Category Archives: Announcements

Visual & Performing Arts Students Receive Numerous Awards at Theatre Festival

Sound and Theatre students from the Visual and Performing Arts Department recently attended the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival (Region III) in Madison, Wisconsin. Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center’s founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.
Visual and Performing Arts students presented their work to a jury of professionals and received a number of awards.  Top award winners in the design competition will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national festival design competition.
The award recipients were as follows:
Jason Bates: Recipient Regional Sound Design Competition top prize
Joseph Styers: Honorable Mention Regional Sound Design Competition
Makenzi Wentela: Honorable Mention Regional Lighting Design Competition, Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Don Childs Award
David Brown: Honorable Mention Allied Design and Technologies Award
Sarah Calvert: Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Don Childs Award, Finalist for the National Award for Theatrical Design Excellence, Honorable mention team for Design Storm for their design of Chicago
Students also participated in the Tech Olympics, team competitions showcasing skills in areas of technical theatre.  Michigan Tech Students took top prizes in a number of categories:
Overall first place: Lexa Walker and Zep Elkerton
First place Sound: Lexa Walker and Zep Elkerton
First Place Props: Lexa Walker and Zep Elkerton
First Place Costumes: Lexa Walker and Zep Elkerton

New Music for a New Year

“New Music for a New Year: Music from the North Woods,” a festival of three unique concerts will take January 19th and 20th. The event is presented by the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Libby Meyer (VPA) director of the Music Composition Program.

The festival is a series of concerts of contemporary music written by composers either from or who have lived in the Upper Peninsula. The concerts feature Houghton native Elena Ruehr, composer and award-winning faculty member at MIT.

Elena Ruehr

There will be a Master Class presented by Ruehr at 3 p.m. January 19th in the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center, featuring a recital of music by student composers.

The festival continues that evening with an intimate evening “Backstage” performance at 7:30 PM in the Rozsa Center, featuring the music of Evan Premo, Libby Meyer, Thomas LaVoy, Abbie Burt Betinis, Carrie Biolo,  Patrick Booth, Christopher Plummer and featuring Elena Ruehr’s Third String Quartet.

The final concert will take place at 3 p.m. January 20th in the McArdle Theatre with music by Griffin Candey, Josh Loar, Sarah Rimkus, Milton Olsson, Stephen Rush and featuring the piece “Lucy” by Ruehr.

The Upper Peninsula has produced and inspired many talented composers and performers. “New Music for a New Year” will feature a number of these composers whose work is as diverse and beautiful as the landscape that inspired them.

Ruehr’s recent two-CD release was selected as Gramophone Critic’s Choice in December. Gramophone, the world’s leading classical music publication, described Reuhr as “A new, living master of the quartet medium.”

The concert will feature the Superior String Alliance String Quartet, ConScience Chamber Singers, and two works by Ruehr performed by her Third String Quartet (Saturday) and “Lucy” (January 20th) a work which will feature ConcertCue, a web application developed at MIT for streaming synchronized program notes during a live musical performance.

Meyer’s interest in natural soundscapes, conservation of special places and curiosity about the relationship between the arts and the natural world fuel her work. She is a co-founder of the Keweenaw Soundscape Project established to aurally document the Keweenaw region and surrounding lands for ecological, social and artistic value, has served as an Artist in Residence at Isle Royale National Park and has written a number of compositions inspired by the landscape.

Note the Saturday matinee concert is free. Tickets for the Saturday evening and Sunday New Music for a New Year festival concerts are on sale now. Tickets are $15 General Admission, $5 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

Tickets are available by phone at 487-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the SDC or at door before the performance. The box office opens approximately one hour prior to performances.


Ken Steiner Memorial Benefit Concert

When longtime local resident Ken Steiner passed away suddenly two 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 good will. And, above all 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 for the Performing Arts, Michigan Tech’s Dining Services, the Visual and Performing Arts Department, and National Honorary Musical Fraternity Mu Beta Psi, want to extend that spirit and good will, by hosting the second annual benefit in Ken’s honor for his favorite charity: Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, featuring good food, a cash bar, and once again a host of Ken’s friends and former band mates making the music, on Friday, January 11 at 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm, in the Rozsa Center Lobby. Ticket prices are in a range of “donation levels,” so that everyone who attends can support the fundraiser at a level they choose.

Musicians featured:

  • Tom Katalin at 7:00 PM
  • Uncle Pete’s All Star BBQ Blues Band at 8:15 PM
  • The Mike Christianson Quartet at 9:30 PM

Ticket prices are: $10/$20/$30/donation of your choice. 100% of ticket sales will be donated in Ken’s name to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

Tickets are available online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the SDC, by phone at 7-2073 or at the Rozsa Center box office the night of the concert.


In the News

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble

Michigan Tech’s Director of Bands, Mike Christianson performs with the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble.

The JHLE recording: “All Can Work” was today named one of the “Best in Jazz 2018” by the New York Times — the only large ensemble to make the list. Mike is pictured playing trombone with the JHLE at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC. He is the trombonist closest to the drums, which are played by composer/leader John Hollenbeck. Lead trumpeter Tony Kadleck (red shirt in the back) is also lead trumpet in Maria Schneider’s Jazz Orchestra, and lead trumpet in Broadway’s “Frozen: The Musical”. Kadleck will be playing with the MTU Jazz ensembles here in March!


Auditions for Agnes of God Tonight

Auditions for Agnes of God will be held this evening, Wednesday, November 28th at 7:00 pm. in Walker 210.

The roles are for 3 women:

Mother Miriam Ruth — Actor able to play 40-60 yrs. old.  Devout.  Became a nun after having a family.  Wants to keep peace and (possibly) save face for the religious order.  Sincerely has Agnes’ best interests in mind as she tries to protect her from jail or the asylum.

Dr. Martha Livingstone — Psychiatrist, (Actor able to play 40-60 yrs. old)  She’s seen it all.  While she has a tough exterior, she struggles with personal demons.  Still, she is quite compassionate.  A chain smoker.

Agnes — Novice who denies giving birth.  Innocent.  Sings like an angel.  She was abused by her mother and is forced to face this reality at the show’s climax.

No preparation is necessary, but scripts are available to check out in the office of Visual and Performing Arts. The audition will be cold readings from the script.
Rehearsals will be next semester, with performances February 21-23, Feb 28-Mar 2.

Meditation Circuit: Join Anne Beffel for an Open Studios Event Today

Photo by Nat Seymour

Professor and public artist Anne Beffel (VPA) will hold an open studio event from 6 to 8 p.m. today (Nov. 28) in the Studio for Here and Now in the basement of Wadsworth Hall (G04W), across from WMTU.

At a 6:45 p.m. presentation, Beffel will discuss a public art and meditation walk in an urban forest she and the City Meditation Crew installed in Shoreline, Washington.

Beffel says, “Meditation Circuit is a series of meditation stations along a pathway marked by public art work. Each station offers a mindfulness-oriented activity intended to support well-being. Explore: listening; walking; even using cell phones as tools for meditating on colors in an urban forest. Meditation Circuits demonstrate the power of meditation and the value of public art.”

Meditation Circuit is inspired in part by the City Meditation Crew project, “Many Colors of Green,” in fall 2017 at Hamlin Park in which community members walked meditatively and contemplated their park using their cell phones as tools for attentiveness.

More information is available online.


Student Shares Theatre and Electronic Media Performance Experience

Callisto CortezIt’s not typical for a person to study Theatre and Electronic Media Performance at a university more known for engineering. As I thought about my education at Michigan Tech and this unique program, that not many people pursue in the Upper Peninsula, I realized how extraordinary my college adventure would be. I am a fourth-year Theatre and Electronic Media Performance major, minoring in Technical Theatre, and my name is Callisto Cortez.

Over the years I’ve fallen in love with my department and the people that have become some of my closest friends. The tight-knit community that is the Visual and Performing Arts department works as a family and all the students can get one-on-one discussions and attention from each of our professors. Within my first year and a half at Michigan Tech, I was able to complete my Acting Practicums. Each practicum was worth 1 credit, which means I had already acted in 3 productions with the Tech Theatre. It’s been an incredible learning experience, for the fact that I was able to immerse myself in the program right away. By the first semester of my second year, I was cast in my first leading role for the Tech Theatre, Silent Sky.

I have realized how extremely passionate I am about theatre and how fortunate I am to make my dreams into a reality by making my hard work pay off.

The major of Theatre and Electronic Media Performance at Michigan Tech caters to each student individually as artists. At first, my mindset was focused primarily on performance and enhancing my acting abilities. Then, I discovered my love for the technical aspects of theatre as well, which lead me to taking technical theatre courses. My second year, I helped to paint an entire set for The Irresistible Rise of Arturo Ui, and also stage manage the production of Sexual Perversity in Chicago During these two semesters, I was the lead in Silent Sky for the Fall semester and a dancer in West Side Story spring semester.

Now, I want to be able to act in a show, stage manage another, assist in any type of design, and just get to know the people who make an entire production happen.



“Never Empty” artist Dylan Miner featured in Keweenaw Now

Dylan MinerHOUGHTON — Dylan Miner identifies strongly with his  Wiisaakodewinini, or Métis, ancestors — a people of mixed indigenous and European ancestry who have lived in both Canada and the United States. Since his own family ancestors lived on Drummond Island in Lake Huron, water, land and settler colonialism are important elements of his art, his activism and his scholarship and teaching.

Miner is Director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and Associate Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. He sits on the Michigan Indian Education Council and is a founding member of the Justseeds artists collective. Miner holds a PhD from The University of New Mexico and has published more than sixty journal articles, book chapters, critical essays, and encyclopedia entries.

Presenting himself humbly as a learner of indigenous languages, Miner introduced himself to the audience at Michigan Tech in two of them.

In addition to expressing his environmental concerns, Miner demonstrated how he uses art on social media to call attention to socio-political injustices against indigenous people. He also displayed artwork created by one of his own Métis ancestors.

Bonnie Peterson, a local artist who attended Miner’s talk, was impressed by his use of art to communicate messages on social media.

“His work turns the patriarchial power establishment on its head,” Peterson said. “He reacts to current events by creating thoughtful, compelling images immediately, and freely distributing them on social media. His image ‘no pipelines in/under the great lakes’ is especially salient because of the threats to Great Lakes from oil spills, and also robbing the Great Lakes of water.”

Miner also mentioned how he altered some of his images after talking with people directly impacted by extractive industries. He noted as an example his discussions with Menominee tribal activists fighting Aquila’s Back 40 mining project, which could destroy indigenous sacred sites and impact the Menominee River. He changed his original design to include the Menominee ancestral bear and the sturgeon.

Collaboration is important in Miner’s work. He spoke about working with others to create projects that combine creative activities with environmental consciousness or stewardship, such as a traditional building of a birch bark canoe, an urban sugar bush, Native kids riding bikes and his recent Drummond Island reclamation project.

According to Lisa Gordillo, curator of the exhibit, “Miner’s work reimagines the landscape through digitally adjusted images that counterbalance cyanotype and contemporary processes. Cyanotype is an antiquated photographic method developed in 1842, the same year that the Treaty of La Pointe ceded Anishinaabeg Lands in the western Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin. The artist’s use of cyanotype builds a physical and conceptual connection to colonial Land expropriation, capitalist expansion, and the development of new image-making technologies. Our viewpoint is stirred as Miner distorts his original images, applying pigments, minerals, and smoke, shifting their size and scale.”

Local artist Joyce Koskenmaki, who attended Miner’s talk and visited the exhibit, commented on the cyanotype images.

“Dylan’s cyanotype images at the Rosza are beautiful,” Koskenmaki said. “His work and his talk speak to me about art for poor people: art that can be done with simple materials, and art with a message. I felt inspired.”

Miguel Levy, artist and Michigan Tech professor of physics, who is active in the local Indigenous Peoples’ Day Campaign group, said he was especially impressed by Miner’s connections between art and indigenous resistance.

Levy noted, “Regarding Dylan Miner’s talk, I found the connections he made during his talk quite illuminating: [between] the social and political dimensions of his art, between indigenous culture and resistance to environmental devastation, and between the revolutionary potential of the indigenous tradition and its points of coincidence with the anti-hierarchical and anti-capitalist traditions of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union.”

Emily Shaw, Michigan Tech PhD student in environmental engineering, who introduced Miner, told Keweenaw Now Miner’s stories and connections inspired her to ask herself questions.

“So often we view art and science as unrelated but making art and doing science are processes that require us to ask ourselves what do we know and what skills do I have that can contribute to our learning? Dylan opened with those questions and shared the story of his art, weaving connections between land abuses, indigenous rights, and labor unions. I left inspired to make such connections in my work as a scientist.”

Dylan Miner has also authored and edited several limited-edition books // booklets. His book Creating Aztlán: Chicano Art, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Lowriding Across Turtle Island was published in 2014 by the University of Arizona Press. In 2010, he was awarded an Artist Leadership Fellowship through the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. He has been an artist-in-residence at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, École supérieure des beaux-arts in Nantes, Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, Rabbit Island, and The Santa Fe Art Institute.

Learn about Dylan Minor’s projects. Thanks to Bonnie Peterson for this link.

Learn more about Dylan Miner and the art he shares on justseeds.org.

By Michele Bourdieu
With videos and photos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now


Superior Wind Symphony Presents Wisdom from Experience

Wisdom from Experience

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts present a concert by the Superior Wind Symphony titled “Wisdom from Experience,” a celebration of the music of long-lived composers, in honor of composers whose lives have been cut short.

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Nov. 9) in the Rozsa Center.

According wind symphony band leader Mike Christianson, “The Superior Wind Symphony is the premier wind ensemble at Michigan Tech. Superior Winds concerts offer symphonic thrills, innovative programming, fruitful collaborations and exciting premieres. These concerts feature music from the standard repertoire and often utilize innovative formats that include visual art, the spoken word and dance.”

Christianson says the ensemble makes its home in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, a hall acclaimed nationally for its acoustics and beauty.

“The ensemble undertakes concert tours on behalf of the university throughout the Great Lakes region. Superior Winds is an auditioned ensemble of winds and percussion that performs the music of composers spanning five centuries, living and not, from all genders, ethnicities and genres” he adds.

Tomorrow’s program includes four original pieces by Christianson, along with Kenny Wheeler, Bob Brookmeyer, Florence Price and Maria Schneider.

Other composers whose works will be performed include Ottorino Respighi, John Williams, Jay Bocook, Percy Grainger, Fred Sturm, J.S. Bach, Gustav Holst, WC Handy, William Grant Still and Vincent Persichetti.

Tickets for “Wisdom from Experience” 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 at mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

Note: The Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.