Perhaps it is because I share a building with the Department of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), but it is interesting that VPA activities have figured several times in my blog comments this spring. Whatever the reason, I am impressed by the diversity and scope of their recent and upcoming activities. Those events show the full artistic talents of our faculty and students, and enrich us all.
A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated 50 years of jazz on campus. Don Keranan was the legendary faculty member who launched that effort, which Mike Irish has now guided for a long time! A good group of alumni journeyed back to campus to mark this grand occasion, and joined the current students players. Quite the event, as the image of the alumni jazz players shows!!
Photo by Hannah Kowalewski
Last week two other notable events occurred. The first was the VPA faculty and staff art exhibition, which opened with a reception on Friday afternoon. Labeled Amusement Park Avenue, just about every person in the department contributed to the show. These ranged from M.C. Friedrich’s historically accurate doll costumes to images and sound resulting from the Listening to the Parks soundscape project that showcases the Lake Superior National Parks (Kent Cyr, Christopher Plummer and Libby Meyer). Anne Beffel’s Every Color of Eyes project (mentioned in my previous blog) also was displayed along with 13 other faculty and staff works, several in mixed media. The exhibit can be seen in the Rozsa Gallery until April 28, and for the last few days, student art produced this year will be displayed in an adjoining section of the gallery.
The second activity on Saturday April 1, was a very different kind of presentation. Musical performers from Vancouver, the Orchid Ensemble, offered their unique fusion/world music selections using traditional Chinese and other instruments. They were joined for the second half of their program by conScience, the Michigan Tech Chamber Singers. The results proofed very interesting for most of us. For example, in the second combined number, Orchid Ensemble accompanied the Chamber Singers, while in the final number the singers served as vocal instruments accompanying the Ensemble. As always, considering there are no art or music majors on campus, both events were superb. And a significant part of the success of the gallery exhibit and the musical performance goes back to the students responsible for the technical presentation, lighting, and sound. These students had an special learning experience with Orchid Ensemble
And there is still more to look forward to, as the department is presenting its version of West Side Story, famous for Leonard Bernstein’s music and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics. There will be three presentations from April 13 to 15. And that will not exhaust the end of the semester schedule, so check out the VPA calendar of events. We are lucky to have such great opportunities to experience the arts in all of their forms.