Category Archives: Music

Grammy Winner Jerry Blackstone To Conduct Honors Choir Festival

fac5e5d9a73ad485410d1448022185a7f3ee9731The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the department of visual and performing arts (VPA) presents “Honors Choir Festival” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

The concert contemplates the forces of nature and weather in its many forms; springtime, a thunderstorm, a prairie fire and the Schoolchildren’s Blizzard of 1888.

The Choirs of Michigan Tech and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra welcome singers from Northern Michigan University and upper peninsula high schools to perform Ēriks Ešenvalds’ “Whispers on the Prairie Wind,” under the direction of Jerry Blackstone, the Grammy Award winning director of choral activities at the University of Michigan. The KSO will also present Beethoven’s Symphony no.6 in F Major (Pastoral), conducted by Jared Anderson.

By Bethany Jones


Music O Rama: Celebrating John and Biruta Lowther

82783a59e1337c6e3ea2a469b341525360d6b160The Department of Visual and Performing Arts presents “Music O Rama” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 1) at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

“Music O Rama,” an annual musical variety concert, 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 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 Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra 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.”

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 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Calumet Theatre Box Office.

by Bethany Jones


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


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


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


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


Rozsa 2016-2017 Season Ticket Packages on sale August 1

What happens when you combine breakdancing with roller skates, circus with bicycle mechanics, culture-clash with dancing and singing and three ballets in two nights? You get the Rozsa Visual and Performing Arts 2016/17 season.

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts is the home of visual and performing arts at Michigan Tech. The Rozsa Visual and Performing Arts 2016/17 season is nearly here with season ticket packages going on sale August 1, offering the best discounts available.

From BreakSk8, to two nights of Russian National Ballet, to Cirque Mechanics’ Pedal Punk, to “West Side Story,” there are so many great shows at the Rozsa available at 20 to 40 percent off single ticket prices if you buy early.

Season tickets are available for a limited time only. For more details visit http://www.rozsa.mtu.edu or contact Bethany Jones for more information.


Jazz Lab Band Takes Third at Jazz Fest

The Michigan Tech Jazz Lab Band did well in the Eau Claire Jazz Festival held April 22-23 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

The Jazz Lab Band took third place in the College Big Band category. With a score of 86.5, the Jazz Lab Band finished just behind second-place University of Wisconsin-Madison Jazz Ensemble (87.750). UW-Madison’s Jazz Orchestra won the College Big Band Category with a score of 92.

Two Michigan Tech ensembles opened the festival on the morning of April 22. MOMENTUM, an ensemble of horns, vocal and rhythm section opened the day at 8 a.m. followed by JAZTEC, a seven-piece combo that specializes in contemporary jazz, funk and original styles.

Under the direction of Mike Irish (VPA) director of Jazz Studies, the Jazz Lab Band is a big band comprised of up to 20 musicians from throughout the country and features a broad repertoire of music ranging from the Big Band Era to contemporary jazz and original compositions.

Irish says the accomplishments of the Tech students are even more impressive when you consider none are music majors.
“It is always gratifying to do well against all of the music schools, since we are the only ‘non-music-program’ school competing.”

Choirs Present “Songs of the Earth” Friday

Songs of the EarthJoin the choirs of Michigan Tech as they present the final Rozsa event of the season, a concert entitled “Songs of the Earth.”

The concert celebrates Earth Day with music inspired by nature or includes themes relating to the natural world.

The Michigan Tech Concert Choir will perform music from Haydn’s “Creation,” paired with a setting of poetry of George MacDonald, titled “Communion,” by René Clausen.

Other selections include American folk-songs “Sourwood Mountain,” “Black Sheep” and “Shenandoah.”

Music by contemporary composers Jeff Cobb and David Evan Thomas provide variety to the program with the setting of the tongue-twister “Esau Wood” and Emily Dickenson’s description of a storm, titled “An Awful Tempest.”

ConScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers will premiere a new work by Elizabeth Meyer (VPA), titled “To What Listens,” for choir, trombone, piano and percussion.

Other selections include two choral soundscapes, “Tundra” by Ola Gjeilo and “The Whole Sea in Motion” by Dale Trumbore.

Another set, titled “Flower Songs,” will feature the music of Chen YI, John Clements and Carlos Guastavino.

The show will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23, 2016, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets for “Songs of the Earth” 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 or in person at the Central Ticket Office in the Student Development Complex.

From Tech Today, by Bethany Jones.

Michigan Tech, the Keweenaw Celebrate Earth Day

Today, April 22, 2016, marks the 46th anniversary of Earth Day. It was established in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, in response to massive oil spills and growing environmental hazards from industrial pollutants.

Earth Day is an international observance with more than 192 countries working together to find solutions for our world. From education in the schools on green solutions to Adopt a Highway programs, there is something each of us can do to join the campaign to protect the planet.

Michigan Tech is presenting the Rozsa Center season’s final concert titled “Songs of the Earth,” a musical presentation inspired by nature at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (April 23).

Read more at Tech Today, by Mary LaDoux, Student Writer.


KSO Presents “Shakespeare at the Symphony” at Calumet Theatre

KSO ShakespeareThe Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra returns to the Calumet Theatre to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 15, 2016, at the Calumet Theatre.

The KSO performs orchestral music inspired by several of the Bard’s plays, including “The Tempest” (Sibelius), “Hamlet” (Berlioz), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Mendelssohn) and “Romeo and Juliet” (Berlioz and Prokofiev).

Music Director Joel Neves (VPA) says “the KSO is excited to perform at the historic Calumet Theatre for the first time since 2011. The music of Shakespeare is dramatic, expressive, colorful, inventive — the perfect companion to his plays. Our concert will be a revelatory experience for those who enjoy the fusion of music and literature. I look forward to sharing this with our patrons.”

Tickets are on sale now, $19 for adults, $6 for youth, 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 Ticket Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Calumet Theatre Box Office.

From Tech Today, by Bethany Jones.