Author: Tanya Maki

Visual and Performing Arts Student Awards

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts has announced its student award and scholarship recipients. Each year, a nomination and selection process is conducted by VPA faculty and staff with input from department students to identify outstanding student achievement. Below is a list of recognized students.

Department Scholar: Madison Wentela

Madi Wentela is a Theatre and Entertainment Technology major/Art minor scheduled to graduate in April 2023. She is an active, engaged member of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, whose scholarship, artistry, and leadership is a model for other students. Her interests span theatre, visual art, art history, and museum studies. In our department, Madi frequently serves in a leadership role. Most recently, she served as the Stage Manager for the theatre production of The Arsonists, and as a Student Gallery Assistant for the Rozsa Galleries. There, she has led the installation of more than twelve exhibits over the past three years, including the exhibit Hero City: Portraits of Modern Mongolia, which took place in five different venues on campus. Madi is an inquisitive, thoughtful student, and a leader both in class and out. 

Student of Promise, and Theatre Award: Laurel Schmidt

Laurel is a 3rd year Theatre and Entertainment Technology major from Saline, Michigan. Her recent projects have included co-assistant stage managing “The Arsonists”, directing one of the one act plays, “Shaped By You” and acting as Lilith in “She Kills Monsters”. Outside of the theatre department, she is vice president of Mu Beta Psi National Honorary Musical Fraternity along with enjoying hiking and exploring waterfalls around the Keweenaw.

All Arts: Bebe Villanueva

Bebe is from Bangor, Michigan, and is in his fourth year of Theatre and Entertainment Technology with emphasis in Media and Crafts. He is a multimedia artist creating work in multiple mediums, focusing on digital media. His work consists of personal endeavors such as 2D animation, photography, video production, editing, directing, music, and crocheting. He has contributed to many media projects held by Michigan Tech such as, camera operation for Miasma, content creation for projections for She Kills Monsters, animations and special effects for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, and being Video Lead for Talking With. He wants to continue his work combining multiple art forms and create future works of art, music, and media. Currently he is venturing into 3D animation with Unreal Engine and Blender to create landscapes suitable for live productions and projections.

Arts: Maisie Whitaker

Maisie is from Hart, Michigan and is a third year Theatre and Entertainment Technology major with an Art minor. She has emphasis areas in mechanical and crafts. She’s had the opportunity lead installations and work with many artists as a gallery assistant in the Rozsa gallery. She also assists in the scene shop on special projects. She has found a lot of joy working on many productions with our department, most recently as the head of props for “She Kills Monsters”.

Sound: Matthew Anderson

Matt is a 4th year Audio Production Technology major from Midland, MI. Over the last two semesters he has been doing loudspeaker research as well as being a TA for several courses. During his time as a TA he was able to help other students reach there creative goals by giving them the tools necessary for the job and pushing people to use everything they have access to. Over the past several summers he has honed his live sound skills by working full time as a Systems and Mix engineer.

Milton Olsson Music Award: Jordan Zais

Jordan is a 3rd year Biomedical Engineering student from Excelsior, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. She has been a part of the conScience Chamber Choir at Tech since Fall 2019 and has greatly enjoyed it and plans to continue participating until she graduates next spring. Outside of choir, Jordan participates in student organizations like Keweenaw Pride and Tau Beta Pi. After graduation, Jordan is planning to attend nursing school to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and hopes to make reproductive healthcare and education more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

Music: Sarah Kempin

Sarah is a chemical engineering senior from Midland, Michigan, and is graduating with her bachelors this spring. She has always had a love for music, and has been playing the flute since the 4th grade. During her time at Michigan Tech she has played flute in the Superior Wind Symphony, the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, and the Pit Orchestra. She has also started and conducted a local handbell choir. In addition to her musical endeavors, Sarah has been involved with Concordia Student Ministries, Circle K International, and Residence Education. Upon graduation Sarah will be entering industry to work as a process engineer.

Marian and John Irish Award for Environmental Art: Madalyn Tudor-Duncan

Madalyn Tudor-Duncan is an Applied Ecology major and an art minor. Her work frequentlyconnects arts and environmental issues. As a member of the 2022 Advanced Sculpture class, she developed large-scale sculptures that focused on inclusivity and touch, showcased in the student Rozsa gallery exhibit, Perpetual Motion Machine. In 2022-23, Madalyn will develop new works of art that bring together her studies in ecology and painting as part of the course, Art and Nature.

The Jazz Award recipients can be viewed here.

Congratulations to the award recipients and best wishes to all of our graduating seniors.

Don Keranen Jazz Awards

Director of Jazz Studies, Adam Meckler, has announced this year’s student recipients for the Don Keranen Endowed Scholarship Awards.

Each year, excellence in Jazz is recognized by way of the Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Scholarship. Three students are chosen by their peers in recognition of improvement, excellence, and leadership. Our award winners this year include R&D drummer Zane Smalley, Workshop Brass Band trombonist Matthew Plansinis, and Lab Band Lead Tenor player Grayson Dunham. These students all showed leadership, dedication, excellence, and improvement this year. I am grateful for them, and wish them continued success in the coming years. – Director of Jazz Studies, Adam Meckler.


Zane Smalley is a 3rd Year Software Engineering Major with a minor in Mathematical Science. He is a founding member of the Video Game Music Ensemble, and a member of the R&D Big Band, a Jazz Combo, and the Huskies Pep Band at Michigan Tech. Zane has been consistently involved with various bands and choirs since the age of 10 and started playing drums when he was about 13. When he isn’t in rehearsals, Zane enjoys spending his free time playing Super Smash Bros and Risk of Rain 2 with friends or playing and watching disc golf. 

Matthew Plansinis has had many aspirations in his life, but by far mathematics and music held most of his interest. From a young age, he liked to build stuff and was just curious how objects worked, so pursuing a career in engineering was an obvious choice. He only decided to major in biomedical engineering due to his youngest of two brothers, who was born with type 1 diabetes.

A majority of my life I’ve worked with and used equipment designed by biomedical engineers, so in hopes of improving my brother’s physical health, I chose to follow their path.”

 As for his interest in music, it started in 2011, when he started learning trombone for the first time in his middle school’s concert band. For the nine years following then, he would learn much, play in a variety of bands, and grow his appreciation for many genres of music. At this moment in his life, Matthew desires to gain a better knowledge of the history and theory of jazz, and to continue playing music in the future.

Grayson Dunham is a 4th year Audio Production and Technology student here at Michigan Tech. He has played in the Jazz Lab Band, as well as the Jaztec combo, for his entire collegiate career – as well as pursuing a minor in Jazz Studies. Some of his hobbies include backcountry skiing, mountain biking, music production and performance, and cooking. 

This Week at the Rozsa

by Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts

In the next week, join us for four Rozsa Presenting Series events:

  • Digital Movement of Joy Workshops
    Rozsa Presenting Series
    • Thursday, March 24 — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Saturday, March 26 — 10 a.m. to noon
      Joy as a catalyst for personal and social change? Each Movement of Joy Workshop curates and facilitates conversations for social change through the art and research of joy developed by founder Naila Ansari. No movement, dance or art experience is needed.
      Register for this free digital workshop.
      —–
  • Sinkane
    Rozsa Presenting Series
    • Friday, March 25 — 7:30 p.m.
      Get ready to dance in your seat all night long because Sudanese-American Sinkane is bringing funky electronica mixed with Sudanese pop to the Rozsa. Check him out on Spotify.
      Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youth. Michigan Tech students can attend for free and bring a friend with the Experience Tech Fee.
      —–
  • Vieux Farka Touré
    Rozsa Presenting Series
    • Saturday, March 26 — 7:30 p.m.
      One of the world’s greatest guitarists and most innovative musicians, Vieux Farka Touré, is on an American Tour from Mali and his next stop is the Rozsa! Check him out on Spotify and get your tickets!
      Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youth. Michigan Tech students can attend for free and bring a friend with the Experience Tech Fee.
      —–
  • Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate of the United States
    Rozsa Presenting Series
  • Thursday, March 24 — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 26 — 10 a.m. to noon
    Joy as a catalyst for personal and social change? Each Movement of Joy Workshop curates and facilitates conversations for social change through the art and research of joy developed by founder Naila Ansari. No movement, dance or art experience is needed.
    Register for this free digital workshop.
    —–
  • Friday, March 25 — 7:30 p.m.
    Get ready to dance in your seat all night long because Sudanese-American Sinkane is bringing funky electronica mixed with Sudanese pop to the Rozsa. Check him out on Spotify.
    Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youth. Michigan Tech students can attend for free and bring a friend with the Experience Tech Fee.
    —–
  • Saturday, March 26 — 7:30 p.m.
    One of the world’s greatest guitarists and most innovative musicians, Vieux Farka Touré, is on an American Tour from Mali and his next stop is the Rozsa! Check him out on Spotify and get your tickets!
    Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youth. Michigan Tech students can attend for free and bring a friend with the Experience Tech Fee.
    —–
  • March 25 — 7:30 p.m.
    Joy Harjo will read a selection of poems from her book, “An American Sunrise.” U.P. Poet Laureate M. Bartley Seigel (HU) will moderate a conversation about Harjo’s poetry and experiences as the first Indigenous United States Poet Laureate.
    Register for this free digital event.

Looking Ahead:

  • The Thanksgiving Play
    Rozsa Presenting Series
    • Multiple dates — Shows begin at 7 p.m.
      Thursday, March 31 | Friday, April 1 | Saturday, April 2
      Thursday, April 7 | Friday, April 8 | Saturday, April 9
      Miss your turkey dinner leftovers? Get ready for a dinner theatre performance of Larissa FastHorse’s wickedly funny “The Thanksgiving Play,” performed by Wolf’s Head Theatre. Vegan and gluten-free dinner options available.
      Tickets are reserved seating by table and must be purchased in advance. Each table will be set for four and you can purchase a full ($120) or half table ($60). Students may purchase a half-table in advance for $20 with the Experience Tech Fee. Please place a single order to reserve seats for all individuals who would like to be seated together. Half tables may be seated alone or with another half table, as space allows.
  • Multiple dates — Shows begin at 7 p.m.
    Thursday, March 31 | Friday, April 1 | Saturday, April 2
    Thursday, April 7 | Friday, April 8 | Saturday, April 9
    Miss your turkey dinner leftovers? Get ready for a dinner theatre performance of Larissa FastHorse’s wickedly funny “The Thanksgiving Play,” performed by Wolf’s Head Theatre. Vegan and gluten-free dinner options available.
    Tickets are reserved seating by table and must be purchased in advance. Each table will be set for four and you can purchase a full ($120) or half table ($60). Students may purchase a half-table in advance for $20 with the Experience Tech Fee. Please place a single order to reserve seats for all individuals who would like to be seated together. Half tables may be seated alone or with another half table, as space allows.

Masks are strongly recommended for all in-person events at the Rozsa. Please visit the Rozsa COVID-19 Policies for the most up-to-date information.

Tickets to in-person events are available by phone at 906-487-1906 and online. The Rozsa Box Office is open for ticket purchases one hour before performances. 

Jazz Cabaret at the Rozsa

The annual Jazz Cabaret is back in person this weekend! Get your tickets to see Michigan Tech jazz combos, including Jaztec, Michigan Tech’s premier jazz ensemble, perform backstage at the Rozsa.

Jazz Cabaret — 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 28, and Saturday, January 29.

Tickets: $15 for adults and $5 for youth. Michigan Tech students can attend for free and bring a friend with the Experience Tech Fee.

Face coverings are required for volunteers, staff, and audience members at these events. Please visit the Rozsa COVID-19 Policies for the most up-to-date information.

Tickets for these events are available by phone at 906-487-2858, online or in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex. The Rozsa Box Office will also be open for ticket purchases one hour before performances.

MTU Superior Wind Symphony Releases New Album, ‘iFiesta!’

by Lisa Gordillo, Visual and Performing Arts

The Michigan Tech Superior Wind Symphony has released a new album, iFiesta! The album contains original music by Guatemalan singer-songwriter Raúl López Colibrí, arranged by Mike Christianson.

Based on the children’s book of the same name by Hugo Gordillo, “iFiesta!” is a joy-packed, magical ride of Latin-American beats that will have you strumming, drumming and tap-tap-tapping.

Local children sang in the original concert and appear on the album, which also includes studio sessions, poetry readings and interviews.

“iFiesta!” is available as a hard-copy CD at the Michigan Tech bookstore, K.C. Bonkers and Black Ice Comics. It can also be found on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music, or by visiting HearNow.

Song lyrics in Spanish and English can be found online.

An Evening of One Acts Auditions

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts announces auditions for an “Evening of One Acts” that will be produced on February 17-26 in McArdle Theatre.  This performance will include productions of four new works that are a collaboration with playwrights at the University of Michigan.  Michigan Tech students will serve as directors for the productions. Shows will be arranged in pairs with the possibility of acting in two productions. The performances are curated by Kristy Dodson, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre.

OPEN CALL: Come as you are! Sides of the script will be provided for you to look over and then read for the audition. Any interested individuals are encouraged to audition.  There are roles specified for four black women in one of the scripts.  The other scripts are open in their actor specifications.  

Plays include:  

I Hope… by Shannon Harper
Shaped by You by Dana Pierangeli
St. Julianna’s School for Troubled Girls by Claire Vogel
Taking Survey by MacKenzie Mollison

Audition Dates:
Friday, December 3, 6-8pm  Open Auditions for all shows. 
Saturday, December 4, 12-3pm Callbacks
Sunday, December 5, 12-3pm Callbacks

All auditions will be held in McArdle Theatre (2nd floor Walker Arts and Humanities Center).

KSO Wins Second Place in American Prize!

It was recently announced that the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra won 2nd Place in the American Prize in Orchestral Performance for its recordings of Jupiter and Sinfonia Antartica! The American Prize is a national music competition for American music performers, composers, directors, administrators, and ensembles.

Joel Neves, Music Director of the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra mentions “This is our second placement in the American Prize: in 2014, I received 3rd Place in the Orchestra Conductor category for the KSO’s performances of Brahms, Symphony No. 4 and Debussy, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”

Kudos go to Maya Ablao and Michael Chopp, our sound designers for Jupiter and Sinfonia Antartica; conScience for their choral contribution; Kate Van Susante as soloist; Kent Cyr for building our wind machine; and, of course, the amazing musicians of the KSO for their artistic excellence.

Auditions for Stories that Go Bump in the Night!

Auditions for Stories That Go Bump In The Night, a collection of spooky and fun short stories, will be held this Sunday and Monday.

Sunday, September 12 – Rozsa 120 from 6-8pm.
Monday, September 13 – Walker 210 from 6-8pm.

Please wear a mask and observe social distancing while in the space.

We are looking for several actors, all inclusive, for this project. Those willing to have fun and get into the spirit of Halloween. Auditions will be cold readings, you will be provided with scripts at the time of your audition. Here is a link to some of the stories we are considering: Stories That Go Bump in the Night!

The collection of stories range from children’s Halloween time stories such as the Bogey-Beast, to that of Edgar Allan Poe. Bring your childhood wonder and curiosity!

For more information, contact Trish Helsel, helsel@mtu.edu or (906) 281-0203.

Auditions for The Arsonists – Sept 18, 19

Gottlieb Beidermann, is a respected businessman with a wife, Babette, and a comfortable home. He is the epitome of a conventional upper class gentleman. When rumors of arsonists in the area begin to surface, Beidermann convinces himself that the normalcy of his life will protect him. Evil arsonists may be going door to door, talking their way into people’s homes only to plot the destruction of those houses, but surely these men won’t fool him. A dark comedy, The Arsonists explores corruption, greed, and apathy that exists in society today and how all of us are just sitting around waiting for the world to burn.

Written by Max Frisch, translation by Alistair Beaton
Directed by Kristy Dodson
Staring Joshua Michael Levine (Off Bway Channeling Kevin Spacy

Auditions: Saturday, September 18 and Sunday, September 19 (6:45 – 9pm)
Location: Walker 210

OPEN CALL: Come as you are! Sides of the script will be provided for you to look over and then read for the audition. 

Roles: Babette: Beidermann’s wife, oblivious yet anxious
Anna: Beidermann’s servant, the only one who knows what is going on
Schmitz: A former wrestler and one of the arsonists
Billy: A former head waiter and one of the arsonists
Police Officer: Local police officer
Mrs. Knechtling: The grieving widow of Beidermann’s former business partner
Doctor of Philosophy: One of the arsonists who is now having doubts
Chorus of Firefighters: 3 Firefighters all attempting to save the town from the arsonists 

                                                                                         

Don Keranen Jazz Awards

Director of Jazz Studies, Adam Meckler, has announced this year’s student recipients for the Don Keranen Endowed Scholarship Awards.

Each year, excellence in Jazz is recognized by way of the Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Scholarship. Three students are chosen by their peers in recognition of improvement, excellence, and leadership. Our award winners this year include Jazz Lab Band drummer Izzy Waldie, Jazz Lab Band trombonist Nicholas Bussey, and R&D Big Band lead trumpeter Matthew Fisher. These students all showed leadership, dedication, excellence, and improvement this year. Given the limitations of rehearsals, concerts, and recording sessions due to the pandemic, the work these students put in this year is especially impressive. I am grateful for them, and wish them continued success in the coming years. – Director of Jazz Studies, Adam Meckler.

Most Improved Player 
Izzy Waldie, Percussion
Jazz Lab Band

Izzy is a 19 year old Audio Production and Technology Major with a Computer Science Minor here at Tech, and the drummer for the Jazz Lab Band and top combo.  One day she hopes to work as a recording/mixing engineer or high fidelity loudspeaker designer.  She has been drumming since the second grade, and started playing jazz music in High School.  When not behind the kit or doing homework she is most likely making music, spending time with friends, or camping somewhere in the Keweenaw, or all three.

Most Valuable Player 
Matthew Fisher, Trumpet
R&D Big Band

Matt just finished his first year here at Michigan Tech as a Sound Design major. Music has always been a passion of his, and was excited to be a part of Tech’s Jazz Program.

“I’ve never had an opportunity to be a part of a legit jazz band, so I had a blast this year being a part of two bands and a combo. I’m looking forward to the next three years here at Tech and excited to continue performing in the jazz program!”

Most Valuable Player
Nicholas Bussey, Trombone Jazz Lab Band

Nicholas is a Second-Year Chemical Engineering student and trombonist in MTU’s Jazz Lab Band and top jazz combo. Also a composer, arranger and former Ravinia Jazz Scholar, he is constantly growing as a musician, and uses his skills to create multitrack music videos on top of his contributions in the Lab Band and combo. In his free time, he enjoys cycling long distances and playing niche board games. After graduating, he hopes to work to improve sustainability in the specialty coatings, food or plastics industries.