Category: Announcements

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.


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: Illeana Barragan 

Illeana is a 3rd year Sound Design student from Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan. She has worked as a sound designer on the Haunted Mine for the past 2 years. Illeana has also spent this semester working as a sound designer for the Tech Theatre production of She Kills Monsters that will take place next year.

Student of Promise: Isabel Velancia

Isabel is a third year environmental engineering major with a biology minor from Houghton, Michigan. She plays piano in the Jazz Lab Band and the top Jazz combo. She also plays piano, harpsichord, and organ in the Superior Wind Symphony. She always enjoys getting to play awesome music with great people, and is looking forward to having another year of learning and growing as a musician here at MTU.

All Arts: Madi Wentela

Madi is from Stafford, Virginia, and is a second year Theatre and Entertainment Technology major with an Art minor. She came to Michigan Tech to focus on stage management, and in her time here, she has been given the opportunity to both learn about management and delve into her artistic interests in a way she didn’t expect. In her first semester, she worked with a few members of our arts faculty and learned what kinds of art she wanted to engage with, and since then has worked on many department projects. She’s had the opportunity to be a sculptural artist twice in the Rozsa galleries, both for solo and group projects, as well as work as a scenic artist for on-campus murals, and as a costume artisan on a few various theatrical projects. She served as the stage manager for the Tech Theatre production of Talking With.

Art: Emily Wiscz

Emily is from Galesburg, Michigan and is graduating this semester with her B.S. in Psychology and minors in both Math and Art. She is eager to integrate mindfulness, Gestalt psychology and visual art. During her time at Michigan Tech, she has been involved in Psi Chi honor society, Association of Psychology Students, Alpha Gamma Delta, and various other organizations. This past year, she has also been involved in the Cognitive Learning Sciences Research Lab studying aging and motor learning. After her undergrad she will be continuing her studies as a PhD student in the field of Neuroscience.

Music: Ryan Briggs

Ryan is a 2nd Year Computer Engineering student here at Michigan Tech from Brownstown, Michigan, who is also studying for Minor in Music Composition. Despite Engineering being his major, he also has a passion and love for music. Ryan is on track for the Music Composition Minor which has given him the opportunity to compose for many talented people including musicians here at Tech, in addition to professional dancers and video game development students. In addition, Ryan is a member of various ensembles. He plays Trumpet in the Huskies Pep Band, Trumpet and Upright Bass in the Campus Concert Band, and Electric Bass in the R&D Big Band and the Game Cabinet Collective, which he co-founded with Sean Hanson to play their own original Jazz Band arrangements of video game music. That ensemble is entirely student run and producing an album for release this summer. Finally, Ryan is the vice president of the Theme Park Engineering Group, as he’d like to enter the themed entertainment industry one day doing engineering.

Sound:  Moira Van Loon

Moira is from West Bloomfield, Michigan and graduated with a B.S. in Audio Production and Technology with a minor in Music Composition. Some of her recent projects include composing the music for a video game project in collaboration with game design students at UW Stout, composing the music for the play Miasma, and serving as recording and mix engineer for the KSO and Choir, and creating an original YouTube channel for her solo music and art project Belly Elf. 

Theatre: Ally Southgate

Ally is from Unionville, Michigan and will be a 4th year Theater and Entertainment Technology student. Ally was the Stage Manager for Tech’s production of Miasma and has received a Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Award nomination for her role as Big Eight in Tech’s production of Talking With.

Milton Olsson Music Award:  Chloe Looman

Chloe is finishing her third year as a Biological Sciences major and Psychology minor, with goals of Medical School next. She is from the Grand Rapids area and has been playing the violin since the first grade. She greatly enjoys her time so far in the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, and pit orchestra for the Nutcracker and Sunday in the Park with George. Outside of the arts she is also an EMT with Michigan Tech EMS and a research assistant in Dr. Yu’s lab studying Optogenetic stimulation of the brain.

Marian and John Irish Award for Environmental Art: Michelle Kline

Michelle is a physics major from Green Bay, Wisconsin. She has always been fascinated by the relationship between art and science. Between climate studies in physics, the beauty of the Keweenaw and the thoughtful guidance of her professors, she became attuned also to the impact of art on our environment. While studying at Michigan Tech, she was able to explore both topics in depth through a variety of media including ceramics and painting. 

The Jazz Award recipients can be viewed here.

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


Superior Wind Symphony: Reparations

The Superior Wind Symphony, under the direction of Dr. Michael Christianson, use the unique setting of the 2020-21 academic year to explore the music of Black composers in a series of streaming performances.  You may be familiar with some names: Ray Charles, Duke Ellington…but you are likely less familiar with others like Joseph Boulogne, Will Marion Cook, James Reese Europe, or Alton A. Adams.

Mike has devoted the year to only performing music of Black composers. He has found some very interesting music and this falls right in line with our efforts at diversity.  The Reparations streams will be available through May 31.


Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra to Perform Sheherazade

by Chris Clonts

The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra will perform Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Sheherazade” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 24) at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, where the show can be seen in person. It will also be streamed online.

“Sheherazade,” composed in 1888 and adapted into a ballet in Paris in 1910, was inspired by “One Thousand and One Nights,” the collection of folk tales from the Islamic Golden Ages, and is being performed for the first time by the KSO. The complex piece sparkles with vivid orchestral color, exotic harmonies and gorgeous melodies.

“We are thrilled to present one of the most technically challenging works in the orchestral canon,” said Joel Neves, the orchestra’s music director. “It’s really a soloist’s paradise, featuring major solos for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, cello and — uniquely — second trombone.” Neves said the most important individual contribution is the recurring violin solo that will be performed by concertmaster Brian Wall. “It represents the mysterious Princess Sheherazade,” he said.

The story, as originally described by Rimsky-Korsakov, is the tale of the Sultan Schariar, who decides to put each of his wives to death in the belief that “women are false and faithless.” Sheherazade, though, prevents her own death by entertaining the sultan with tales for the 1,001 nights in the original collection’s title. Many may best know the composer for “Flight of the Bumblebee,” an interlude from his opera “Tale of the Tsar Saltan.”

The performance will be streamed live. Limited socially distanced seats will be available for students and the general public. Patrons will be required to wear a face mask and fill out a symptom monitoring form in order to attend. A ticket form can be filled out for the Michigan Tech Ticket Office.

Due to pandemic restrictions, the ticket office will first take ticket requests and then will contact audience members with more instructions on seat placement and payment.

Founded in 1971, the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra is the Upper Peninsula’s oldest orchestra and one of five symphony orchestras in the Lake Superior region. The KSO is a college-and-community ensemble composed of Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff, and community musicians.


Hip-Hop Dance Pioneer in Virtual Residence

Hip-Hop Dance Pioneer in Virtual Residence at Michigan Tech
to Explore Breaking, Jazz and How Artists Age

World-renowned hip-hop and breakdance artist Raphael Xavier will begin his virtual residence at Michigan Tech on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with an exploration of the ways maturity can alter both performer and performance in dance and jazz. 

“Raphael Xavier: Behind the Scenes of Sassafrazz, From Roots to Mastery” is the first in the series of virtual performances and events for the community. “Sassafrazz,” originally intended to be seen live before the pandemic, is a 20-year exploration of the life of a breakdancer and explores birth, life and death through three breaking styles: top rock, footwork and ground text.

Xavier’s long career and breakdance research led to the development of ground core, a style that is said to give artists a better understanding of the body that is useful in all dance forms.

Mary Jennings, director of programming for the university’s Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, said that since the pandemic made an in-person performance of Xavier’s planned tour impossible, the Rozsa team worked with Xavier’s team to build the virtual residency, which also includes a “Creative Jam Session” performance on April 13 from noon to 1 p.m.

“Together with his team, we didn’t want this to be just another virtual performance,” Jennings said.

Both the Thursday and April 13 performances are open to the public. Registration for the livestream can be completed at the Rozsa Center website.

Xavier and his company will improvise movement while accompanied by music and poems composed by Michigan Tech students. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Jennings also wanted the greater community to be able to access Xavier’s wisdom, so he will also be making a special virtual visit to Hancock’s Superior School of Dance. She credited his team for being so willing to explore the virtual residency concept.

“They were great to work with, and it’s just wonderful we have this extended access. Raphael is a true genius,” she said.

Xavier is an alumnus of the pioneering hip hop dance company Rennie Harris Puremovement. His solo and ensemble choreographic dance works have been performed worldwide. He is also a 2013 recipient of the Pew Fellowship, a 2014 MacDowell Fellowship, and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Xavier lives in Philadelphia and is a professor at Princeton University, where he teaches “History of Hip Hop Dance and Culture” and “Intro to Breaking” courses.

The presentation of Sassafrazz: From Roots to Mastery was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

What: Raphael Xavier: Behind the Scenes of Sassafrazz: From Roots to Mastery
When: Thursday, April 8, 2021, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Virtual event – Register Here

What: Raphael Xavier: Creative Jam Session With Music by Michigan Tech Students
When: Tuesday, April 13, 2021, noon-1 p.m.
Where: Virtual event – Register Here

This press release created by Chris Clonts, communications director for the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech. 


Adam Meckler: Making it in the New Music Economy

Adam Meckler, assistant professor of Visual and Performing Arts and director of Jazz Studies, shared his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this past Monday, April 5th.

Prof. Meckler talked about the shift of the music economy from selling albums to streaming, tools for young musicians looking to build a career in music, and ways for musicians to carve out passive income so they can focus on the music.

Jared Anderson, chair of Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts also joined in for Husky Bites. Prof. Anderson conducts conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers, and the internationally-touring Michigan Tech Concert Choir. 

Please visit the College of Engineering Blog post for the rest of this great article.