All posts by bjones

Scrambling all the Way: 50 Years of Be-striped Irreverence

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Huskies Pep Band Concert Celebrates “50 Years of Be-Striped Irreverence!”

The Huskies Pep Band presents Scrambling all the Way: 50 Years of Be-striped Irreverence next Friday, October 13, at 7:30 PM in the Rozsa Center. The Huskies Pep Band (HPB) is a Michigan Tech point of pride and one of the most lauded (and loud!) pep bands in the Midwest. Members dressed in “bumble-bee” stripes perform in unscripted and unrestrained glory at concerts, athletic events, parades, and special events all around Houghton, and support Michigan Tech teams on the road as well. The Huskies Pep Band is a nationally-known Division I pep band of nearly 250 members that performs at all home football, basketball, and hockey games. The band was selected as the host band to the WCHA Final Five Tournament in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

What can you expect from the Pep Band “live and In-concert?” According to Director of Bands Michael Christianson,

“On this date, or likely some other one 50 years ago, Michigan Technological University’s Director of Bands Don Keranen decided to transform the Huskies Pep Band into a bestriped, scrambling, irreverent, annoying, distracting force for both good (for our athletic teams) and not as good (for the opposing teams). Since then, the HPB has performed at many arenas and stadiums (including some from which they have been banned for creating a “home atmosphere” for Michigan Tech’s teams), learned more than 8 songs, developed the capacity to breathe fire, been a P.E. credit for many movement-challenged students, and reached the age of 50 as a “Scramble” band!”

Christianson adds, “To celebrate, our yearly Pep Band Concert will feature tunes from all 50 years of scramblin’ (as well as several from our brand-new CD, plus photos and videos from many years. Our world-famous HPB Swag will be available for purchase at intermission, and we fully intend to have well-known guests with us for the event, as soon as they make bail. The concert is Friday October 13, there will likely be a ghoulish flavor to the evening…bwahahaha. Actual Quotes:

I didn’t know such sounds were possible!”- Marlee Matlin.

 

Vertical stripes aren’t always slimming.“- Anna Wintour.

 

Will there be another taco eating contest?”-Taco Bell”

 

Tickets for Scrambling all the Way: 50 Years of Pep at the Rozsa Center 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 Rozsa box office the night of the show. Please note that the Rozsa box office opens only two hours before performances.


Art or science, what has more power to change the future?

picasso at lapin agile 2Tech Theatre presents Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Art or science, what has more power to change the future? Come, have drinks with Einstein and Picasso, at the Lapin Agile, a bar in 1904 Paris, as delightfully imagined by actor, comic, musician, and yes, playwright, Steve Martin. In his first full-length play, Martin puts Picasso and Einstein on a funny and poignant collision-course to drink, laugh, and debate the genius and imagination that inspires both. Members of the audience can even “drink” at the bar! There will be seats at the café tables for a few lucky audience members each night, with refreshments and snacks served as part of the performance. Tech Theatre, Directed by Christopher Plummer, Professor, Visual and Performing Art,  presents Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a thoughtfully comedic look at the power of imagination at the start of the 20th Century, from the perspective of two giants of their time. The show will run for two weeks, Thursday – Saturday, October 12 – 14, and Wednesday – Friday, October 18 -20, at 7:30 pm in the McArdle Theatre.

A long-running and popular Off-Broadway play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile began with a first reading of the play at Steve Martin’s home. Tom Hanks read the role of Picasso, and Chris Sarandon read Einstein. Following further development, the play opened at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago on October 13, 1993. The show then enjoyed a successful run in Los Angeles and then made its way to New York City. The New York Times wrote, “It’s important to remember that the playwright of Picasso at the Lapin Agile is Steve Martin, stand-up comic, actor, writer, banjo player and something of a genius in his own right. So when big questions are being addressed, you can be sure that a layer of silliness is always in place (and, subversively, a layer of seriousness beneath that).”

 According to Alexandra Walker, Tech Theatre’s stage manager for Lapin Agile, “The play explores the question ‘what is the power of genius?’ As Picasso and Einstein argue over who will be able to change the century more with their work, we come to the conclusion: Both art and science are important, summed up in the words of Freddie, the Lapin Agile bartender/owner Freddie, proposing a toast with his patrons: ‘No movement will be as beautiful as the note across the staff, the line across the paper, or the idea across the mind.’”

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 mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or the night of the show at the McArdle door, which opens one hour prior to performances.


Mike Christianson in the news!

Michigan Tech’s very own Michael Christianson in the news. A great review of his Lincoln Center appearance with the legendary Fred Hersch two weeks ago.

“…Mike Christianson‘s trombone proved to be an indispensable voice, covering the low-middle ground with strength.”

https://www.allaboutjazz.com/fred-herschs-leaves-of-grass-at-jazz-at-lincoln-center-fred-hersch-by-dan-bilawsky.php


Faculty Present Listening to Parks, an NEA Imagine Your Parks Project

Photo taken at Isle Royal, by Christopher Plummer
Photo taken as part of the recording project on Isle Royale, by Christopher Plummer

What do you hear when you walk in the woods? What are the natural sounds and rythms of the forest? The lakes? The skies?

Christopher Plummer, Elizabeth Meyer, and Kent Cyr, faculty members in the Visual and Performing Arts Department of Michigan Tech, opened a multimedia and soundscape installation at the Duluth Children’s Museum this week, on Monday, September 25, 2017, in Duluth, MN, as a part of their “Listening to Parks” project, to explore those questions. The exhibit will be on display through October 15. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Park Service (NPS) announced $1,067,500 in support of 50 grants in 27 states, including an award of $20,000 to Michigan Technological University to support Listening to Parks, an Imagine Your Parks project. Visual and sound artists collaborated to create an immersive multimedia installation based on collected images, video, and audio recordings from the Keweenaw National Historic Park, Isle Royale National Park, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The installation will tour to sites in the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan, and then will culminate in an exhibition in the Rozsa Gallery A-Space, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts in December. There will be an opening reception on Friday, December 2 from 5:00 -6:30 PM, which is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are M-F 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM on Fridays. The recorded sounds from this project will also be used for a composition for orchestra by Libby Meyer to be performed by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra at the Rozsa Center on Saturday, December 9 at 7:30 PM.

 

NEA Chairman Jane Chu says “As part of the NEA’s 50th anniversary, this year we are celebrating the magnificence of America’s national cultural treasures through art, the Imagine Your Parks grant program unites our mission with the National Park Service by connecting art projects with the natural, historic and cultural settings of the National Park System and will inspire a new generation to discover these special places and experience our great heritage.”  “The ‘Imagine Your Parks’ grants are really helping us celebrate the NPS Centennial and the NEA’s 50th Anniversary with some incredibly diverse and interesting projects that continue to inspire more Americans of all backgrounds to connect with their national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The grants already awarded are already demonstrating the success of the program through a variety of inspiring projects. A new generation of artists is connecting to national parks through their work, and motivating others to do the same.”

 

According to Dr. Jared Anderson, Chair, Department of Visual and Performing Arts, “I am very proud to announce that Christopher Plummer, Elizabeth Meyer, and Kent Cyr, faculty members in the Visual and Performing Arts Department of Michigan Tech, received the first-ever award for Michigan Tech from the National Endowment for the Arts, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Parks Service as a part of the “Imagine your Parks” initiative.  This project will consist of gathering soundscape recordings from Isle Royale National Park and other National Parks in this region.  The recorded sounds will then be used for a composition for orchestra by Libby Meyer to be performed by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra.  The sounds will also be integrated into a traveling multi-media art installation that will be presented at various park visitors centers and the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts in 2017.”

 

Please visit the Listening to Parks website for more details.   Follow “Imagine Your Parks” on Twitter @NEAarts and @NatlParkService, #ImagineYourParks #NEASpring16.


Music-O-Rama: Celebrating Musical Variety at Michigan Tech

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 8.32.41 AMPlease join us for Music-O-Rama, an annual musical variety concert, celebrating the diversity, history, and variety of music at Michigan Tech. Performers from all of the major Michigan Tech music ensembles:  Jazz Lab Band, Superior Wind Symphony, Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers, Michigan Tech Concert Choir, and AstroSax; will appear throughout the hall, playing music from around the globe:  From America to  Latvia, France to Mexico, Brazil to Italy.

The concert will begin on a patriotic note with Igor Stravinsky’s arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner, for band and choir. Then enjoy more band and folk music selections including Yankee Doodle, Old Man River, and a Brazilian folk song, Samba-lelê, to stir memories and evoke bygone days. The Department of Visual and Performing Arts presents Music-O-Rama on Saturday, September 30, at 7:30 PM in the Rozsa Center.

This concert features performances from all of the auditioned music ensembles at Michigan Tech and shows how talented our students are.  Music-o-rama has become an audience favorite for the past number of years for its fast pace and varied repertoire.  I know that the audience will love the show.” There will be something for every musical taste, with composers including Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Ottorino Respighi, and Arturo Márquez.  The concert will end with the Superior Wind Symphony and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra combining for a performance of “The Pines of the Appian Way” from Respighi’s Pines of Rome. — Jared Anderson, associate professor of music, director of choral activities, and chair of vpa

Superior Wind Symphony, from their 2016 concert "Be Here Now. Mike Christianson, Director of Bands, conducting.
Superior Wind Symphony, from their 2016 concert “Be Here Now”. Mike Christianson, Director of Bands, conducting.

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 mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or the night of the show at the Rozsa Box Office, which opens two hours prior to performances.


Yearning to Breathe Free: Free Outdoor Band Concert on the Rozsa Lawn

36a3759f5b9f1ed8feb3d9d1573255db7f254918Bring your lawn chairs, bring your blankets: The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts is proud to present “Yearning to Breathe Free,” a free outdoor concert put on by Michael Christianson, Michigan Tech’s Director of Bands, with performances by the Superior Wind Symphony, in which they will celebrate the music of great composers who emigrated to the United States. Come spend a beautiful fall evening full of band music on Sunday, September 24th, 7:00 PM, on the Rozsa/Walker lawn. If it rains, the show will be inside, in the Rozsa Center.

According to Christainson, “Many of the great composers of iconic American band music came to the United States from overseas. They were drawn by the words of Emma Lazarus, inscribed in 1883 on the base of the Statue of Liberty:

 “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

We will perform mostly original works for winds by great composers who were immigrants to the US: Irving Berlin, Antonin Dvorak, Sergei Prokofiev, Darius Milhaud, Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, Percy Grainger, Chen Yi, Tania Leon , plus a Sousa march dedicated to his overseas friends! 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! Concert starts at 7:00PM, sunset starts at 8:01.”

For more information please visit us online at mtu.edu/rozsa


Mike Christianson Plays the Lincoln Center this Weekend

Mike Christianson, left, with the Superior Wind Symphony.
Mike Christianson, left, with the Superior Wind Symphony.

Mike Christianson plays trombone at the outset of this mini-documentary…

Michael Christianson, Michigan Tech’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts Director of Bands, will perform in “Jazz at the Lincoln Center” with the legendary Fred Hersch, Kurt Elling & Kate McGarry in a performance titled “Leaves of Grass,” in the Appel Room at the Lincoln Center in New York City, this Friday and Saturday, at 7:00 PM and 9:30 PM nightly.  Christianson, trombonist and fifth generation band leader, came to Michigan Tech from New York City in 2012. Originally from Fargo, ND, Mr. Christianson moved to the NYC area to become a low brass performer after finishing his degree in Moorhead. He has built a varied, interesting and successful career as a musician, recording, touring, and performing with the greatest musicians of his time: From Ray Charles to Philip Glass. He has also performed in over 30 Broadway shows, is an active participant in the NYC free-lance scene where he established the Gotham Wind Symphony, continues to make special new music performances including Philip Glass’ The Bacchae in Central Park, Henry Brant’s Orbits for 80 trombones at the Guggenheim, and Anthony Braxton’s Composition #19 for 100 tubas at the World Financial Center.

Notable accolades for Mike’s performances include:

“Among the instrumental high points: …Mike Christianson’s plunger-muted trombone on ‘My Lovers Suffocate Me’”. -Don Heckman- Los Angeles Times

“…superb Tricky Sam is now plunger-muted trombone by Mike Christianson.” -Marc Meyers- All About Jazz (CD review)

“…trombonist Mike Christianson playing elegant solos, …” –           Will Stewart- Ann Arbor News

“…top honors for the brass section go to Mike Christianson, whose sexy growl highlighted “Part X: My Lovers Suffocate Me”…” -Greg Haymes- Albany Times Union

According to the Lincoln Center, “Originally premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2005, Leaves of Grass celebrates the life and poetry of the American bard Walt Whitman, whose work redefined American poetry and had a significant, life-affirming impact on Hersch. In this Appel Room performance, vocalists Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry will reprise their acclaimed roles from the original project, presenting Whitman’s words with grace, emotion, and a lyrical sweetness that would have made Whitman proud. An eight-piece ensemble, featuring trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis, trombonist Mike Christianson, multi-reedist Bruce Williamson, tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, cellist Jody Redhage, bassist John Hébert, and drummer John Hollenbeck, will assist them in evoking the sweeping melodicism for which Hersch is renowned. It’s been over 160 years since Whitman wrote his epic masterwork, “Song of Myself,” which forms the centerpiece of Hersch’s Leaves of Grass, and its messages seemed almost alien in our society at the time. Now, its promotion of unapologetic love for one’s true self, appreciation of the present, wonder at the miracle of nature, and the openhearted love of all beings is especially timely and important. It is a powerful and unique experience to witness this profound poetry spun into song by one of today’s leading musical visionaries.”  For more information about the Leaves of Grass event, please visit Jazz at the Lincoln Center online at jazz.org

Grammy-winning composer and pianist Fred Hersch, who has been described by the New York Times as “a master who plays it his way” will travel to Houghton in March 2018. The Rozsa Center will present a film based on his life titled “The Ballad of Fred Hersch” on March 22, and The Fred Hersch Trio will perform on the Rozsa stage on March 24th. For tickets and more details about the Fred Hersch events at the Rozsa Center, please visit mtu.edu/rozsa.


Corn Husks in the Rio San Juan

Recent Michigan Tech Grad Joins Visual Art Faculty as Artist in Residence in Guatemala

Gordillo and Fisher installing a sculpture in the Rio San Juan (San Juan River).
Gordillo and Fisher installing a sculpture in the Rio San Juan (San Juan River).
Rio San Juan Dia 2
Gordillo and Fisher preparing to install sculpture in the Rio San Juan.

Lisa Gordillo, assistant professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Michigan Tech, traveled to  Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for her recent exhibition at the Centro Cultural Efrain Recinos from July 15-Aug. 1, and also worked on an installation for Tierra Adentro, the International Poetry Festival of Aguacatan, where she created a sculpture in the Rio San Juan (San Juan River). Hannah Fisher, ‘17, who graduated with a minor in Visual Art, joined Gordillo to help with the river sculpture (which involved sewing corn husks together in the water!), and to join the Aguacatan Poetry Festival also as an artist in residence. The river sculpture, called Chuchos del Rio, was created to be part of a conversation about immigration, as part of the poetry festival.

The exhibit in Quetzaltenango, titled “Prohibido Orinar Aqui,” was developed from Gordillo’s spring exhibit, “ChickenBus,” in the Rozsa Gallery, and as Gordillo reports, was very well attended and received. She thanks all of the Michigan Tech students who both helped with the development of the work in the spring, related to Chicken Bus, and the outcome of that work which traveled with her as a part of the “Prohibido Orinar Aqui” exhibit.

Fisher was interviewed about her sculpture work, which appeared in the Equal and Opposite Show, in the Rozsa Gallery “gallery b” in 2016, and talks about her other art projects. She says “I was really influenced by Andy Goldsworthy. I really appreciated how he uses materials found in nature and manipulates them in ways not seen in nature. Nature is a big influence in my life.”  Listen to the interview on SoundCloud. It is 06:28 minutes in length.

According to Gordillo, “[Hannah and I] laughed a lot (and caused a lot of laughter) making our installation in the river. That work included filling our hotel showers with corn husks, then transporting them all to the river, then transporting them back, and finally (!) sitting in the river to sew them all together, with lots of onlookers asking an even larger batch of questions.”

Gordillo was also sculptor-in-residence at Tierra Adentro, the International Poetry Festival of Aguacatan, Guatemala. This year’s festival was dedicated to immigrants and displaced people. Gordillo and Fisher also created a migrating book as part of the festival.


Auditions for Two Tech Theatre Plays Sept. 6 – 7

Michigan Tech’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts’ Tech Theatre Company will hold auditions September 6 – September 7th in preparation for their first two plays of the 2017-18 performance season.  Auditions will be held at 7:00 PM each evening, those who wish to participate are asked to arrive 15 minutes early, at 6:45 PM. The auditions are open to anyone, and include opportunities for students and community members to perform in plays that will be held in the McArdle Theatre. The plays are Picasso at the Lapin Agile, by Steve Martin, and Fires in the Mirror, by Anna Devere Smith.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile  (McArdle)

Play run dates are October 12 – 14 & 18 – 20. Picasso at the Lapin Agile auditions will be in the McArdle Theatre, on Sept. 6 & 7, 7:00 PM. Play summary: Steve Martins’ thoughtfully comedic look at the 20th century. Sitting down for a few drinks at the Lapin Agile major and imaginary figures of the 20th century join us and in an evening we live through the perspective shifting experience of the 20th century. A century in an evening that makes it impossible to experience reality in the same way ever again. For questions regarding Picasso at the Lapin Agile, please contact Christopher Plummer, cplummer@mtu.edu, 906-487-3282.

Fires in the Mirror (McArdle)

Play run dates are November 15 – 16 & 30 – December 2. Auditions for Fires in the Mirror will be in Room 210 across the hall from the McArdle Theatre, Sept. 6 & 7, 7:00 PM. Play summary:  How can these things happen?  A child is hit by a car while playing on the sidewalk.  In retaliation, a young man is stabbed to death.  A community turns inward upon itself, neighbor set against neighbor.  Can an out of balance world be set right?  Anna Devere Smith interviewed members of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights Community and using their own words assembled a retelling of their solemn road from hate and violence to understanding.  At once poignant and colored by powerful feelings, Fires in the  Mirror is an unusual evening of theatre taking us to the heart of disaster and understanding and bringing us home safe.  For questions regarding Fires in the Mirror, please contact Roger Held, rheld@mtu.edu, 906-487-3283.


Play the Cello? Love to Sing? Join a Music Ensemble at Michigan Tech!

The music ensembles at Michigan Tech will hold annual ensemble auditions from August 30 – September 7th in preparation for the 2017-18 performance season.  The ensembles include opportunities for students and community members to perform band, choral, jazz, and orchestral literature in concerts from September 2017-April 2018.  Some ensembles only include students and others are open to participants from the community.

Michigan Tech Choral Auditions (Walker 209C)

Audition times are available on the following days:

  • Wednesday, August 30, 1:00pm-5:00pm
  • Thursday, August 31, 1:00pm-5:00pm
  • Friday, September 1, 8:00am-12:00pm
  • Tuesday, September 5, 9:00am-12:00pm
  • Rehearsals begin on Wednesday, September 6

Please prepare a vocal solo that highlights your voice.  Use our signup spreadsheet to sign up for a 20-minute audition appointment. Contact Dr. Jared Anderson (jaredand@mtu.edu) for more information. For general information on the choirs at Michigan Tech visit our Choirs page on the VPA Music website.

Superior Wind Symphony Auditions (Rozsa 208)

Auditions will be held Sunday, Sept. 3 from 10:00am to 9:00pm in the Band room. Please contact Dr. Michael Christianson (mchristi@mtu.edu) for more information. For general information on the Superior Wind Symphony please see our Bands page.

Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra Auditions (Rozsa 205)

Auditions will be held by appointment August 30 to September 5 in Rozsa 205. Please contact Dr. Joel Neves (jbneves@mtu.edu) for more information.

Michigan Tech Jazz Auditions (Rozsa 208)

Jazz auditions will be held by appointment during the first week of classes Tuesday, September 4 – Friday, September 7.  Audition sign up sheets and instructions will be located outside of the Visual and Performing Arts Department office (Walker 209) beginning on Monday, August 28.  Jazz rehearsals will begin on Monday, September 11, 2017. Please contact Mike Irish (mjirish@mtu.edu) for more information. For general information on the Jazz ensemble please see our Jazz page.