All posts by bjones

An Unforgettable Journey

Michigan Tech choir members in front of a statue of Nelson Mandela, South Africa, May 2017.

The Michigan Tech Concert Choir, along with friends and family, spent two weeks sharing their music with the people of South Africa. What they received in return, was life changing.

In May, 45 members of the choir, along with 29 guests, embarked on a two-week concert tour of South Africa. The group traveled to Chicago on May 2 and boarded a plane the following day for the 25-hour trip to Pretoria. In addition to concert stops in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Soweto and Cape Town, the they spent three nights in the African countryside at the Cradle Moon Safari Lodge. The group ranged in age from 14 to 87 and included 12 current Michigan Tech students and 19 current or retired faculty/staff members among the singers.

The group performed a total of five concerts; at the University of Pretoria, Holy Cross Anglican Church in Soweto, Hillbrow Theatre in Johannesburg, Old Apostolic Church in Khayelitsha (Cape Town) and Phandulawazi High School, Mitchell’s Plain (Cape Town). In addition to the concerts, the choir participated in two church services and five choral workshops and exchanges with local choirs.

Michigan Tech Concert Choir Director Jared Anderson poses with a new friend during a visit to a South African school. The choir spent two weeks in South Africa in May.

Michigan Tech Concert Choir Director Jared Anderson poses with a new friend during a visit to a South African school. The choir spent two weeks in South Africa in May.

Choir Director Jared Anderson, chair of the Michigan Tech Department of Visual and Performing Arts says the choir also embarked on a pair of outreach activities. “We worked with the Amy Biehl Foundation in Cape Town, with pre-K through grade 12 students in an after-school program that included music,” he said. “At the Baphumelele Children’s Home, also in Cape Town, our group interacted with orphans, including many who are the victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa.”

Anderson said the workshops and outreach activities were as significant experiences as were the concerts themselves. “We were able to interact with people who were in difficult situations, but they always had a smile and a great outlook. Something that we could all learn from. Our outreach and concerts all occurred in areas where most Western choirs never visit. We performed in the townships, in churches and schools in the middle of areas that dealt with a lot of poverty.”

Student Spencer Carlson of Royal Oak, Michigan, calls the experience “indescribable … this has changed my life in ways I never thought about before the trip,” he says. “Living, singing and dancing with the South African people, experiencing a bit of their life … I can’t formulate the words. I now have a little bit of Africa in me and I hope this feeling says with me for the rest of my life.”

Michigan Tech student Spencer Carlson learns some moves during the Michigan Tech Concert Choir's tour of South Africa in May.

Michigan Tech student Spencer Carlson learns some moves during the Michigan Tech Concert Choir’s tour of South Africa in May.

Anderson says the exchanges between the Michigan Tech singers and their South African hosts were indeed “life changing.”

“I can’t remember concert experiences that were more varied and exciting for our singers. The choirs that we collaborated with welcomed us with open arms and warm hearts. The choir will never forget the experience of singing side by side with people who sing with such spirit,” says Anderson.

Scott Sviland was impressed by the audience participation. “It was there from the first song on,” the chemical engineering major from Escanaba says. “It was in these moments where you really see how reserved American audiences are compared to audiences in South Africa.” Sviland says this was especially true when the Tech choir would sing a South African piece.

“I now have a little bit of Africa in me …” Spencer Carlson

“When we performed ‘Hlonolofatsa’ and once we started dancing, the crowd went wild. The audiences would make every single performance special and created a truly magical environment.”

Sviland was not alone in feeling the trip was about so much more than music. “The people of South Africa have taught me what it truly means to live life. The way many of them live without worrying what people thing of them is now something to which I now aspire.”

Anderson said each choir tour ends up being an incredible adventure, but there was something special about South Africa.

“Coming home from South Africa I saw things with new eyes. I know that I am a changed person and I know that many individuals in the choir feel the same way.”

Formed in 1980, the Michigan Tech Concert Choir is made up of Michigan Tech students, faculty, staff, retirees and community members. Since its inception, international touring has been an important part of the Concert Choir experience. To date, the choir has toured and performed in Mexico, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Russia, Dalmatia, China, and now South Africa.


Gordillo Presents Exhibit “Prohibido Orinar Aqui” in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Lisa Gordillo, Assistant Professor, Visual and Performing Arts, presents a new collection of sculpture and installation at the Centro Cultural Efrain Recinos in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, July 15-Aug. 1. The exhibit, titled “Prohibido Orinar Aqui,” was developed from Gordillo’s spring exhibit, “ChickenBus,” in the Rozsa Gallery. The works of art in the exhibit are inspired by US-Guatemalan relations.

Gordillo is also sculptor-in-residence at Tierra Adentro, the International Poetry Festival of Aguacatan, Guatemala. This year’s festival is dedicated to immigrants and displaced people. Gordillo will create an art installation, titled “Caminante” (Someone Walking) along the Aguacatan river and a migrating book as part of the festival.

Antigua - Guatemala - January 24, 2013: Traditional Guatemalan local "Chicken Bus" station in Antigua, Guatemala. It is located behind the busy street market in Antigua.
Antigua – Guatemala – January 24, 2013: Traditional Guatemalan local “Chicken Bus” station in Antigua, Guatemala. It is located behind the busy street market in Antigua.


Rozsa’s Jennings Earns National Honor

Mary bw 6.1Jennings Earns National Honor for Strengthening the Rozsa Center’s Community Ties

Mary Jennings, Director of Programming and Development at Michigan Tech’s Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, has earned a place among 25 national arts professionals chosen to participate in the third cohort of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Leadership Fellows Program.

This program invites arts professionals who show outstanding commitment to building collaborative processes in the performing arts to participate in a 20-month intensive Arts Leadership mentoring and training program. “The Leadership Fellows Program examines core questions around content and scope of leadership development for the performing arts field. It highlights, supports and helps participants understand and define the many reaches of leadership and its capabilities through peer-to-peer mentoring and creating a community of support,” says Mario Garcia Durham, president and CEO of APAP. In addition to a curriculum-based, five-day intensive at the University of Southern California (USC), the program focuses on the opportunity for participants to learn from and mentor each other over the course of the 20-month arc through annual gatherings at the APAP|NYC conference in New York City and continuous engagement in an online resource and discussion platform.

According to Jennings,

“To be a accepted into their national Leadership Fellows Program is a great honor and privilege. The Rozsa Center has long been an APAP member, and former Rozsa Directors have regularly attended their annual conference to find exceptional touring artists to bring to the Keweenaw as part of the Rozsa Presenting Series. The relationships and opportunities cultivated through our involvement with APAP have been invaluable to the efforts of the Rozsa Center to bring enriching, entertaining, and elite level performances to our Upper Peninsula audiences.”

This honor is no surprise to those working with Jennings at the Rozsa Center. While serving as interim Rozsa Director in 2014, then named Director of Programming and Development in 2015, Jennings created more than a dozen successful collaborative engagement activities. From backstage tours and master classes with local dance schools and the Russian National Ballet, to coordinating a Q&A for local media, Michigan Tech communications students and professionals with a senior editor of The Atlantic, to interactive displays in the Rozsa Lobby involving copper country youth robotics teams and Mind Trekkers during the Cirque Mechanics show in the finale of the 2017 Presenting Series season, she has invited many organizations and individuals to find common ground, across diverse fields, to make arts more integral to our community.

APAP Leadership Fellows Program

Building upon the program’s inaugural launch in 2015, the APAP Leadership Fellows Program’s goal is to expand the knowledge and proficiency among professionals in the performing arts field. Kenneth Foster, director of USC’s Arts Leadership Program, and Scott Stoner, APAP’s vice president of programs and resources, are co-directors of the Leadership Fellows Program. A core group of industry professionals will also lead the cohort and guide them through the program including: Dan Froot, producer/performance artist; Stephanie McKee, executive artistic director for Junebug Productions Inc.; Andre Perry, executive director of the Englert Theatre; Beatrice Thomas, multidisciplinary artist, artist coach and consultant; Cathy Zimmerman, creative consultant.

Cohort III (June 2017-January 2019)

  • Linsey Bostwick, senior producer, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi – New York, NY
  • Andre Bouchard, principal, Walrus Arts Management and Consulting, LLC – Vancouver, WA
  • Ben Cohen, senior agent, Cadenza Artists, Los Angeles, CA
  • Brett Elliott, executive director, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center – Old Saybrook, CT
  • Liza Green, associate director, NC State LIVE – Raleigh, NC
  • Leslie Hanlon, director of fundraising and marketing, Fine Arts Series at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University – St. Joseph, MN
  • Mary Jennings, director of programming and development, Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts – Houghton, MI
  • Chanon Judson, associate artistic director and BOLD coordinator, Urban Bush Women Inc. – Brooklyn, NY
  • Joshua Kane, artist and founder, Wild Baboo Productions LLC – New York, NY
  • Leah Keith, manager of artists and attractions and booking agent, Opus 3 Artists – New York, NY
  • Damia Khanboubi, program associate, Junebug Productions – New Orleans, LA
  • Michael Liu, director of Chinese Community Initiatives, Flushing Town Hall – Flushing, NY
  • Sam Livingston, director, Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall – New York, NY
  • Miro Magloire, artistic and executive director, New Chamber Ballet – New York, NY
  • Stephen Manuszak, program director for international initiatives, Arts Midwest – Minneapolis, MN
  • Emily Marks, founder and director, Lionheart Youth Theatre – Austin, TX
  • Jack McLarnan, manager of Fine Arts Programs, Seattle Theatre Group – Seattle, WA
  • Heena Patel, founder and CEO, MELA Arts Connect – Edison, NJ
  • Ronee Penoi, associate producer, Octopus Theatricals – Princeton, NJ
  • Theresa Remick, managing director, Performance Center at Saint Mary’s University – Winona, MN
  • Sarah Rodriguez, associate director of Institutional Giving, Apollo Theater – Harlem, NY
  • Bonnie Schock, executive director, Sheldon Theatre – Red Wing, MN
  • Alexandra Rachelle Siclait, professional development program manager, Creative Capital – New York, NY
  • Daniel Singh, executive artistic director, Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company – Washington, DC
  • Dexter Story, artist in residence/production consultant, Community Coalition – Los Angeles, CA

The APAP Leadership Fellows Program is partly funded by the American Express Foundation, The Wallace Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information about the program please visit www.apap365.org.

About APAP, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals

APAP, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, based in Washington, D.C., is the national service, advocacy and membership organization dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts presenting field and the professionals who work within it. Our 1,600 national and international members represent leading performing arts centers, municipal and university performance facilities, nonprofit performing arts centers, culturally specific organizations, foreign governments, as well as artist agencies, managers, touring companies, and national consulting practices that serve the field, and a growing roster of self-presenting artists.

As a leader in the field, APAP works to effect change through advocacy, professional development, resource sharing and civic engagement. APAP is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization governed by a volunteer board of directors and led by President & CEO Mario Garcia Durham. In addition to presenting the annual APAP|NYC conference – the world’s leading forum and marketplace for the performing arts (Jan. 12-16, 2018) – APAP continues to be the industry’s leading resource, knowledge and networking destination for the advancement of performing arts presenting.