Category Archives: Music

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.


Rozsa Calendars for 2017-18 Season Now Available

20170911_122723Rozsa Center calendars for the 2017-2018 season are now available — both full-size wall calendars and the handy pocket/desk calendars!

Featured this year are 12 Rozsa Presenting Series events, more than 33 Visual and Performing Arts events including music, theater and visual arts and the ever-popular 41 North Film festival.

Season Ticket Packages are on sale now, with the best discounts available on all the season has to offer! There are four Season Ticket Package options this year, offering savings of 18 to 37 percent off single-ticket prices.

Single-ticket sales begin Sept. 1. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Michigan Tech Ticketing Services at the Central Ticket Office (SDC), at 7-2073, or visit our website.

You can pick up one of each or both at the Rozsa Center or at any of the more than 120 local Houghton and Hancock businesses who display and distribute them each year.

For Michigan Tech faculty and staff, we would like to make it easy for you to get your copies of the calendars. If you would like a calendar delivered directly to your campus mailbox, please click on this link and fill out the google form. We will gladly send a calendar to you in inter-campus mail.


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.


Welcome to the 2017-18 Rozsa Arts Season!

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Immerse yourself in the arts at Michigan Tech
Season Tickets on Sale August 1
Single Tickets on Sale September 1

What happens when you combine Chinese martial arts, dance and acrobats in “China Gold,” a dark and physical interpretation by PUSH Physical Theatre of the gothic tale “Dracula,” world-class modern dance “Ailey II,” and an award winning all-new play from LA Theatre Works about the last 24 hours of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, “The Mountaintop”? You get the Rozsa Visual and Performing Arts 2017/18 Season!

Welcome to the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, the home of Visual and Performing Arts at Michigan Tech. The Rozsa Visual and Performing Arts 2017/18 Season is nearly here. Season Ticket Packages go on sale August 1, with the best discounts available on all the season has to offer!

Season tickets are available for a limited time only, so find out more today!

There are five Season Ticket Package options this year, offering savings of 20% – 40% off single ticket prices: A Full Season Ticket Package, a pass to all the arts at Michigan Tech! Enjoy the biggest discount available off the single ticket price on all Rozsa and VPA events. The popular “Pick 6” Season Ticket Package has returned, and is an even better value this year. New this year, we have both “Pick 3” option for people who want to get their discount now and pick their shows later, and have brought back the very popular new “Family Pack” option that will help you bring the whole family to a big show at an affordable price. We hope there is a package that works for you! Thank you to all of our long-time Season Ticket holders, we’re holding your seats.  For new Season Ticket buyers, welcome, we look forward to seeing you this season.

Not interested in a Season Ticket Package? Single ticket sales begin September 1, 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Michigan Tech Ticketing Services at the Central Ticket Office (SDC), at 906-487-2073, or visit our new webste mtu.edu/rozsa.

See the exciting variety of events produced and presented by the Rozsa Center and Department of Visual and Performing Arts.


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.


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.


Bon Voyage: South Africa!

Map and Flag of South Africa. Source: "World reference atlas" [url=/search/lightbox/5890567][IMG]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3574/3366761342_e502f57f15.jpg?v=0[/IMG][/url]The Rozsa Center welcomes the choirs of Michigan Tech which will present their year-end concert, “Bon Voyage South Africa,” at 7:30 p.m. tonight (April 21).

The concert will feature music that has been prepared for the Michigan Tech Concert Choir international tour to South Africa.  According to Choirs Director Jared Anderson“The evening will include performances of sacred motets, African-American spirituals, American folk songs, music about the displaced as well as beloved songs from South Africa.


South American Symphonies, Spanish Jazz, and Afro-Cuban Rhythms: Michigan Tech Bands Present Music with Heat

Bali, Indonesia - June 5, 2013: Traditional Balinese Kecak dance white monkey Hanuman in fire at Uluwatu TempleThe two wind bands of Michigan Tech, Superior Wind Symphony and Campus Concert Band, will present their yearly combined concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (April 20) in the Rozsa Center.

This year’s theme is “En Fuego!” — a concert featuring music that is imbued with heat. Mike Christianson, director of bands, will first lead each band individually, finishing with the two combining into a “megaband” of 120 musicians.

According to Christianson, “The music is by composers who hail from exotic climes such as Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, France, Germany and Saginaw.” Music will range from South American symphonies, Spanish jazz arrangements, Afro-Cuban and Latin music, and even a favorite by Stevie Wonder.

Highlights include Handel’s “Overture from Music for The Royal Fireworks,” “Mambo in F” arranged by Cico O’Farrill, “Cucurrucucu Paloma” with a guest performance by Jared Anderson-voice, “The Maids of Cadiz” featuring guest Aaron Christianson on trumpet and favorites “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing,” by Stevie Wonder, “Amparito Roca” and “Malaguena.”

Tickets for “En Fuego!” 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 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Note that the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.


“West Side Story” Opens at Rozsa

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WLUC TV6 ran a story on the Michigan Tech Theatre Company’s production of “West Side Story.” The show opened last night at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts with additional performances tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Watch the TV6 story.

The Michigan Tech Theatre Company and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra bring the musical “West Side Story” to the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. The legendary musical opens today with additional performances Friday and Saturday. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. each evening.

West Side Story” changed the very nature of American musical theatre. With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim, the play was grounded in a distinctively modern sound with a passionately poetic statement — place where everyone can grow beyond the confines of hate and poverty, a safe and beautiful place.

A modern adaptation of a quintessential tale of star-crossed lovers, “West Side Story” isn’t performed often for a very good reason. According to director Patricia Helsel, “It’s simply a very difficult play to perform. The show requires many different dance styles ranging from jazz, to 50s “hipster beat,” to Latino and ballet. The music is also challenging with complex rhythms and styles for the ensemble, matched with a call for operatic technique for the young lovers. Overall, this is not your typical, run-of-the-mill golden era musical comedy.”

The subject matter is highly charged with racial tension, fear, hate and love — some pretty intense emotion that is intricately woven in textures throughout the play, taking the audience on a meaningful journey.

Comedy plays a matching role in the show, with memorable numbers like “Officer Krupke” and “America.”

Tickets are on sale now, $19 for adults, $6 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or the night of the event, one hour before show time, at the Rozsa Center Box Office.