, folk songs, popular music of recent times, masterworks and featured soloists from within the band….outdoors.”

Christianson says the concern, held one week before Sousa’s birthday, will reference music of that golden era, (Sousa, Holst, Kreisler) but will also update some items (John Williams, Frank Ticheli, Hoagy Carmichael) to be more pertinent today.

“Bring your blanket, your dinner and spread out on the lawn as you enjoy a classic Band moment with Michigan Tech’s Superior Wind Symphony,” he says.

More information is available online.

Read more at Tech Today, by Bethany Jones

Breaksk8 coming to Parade of Nations, Rozsa

The Parade of Nations along with the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts present the high-energy breakdancers-on- wheels that are “Breaksk8” on Saturday, September 17.

In addition to skating in the Parade of Nations, Breakst8 will perform at 7:30 p.m. on the Rozsa Center stage.

BreakSk8 has amazed audiences around the globe with their unique style of entertainment on wheels. Never before has roller skating and break dancing been combined in such an acrobatic, athletic, artistic and precise display of talent. Tickets are on sale now, $10 for adults, $5 for youth and free for Michigan Tech Students with the Experience Tech Fee. You can get tickets by calling 7-2073 or online.

In addition, the Parade of Nations and the Keweenaw Roller Girls roller derby team present an “open skate”  from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the Houghton County Arena. This “bring your own skates/blades” event is free and open to all ages and levels of experience.

For more information on Breaksk8, visit their website.

Read more on Tech Today, by Bethany Jones

Theatre Auditions Tonight

Tonight is the final night of auditions for the Tech Theatre Company’s first two shows of the season. Auditions are at 7 p.m. in the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Building.

“Silent Sky” by Lauren Gunderson— Roles for one man and four women.

“The Resistable Rise of Aurture Ui.”— Roles for three or more women and 19 or more men.

No preparation or monologues are required to audition. For specific information on each play check out the original Tech Today story.

Theatre Auditions Next Week

VPA_AuditionsMichigan Tech Theatre Company will hold auditions next week for two show to be performed in the Fall Semester.

Auditions for both plays will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31 and Thursday Sept. 1, in the McArdle Theatre, second floor of the Walker Building. Call backs will be held as needed.

Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson:

Both Science and fiction, “Silent Sky” blends the discovery of how to measure the universe with the essence of the discover’s life story. Set against the turmoil of the cry for social justice at the beginning of the 20th century, the chronicle of Henrietta Leavitt counterpoints the power of a passion for work with the desire for love and family. Five parts – four women and one man.

Six Performances, October 13-15 and 20-22. Rehearsals will take place Sunday through Friday evenings. All actors will not be required at all rehearsals. No preparation is required for auditions which will include games and reading from the script.

The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui” by Bertolt Brecht.

This dark comedy, set in ’30s Chicago, tells the story of a strongman’s rise to the head of the Cauliflower Turst that has many parallels around the world today.

Written as a parable about Hitler’s rise to power, the story applies to any situation in which a charismatic leader exploits the economic fears of the little guy to seize more and more power.

There’s jazz, gun-molls, shady backroom deals and lots of dark laughs.

There are parts for three or more women (up to six possible) and 19 or more men (up to 30 possible … one singing part—baritone preferred). There are also two gender-irrelevant roles.

No monologues required for audition, just come ready to read and dressed for movement. No previous experience required. There will be three performances Nov. 10-12.

Read more at Tech Today, by Visual and Performing Arts

Rozsa Calendars for 2016-17 Season Now Available

The Rozsa Calendars are here. Once again this year there are both full-size wall calendars and the handy pocket/desk calendars that fit neatly in purses, pockets and of course by your phone on your desk.

Pick up one of each or even both at the Rozsa Center or any of the more than 120 local businesses who display and distribute them each year.

Featured this year are eight Rozsa Presenting Series events, more than 27 Visual and Performing Arts events including music, theater and visual arts events and the ever-popular 41 North Film festival.

Season Ticket Packages went on sale Monday with the best discounts available on all the season has to offer. From BreakSk8, to two nights of Russian National Ballet, to Cirque Mechanics: Pedal Punk to “West Side Story,” so many great shows at the Rozsa and all available to you at 20 to 40 percent off single ticket prices if you buy early.

Season tickets are available for a limited time only, so find out more today. Not interested in a Season Ticket Package? Single ticket sales begin Sept. 1.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Michigan Tech Ticketing Services at the Central Ticket Office 7- 2073, or go online.

To make it easier for Michigan Tech faculty and staff to get your copies of the calendars, you can request a calendar be delivered directly to your campus mailbox. Click on this link and fill out the google form. We will gladly send a calendar to you via campus mail.

Read more at Tech Today, by Bethany Jones

Jared Anderson Appointed Chair of VPA

Jared Anderson has accepted the position of chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts for the period July 2016 to June 2019. He came to Michigan Tech in 2010, after teaching at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. His expertise is music, specifically choral conducting, as well as piano and music theory. Anderson’s resume shows significant experience as a conductor and as a performer with, among other groups, the Dale Warland Singers in St. Paul, Minnesota. This range of experience has served Anderson well in strengthening and developing the various vocal ensembles at Michigan Tech since 2010.

Anderson has served as interim department chair since December 2013, and was recommended for the chair after a departmental search was conducted last spring. Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts Bruce Seely expressed his pleasure at the recommendation of the search committee. “Jared is the type of person who struck me—and others—as a possible future department chair almost from the time he arrived on campus.”

Seely added that Anderson brought not only a strong interest in music, but an equally strong desire to connect music with the other areas of emphasis within the department—art, theatre and sound. At other universities, such a collection of artistic interests are not often located in such close proximity, but Michigan Tech seeks to take advantage of this unique opportunity for co-existence.

 

Read more at Tech Today, by College of Science and Arts