Author: Tanya Maki

Outdoor Sculpture – Online FA2110 for Track B

Visual and Performing Arts Professor, Lisa Gordillo will be teaching Outdoor Sculpture during summer track B, which will be completely online. You can take the class from anywhere!

The class focuses on making works of art outside. And — because of the world we’re in — it will also include many opportunities for creating connections with community (even at a distance). We’ll learn from environmental artists and from artists whose work brings people together, and you’ll make your own works of art, wherever you are.

There are no prerequisites. No experience is necessary, and very few tools are required. This is a HASS class. Everyone is welcome.

Student Jazz Award Winners Announced

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

This fund provides cash awards to students for Outstanding Jazz Musician and Most Improved Jazz Musician. Individuals who participate in the Jazz Lab Band, the Research and Development Big Band, and the Workshop Big Band are eligible.

Most Improved was awarded to Steven Turnbull, while the Outstanding Jazz Musician was awarded to two students – Alek Ertman and Ryan Briggs.

These awards were slated to be announced during the Don Keranan Memorial Jazz Concert on March 20th, but was cancelled.

Jazz Award winner Steven Turnbull
Steven Turnbull is a first year student pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and a minor in Technical Theatre. As a trumpet player, he loves listening to and playing in all kinds of bands, especially jazz. Although he thinks mathematically, he is able to express his artistic side through music. He takes his education seriously and loves to learn new things from any kind of subject.
Alek Ertman is a third year student at Michigan Tech. He is an Electrical Engineering major with a focus in Automation and Controls. In addition to his studies, Alek also plays bass in the top jazz ensemble, and top jazz combo. Some of his musical influences include Stuart Zender, Paul Chambers, and Charlie Haden.
Ryan Briggs jazz award winner
Ryan Briggs is a first year Computer Engineering
student also pursuing minors in Mathematics and Music Composition. Here at Tech, Ryan is the Bassist for the R&D Jazz Band, a Huskies Pep Band ‘Rumpet, and co-founder and bassist of a student run Video Game Music Jazz Ensemble. While he enjoys studying engineering, his other passion lies in music. He hopes to one day compose music professionally on the side. 

Isolation, Collaboration and All That Jazz

Despite the challenges of social distancing and virtual instruction, the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired some creative collaborations that span not only academic disciplines, but hundreds of miles. Adam Meckler (VPA), Michigan Tech’s director of jazz studies, recently connected with a former college classmate and both brought along students for the collaboration.

Adam Meckler

The project is a video/audio exchange between Meckler’s jazz students at Michigan Tech and students from the Department of Dance at the State University of New York-Brockport. Meckler’s partner at SUNY-Brockport is Greg Woodsbie, lead professional staff accompanist and music instructor. Meckler said the idea of a jazz/dance collaboration began to take shape when he and Woodsbie were undergraduates at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, nearly 15 years ago.

“We played in many bands together over the years, but the first was a 12-piece salsa band when we were students at Lawrence,” Meckler said. While the salsa band spent many hours rehearsing, they didn’t “get it” until their first gig. “There were dancers there. It was then that we recognized how the dancers elevated the music and likewise how the music elevated the dancers.”

It is this mutual elevation that Meckler and Woodsbie’s students are exploring, even though they are more than 800 miles apart. “Each Tech student is paired with a dancer,” Meckler explained. “Our jazz students will send over 30 seconds of recorded music and the dancers will send over 30 seconds of dance.”

The guidelines are simple — there aren’t any. “The music can be anything the students can dream up and execute,” he said. “Some will improvise on a trumpet, trombone or saxophone while some might record multiple layers and instruments.” The same goes for the dancers — their contribution can be virtually anything.

Once the students exchange material, the fun begins. “The musician will record music over the dance video and the dancer will do some kind of choreography to the music sent in the exchange,” Meckler said. Following a dialogue to discuss what worked and what didn’t, the students will vote on their favorite collaborations, with the winners forming a single video to be released on social media.

Meckler said he and Woodsbie feel the collaboration goes to the heart of the two art forms. “Historically, music and dance are not two separate art forms, but one. We are well-served to explore these folkloric roots, in turn integrating art into our lives and culture.”

At the same time, it’s also a fun and healthy form of symbiosis — musicians and dancers complementing each other. “The dialogue between music and dance elevates both parties,” he said. “Dancers deepen the practice that is crucial to artists — developing an intimate relationship with your materials. Musicians are reminded of the body and that music ultimately comes from movement.”

Meckler, Woodsbie and their students are proving that creativity and art can flourish, even in the time of social distancing. As Meckler puts it, “The dialogue between the dancer and the musician will teach both parties the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary collaboration. The participants will observe these benefits and challenges and will discuss perceived successes and failures in dialogue throughout this process.”

Meckler to Headline Two Major Jazz Festivals

Director of Jazz Studies Adam Meckler to Headline Two Major Jazz Festivals: Coe College Jazz Summit and the Augustana Jazz Festival

Adam Meckler, Michigan Tech’s Director of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music, a gifted trumpet player, composer, and music educator, has been tapped to headline not one but TWO big national jazz festivals in the next seven days: First, he will head to Coe College, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the largest annual jazz festival in Iowa, the Coe College Jazz Summit, Thursday, Feb. 27 – Saturday, Feb. 29. More than 90 high school bands participate, and he will be coaching the high school bands for the first few days of the festival. Meckler then will rehearse and perform as the featured guest artist with the Coe College Jazz Ensemble, doing a mix of his compositions and other big band music for their finale concert on Saturday, February 29. Then on Monday, Meckler will travel to Sioux Falls South Dakota for the Augustana College’s 46th annual Jazz on the Upper Great Plains Festival, set for March 2-3, 2020, in Augustana’s Hamre Recital Hall. The festival features Meckler and host of PBS’ Sound Field, Arthur “L.A.” Buckner. 

LA is one of the top drummers and educators in Minneapolis, and is gaining national recognition for his drumming and his work with PBS. Interestingly, LA is a former student of Meckler’s at McNally Smith College of Music, his previous teaching position. LA and Meckler will be performing Meckler’s compositions with the Augustana University Jazz Ensemble after a few days of tag-team coaching area high school groups who attend the festival.

For more information about both festivals, concert dates, and tickets, please visit their websites: 

http://www.public.coe.edu/~wcarson/summit.htm

http://www.augie.edu/arts/camps-festivals-and-competitions/46th-annual-jazz-on-upper-great-plains-festival

Tech Theatre Company Presents “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!”

The Michigan Tech Theatre Company will perform the longest-running cabaret musical in history, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” for seven performances. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 20-22) and Wednesday through Saturday, (Feb. 26-29) in the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center.

Based on the book by Joe DiPietro, with music by Jimmy Roberts, the musical takes on the comedic side of love and marriage, painting a series of vignettes about relationships through the tumultuous dating scene, road trips, marriage, kids, and all the other troubles couples face.

 “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” has been making auiences around the world laugh and cry for twenty-four years. It tackles the goofy, embarrassing, unspoken truths of relationships with a collection of short stories that span as many different lives. The musical has been translated into 17 languages and performed in over 34 countries. Act one shows the panic, disappointment and excitement of the search for the right someone. Act two reveals the stress of in-law visits, kids, car trips, and all the other adventures couples thought would be different for them. Upbeat from the beginning, the show builds laugh upon laugh until the bittersweet moments before the final curtain.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To buy your tickets, call 906-487-2073, visit mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office, or at the McArdle Theatre the night of the show. 

Note: This show contains adult language and situations.

Fiesta! Comes to the Rozsa

Michigan Tech’s Rozsa Center and Department of Visual and Performing Arts are pleased to present a family friendly event of music, storytelling, puppetry, and more. The Superior Wind Symphony presents a concert of original Latin American music by celebrated Guatemalan composer Raúl López Colibrí. The compositions are arranged by Director of Bands Mike Christianson with children’s choir direction by Amanda Plummer.

The show doesn’t stop there—Local poet, formerly of Guatemala, Hugo Gordillo will present his collection of children’s poetry on which the music was based, in a pre-concert party hosted by Hugo Gordillo and Christ Alquist, with crafts, storytelling, and more fun, in the Rozsa lobby, making this truly an event for the whole family.

Poems and children’s stories will be read in both Spanish and English, and the entire evening will be the culmination of work by poets, Spanish language professors, theatre and fine art professors, and local and Guatemalan poets, writers, artists, musicians, and students.

The pre-concert “fiesta party” begins at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, February 15, and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a live shadow-puppet performance during the concert presented by Patricia Helsel.

Colibrí is a Guatemalan musician, composer, puppetry artist, and music educator. He has produced six albums of children’s music, a children’s radio theatre, and several musical books for children. He often hosts workshops on creativity, music, puppetry, and theatre to share his skills with the world. He hopes to extend this collaboration with Michigan Tech artists for a long time. The music he composed for Fiesta! will also be performed by the Guatemalan Symphony Orchestra in Guatemala City this and next year. The concert will be accessible via live-streaming, and a concert CD will be created to mark the cultural exchange.

Hugo Gordillo is a prolific poet and the author of Fiesta!, a children’s poetry collection and the inspiration for this musical event. First published in 2013, Gordillo wrote the collection while sitting in the parks of Guatemala City, listening to children playing games and singing songs. The book includes a story about the friendship between a drum and a flute; birds who play musical instruments; magical flowers; and a monkey who is always playing tricks. He is an award-winning journalist and the founder of the PEN Writers’ Center of Guatemala, an organization for supporting journalists, writers, and editors.

Helsel, who is developing puppets for the event, hosted a summer puppetry workshop at the Copper Country Community Arts Center to prepare for it. Participants young and old worked with her to create shadow puppets, dancing flowers, and “el torito del fuego,” (a “little bull of fire”). The bull is part of many Guatemalan celebrations and will make an appearance in the concert. VPA faculty member Lisa Gordillo and her Contemporary Sculpture students helped to develop the concert bull puppet.

Tickets are on sale now: $13 for adults and $5 for youth, or no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To buy your tickets, call (906) 487-2073, visit mtu.edu/rozsa, or in person at the Central Ticketing Office. Tickets are also available the night of the show at the Rozsa Box Office two hours prior to performances.

Backstage Jazz Cabaret Friday and Saturday

Trumpet and vintage microphone

Michigan Tech’s newest director of Jazz Studies, Adam Meckler, presents another backstage jazz experience at the Rosza Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, January 24/25. Student jazz combos and a few guest artists will play pieces from across the genre’s history, dipping into traditional jazz, hard bop, funk and more. The Rozsa’s main stage will be converted into a classic jazz club complete with café tables and refreshments. The club atmosphere will help the bands guide you through this colorful history and flex their creative muscles, telling the story of the art as it has evolved through time.

“Our four Jazz combos will perform music by artists such as Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Thundercat, Louis Cole, Roy Hargrove, Snarky Puppy and more. We will transform the stage into a classic jazz club atmosphere. Enjoy some drinks and popcorn while you soak it all in!” – Adam Meckler

This will be the first home show for the Jazz Band after they toured Chicago. In early January, the Michigan Tech Jazz Lab Band went on a road trip down to Chicago to play with the Adam Meckler Orchestra, one of Meckler’s other many projects, at the fast-growing Chicago performance and art space, the Fulton Street Collective. The Lab Band opened the first set for the orchestra, which plays Meckler’s own original compositions. The new director says the experience was a paradigm shift for the band; he believes the group is now reaching a new level of music since experiencing the big city jazz scene.

Meckler joined the Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts faculty as the Director of Jazz Studies in the fall of 2019 after a decade-long career playing, writing, and teaching music out of Minneapolis. The Adam Meckler Orchestra’s debut album was listed on 2014’s Best Jazz Releases by iTunes. As a freelance trumpeter, he has worked with artists like The Temptations, The Four Tops, Cory Wong of Vulfpek, and other big names. 

Tickets are on sale now: $15 for adults and $5 for youth, or no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To buy your tickets, call 906-487-2073, go online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the SDC or go to the Rozsa Center box office within two hours prior to the performances. 

In the News: Michigan Tech to hold Jazz Cabaret concerts

Student Awards at KCACTF

Last week, Visual and Performing Arts students attended the Kennedy Center / American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF Region 3) in Madison, WI. A number of our students did well at the festival.

Sage Moser, Reece Parsons, and Moira Van Loon were all finalists for the KCACTF unrealized regional sound design competition.

Maddy Hunt was the winner for realized design (for sound design for in Michigan Tech’s production of Eurydice) and will have an expenses-paid trip to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC for the national festival. While at the festival she will have opportunities for feedback from professional theatrical sound designers and she will compete for other national awards.

Ken Steiner Memorial Benefit Concert Friday

When longtime local resident Ken Steiner suddenly passed away three years ago, family, friends and the entire community came together for a memorial to celebrate all the lives he touched through his decades of good work to make the Keweenaw, and the world, a better place.

From a long list of friends playing the music to the majority of area restaurants where he worked providing food, there was an overwhelming outpouring of love, support and goodwill. Above all, there was a strong sense that the work Ken championed, the positive energy and creative spirit he inspired, would continue, carried forward by those who knew and loved him.

This year, the Rozsa Center, Michigan Tech’s Dining Services, Visual and Performing Arts Department, Roy’s Pasties & Bakery, Mu Beta Psi, Fifth & Elm Coffeehouse, and the Bonfire Bar & Grill, want to extend that spirit and goodwill by hosting the third annual benefit in Ken’s honor for his favorite charity: Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

The event, from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday (Jan. 10) in the Rozsa Center Lobby, will feature good food, a cash bar, and once again a host of Ken’s friends and former bandmates making the music.

Ticket prices are: $20/donation of your choice. 100% of ticket sales will be donated in Ken’s name to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

Musicians featured:

  • 6:30 p.m. — The Steve Jones Trio
  • 7:15 p.m. — Keweenaw Brewgrass
  • 8:15 p.m. — Bob Hiltunen All Stars
  • 9:15 p.m. —Uncle Pete’s All-Star BBQ Blues Band with special guest John Peiffer

To purchase tickets, call 906-487-2073, go online, or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex (SDC). Tickets will also be available at the Rozsa Box office on the evening of the benefit.

Trombone Choir Holiday Concert Thrusday

The Michigan Tech Trombone Choir will present its annual December concert at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Dec. 12) in the Rozsa Center lobby. As always, the event is free of charge.

The Trombone Choir is a volunteer ensemble of non-majors that meets in the fall semester for one hour each week, culminating in this performance. We have 16 players this year and are excited to bring you the following program:

  • Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Mvt. 1- Mozart/Forbes
  • Back to the Fair- Trad. arr B. Reichenbach
  • Salvation is Created- Chesnokov arr. M. Christianson
  • Christmas Suite- Steve Tyler
  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear- R.S. Willis/T. Pederson
  • Achieved is the Glorious Word- Haydn/D.G. Miller
  • Mira- J.J. Johnson/arr. M. Christianson
  • Passacaglia- Lauren Bernofsky
  • Tiger Rag-arr. Jack Gale
  • Suite of 5 Carols- arr. Wilbur Collins

This performance, like all Michigan Tech performances this year, should also be available via video and audio streaming.