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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.

“Orchid Ensemble” Performs Saturday

maxresdefaultJoin us for a concert featuring the renowned Canadian group “Orchid Ensemble,” who will join conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber singers, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 1) in the McArdle Theatre, on the second floor of the Walker Arts and Humanities Center.

Established in 1997, the JUNO-nominated Orchid Ensemble is comprised of Lan Tung on the erhu/Chinese violin, Yu-Chen Wang on the zheng/Chinese zither and Jonathan Bernard on percussion.

The ensemble blends ancient musical instruments and traditions from China and beyond, creating a beautiful new sound. They have embraced a variety of musical styles to thier repertoire, ranging from the traditional and contemporary music of China, world music, new music to jazz and creative improvisation.

The energetic yet endearing performance style of the ensemble consistently intrigues and delights its audiences. Acclaimed as “One of the brightest blossoms on the world music scene” (Georgia Straight), the Orchid Ensemble has been tirelessly developing an innovative musical genre based on the cultural exchange between Western and Asian musicians.

Students from conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers will join the ensemble for three selections in the concert.

Tickets are on sale now, $22 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 at the Calumet Theatre Box Office.


Marimba Concert and Poetry Night

A background of marimba and malletsWhat is a Marimba? Think of a very large wooden xylophone, the national instrument of Guatemala.

The Rozsa Center and Department of Visual and Performing Arts presents Guatemalan writer Hugo Gordillo, and collaborator Zach l’Italian, who will read selections of Gordillo’s new poems (in Spanish and English) in a “Marimba Concert and Poetry Night” at 6 p.m. Thursday (March 23) in the Rozsa lobby.

This event was developed in collaboration with Michigan Tech music students and conducted by Mike Christiansen, Michigan Tech’s Director of Bands. The Marimba Concert and Poetry event are free and all are welcome.

The Michigan Tech Marimbist Band will play several marimba selections, arranged by Christianson. This event is the closing reception for “ChickenBus: a U.S. Guatemalan Experience,” a Rozsa gallery exhibit by Lisa Gordillo.

Several poems in Hugo Gordillo’s collection inspired the art in this exhibit. The exhibit will be open before and after the concert.


Michigan Tech Choirs Present Benefit Concert: Music for a Sacred Space

4b28237239a321097593c2690bd79a0921788025Join the Michigan Tech Choirs for an evening of sacred choral music presented in its natural habitat, the local treasure that is the magnificent space of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Linden. The concert will feature music of many different countries and cultures, with devotional music ranging from South Africa, Germany, England, Canada and 19th-century America.

The Michigan Tech Concert Choir and conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers, Jared Anderson, conductor, present “Music for a Sacred Space” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 19th, St. Joseph’s Church, Lake Linden.

Free-will donations in any amount are welcomed.


Play to be Presented in Game Show Format

6208281760_9d9ee08208_mDavid Mamet’s award-winning play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” is given an inventive new staging by the Michigan Tech Theatre Company.

Opening Thursday in the McArdle Theatre, the play will be presented as a hilarious on-stage  “game show,” using mature and graphic language to reveal the awkwardness, heartache and humor of American sexual behavior.

The play opens tomorrow night, with additional performances Friday, Saturday and Feb. 23-25 at the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center. Performance time is 7:30 each evening.

According to Director Roger Held, the Obie (off-Broadway) Award-winning play “explores the nature of sexual relationships: Their awkward, unreasonable natures and how humans stubbornly cling to them in spite of heartache.”

In a fun twist to the game show theme, Tech Theatre is collaborating with Student Health and Wellness to help launch the new campus health initiatives, “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Sex-versations.”

Part of the play will present “commercial breaks” with information about the two health initiatives. The commercials were created by Wellness students, staff and Held. Wellness will also have a table with information about the initiatives set up in the lobby.

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 online, by phone 7-2073, in person at the Central Ticketing office in the SDC and an hour before show time at the McArdle box office.


“Sexual Perversity in Chicago” Opens Thursday

5e1a85bec4d270eac4578defc44bb93d63d6dda2 (1)The Michigan Tech Theatre Company presents David Mamet’s award winning play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.”

The play, which explores the nature of sexual relationships, will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with additional performances Feb. 23-25 in the McArdle Theatre on the second floor of the Walker Fine Arts and Humanities Center. Performance time is 7:30 p.m. each evening.

First produced in 1974, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” continues to speak to generations of young adults in the unyielding clutches of sexual inelegance.

According to the New York Times, the play “takes funny and painful digs at the fantasies and distances of the contemporary sexual game.”

It has twice been adapted to film, “About Last Night … ” (1986) starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore and “About Last Night” (2014) with Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.

The Tech Theatre production of “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” is under the direction of Roger Held. Tickets are $13 for adults, $5 for youth and no cost for Michigan Tech Students with the Experience Tech Fee.

Tickets are available online, at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex and by phone, 7-2073.


Russian National Ballet Theatre at Rozsa

Russian National Ballet bigThe Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts presents two magical nights of incomparable Russian ballet. Direct from Moscow, the Russian National Ballet Theatre, featuring fifty of Russia’s finest dancers, will perform three timeless ballet pieces, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Carmen” on Tuesday, Jan. 24 and “Giselle” on Wednesday, Jan. 25.  Shows start at 7:30 p.m. each evening.

According to Rozsa Center Director of Programming Mary Jennings, “… the Russian National Ballet Theatre is an institution in Russian Ballet. Legendary Bolshoi principal dancer Elena Radchenko, the founder of the Russian National Ballet Theatre, has focused the company on upholding the grand, national tradition of the major Russian ballet works.”

On the first of two nights, they will perform the full-length “Romeo and Juliet” by Sergei Prokofiev based on Shakespeare’s play. Performed in one act, the ballet tells the story of Romeo and Juliet, the quintessential star-crossed lovers. Prokofiev’s music is paired with original choreography by Marius Petipa, the “godfather of Russian ballet.”

In the second act they will perform “Carmen,” a full-length ballet also in one act. Music by Rodion Shchedrin based on the classic opera by Georges Bizet with choreography by Alberto Alonso. Carmen, a passionate, free-spirited woman, is caught in a love triangle between Don José and a bullfighter. The impetus and cause for the creation of the ballet Carmen was the cherished dream of the celebrated Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya to depict the highly strung and riveting character of Carmen in a ballet.

On the second evening, the Russian National Ballet Theatre performs the full-length, tragic ballet “Giselle,” about a peasant girl who dies of a broken heart after discovering her lover is betrothed to another.

“Giselle” was composed by Adolphe Adam, and is a romantic jewel of Petipa. “Giselle” was first seen in Moscow in 1843, just two years after its creation in Paris, and a year after it was staged in St. Petersburg.


Play written by Tech Student Advances to Regional Festival

1481652024A play written by a Michigan Tech student has advanced to the regional finals of a national competition. “Leaving,” by third-year student Sarah Jo Martens, of Hortonville, Wisconsin, was chosen to participate in the final round of the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Martens is an environmental engineering major with a minor in theatre. She is a member of the Pavlis Honors College.

“Leaving,” inspired by Marten’s relationship with her sister Rachel, will be given a fully-staged reading, along with the four other finalists at the Region III Festival, Jan. 10-15 in Indianapolis.

College theatre students from schools in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana will attend the Region III festival to compete in acting, playwriting, design, theatre technology, stage management and other categories.

Two plays from the Region III competition will advance to the Finals at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in April where they will again be given a reading.

by Visual and Performing Arts


Handel’s “Messiah” Saturday at the Rozsa

Messiahby Bethany Jones

Tickets are now on sale for a concert that celebrates a glorious rite of the Christmas Season. The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Tech Choirs, along with renowned guest vocalists, present the beloved Christmas masterpiece, Handel’s “Messiah.”

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 10), in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Among the guest performers are: Baritone Nathan Herfindahl; Soprano Jennifer D’Agostino; Mezzo-soprano Sandra Loy; and Tenor Clark Sturdevant. The performance is conducted by Jared Anderson, chair of the department of visual and performing arts.

Tickets are $19 for adults, $6 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

For ticket information and more, read the full story.