Category Archives: Music

New Director of Jazz Studies

Visual and Performing Arts announces Adam Meckler as the new Assistant Professor of Music/Director of Jazz Studies.

Mr. Meckler is the third director of the Jazz program that has a 52-year history of Jazz in the Midwest. Originally founded in 1967 under the direction of Don Keranen and continued under the direction of Mike Irish from 1991-2018 the non-major Jazz program at Michigan Tech has thrived at a school largely known for its STEM curriculum.

Dr. Michael Christianson, Director of Bands at Michigan Tech says, “Adam Meckler is a top-class performer and composer, but we were really impressed with his teaching: a great mix of modern and old-school!”

Professor Emeritus Mike Irish also comments, “I am very excited about the hiring of Adam Meckler as the new Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan Tech. He is a young, energetic, and extremely talented teacher/performer who will build on our strong tradition and take it to new levels of achievement. His pedigree is outstanding. I am really eager to have him in town and await the great performances that will ensue!”

© Tim McG Photo & Video

Mr. Meckler expresses his excitement for the post,

“I am humbled and honored to join MTU’s esteemed Faculty, and work with the gifted and bright Visual and Performing Arts students at MTU. I am thrilled to carry the torch forward, striving for the high level of excellence established by my predecessors.”

Mr. Meckler holds degrees from Lawrence Conservatory and the University of Minnesota. A trumpet player, composer, and educator living in Minneapolis, MN, Meckler is an Edwards Instrument Co. Performing Artist and Clinician, and leads The Adam Meckler Orchestra (AMO), an 18-piece big band that plays his original compositions. The AMO’s debut album ‘When the Clouds Look Like This’ was listed among 2014’s Best Jazz Releases by iTunes.

Mr. Meckler will come from faculty positions in trumpet and Jazz at Macalester College, MCTC, and MacPhail Center for Music. He tours and records with The Hornheads (Prince), Youngblood Brass Band, and Nooky Jones, and plays regularly with a host of bands around the Twin Cities including Lulu’s Playground, The Jana Nyberg Group, Jack Brass Band, The Graydon Peterson Quartet, and The Pete Whitman X-Tet.

His latest release Magnificent Madness is available via Ropeadope Records, and on all streaming platforms May 3rd, 2019.


KSO to Perform ‘Rhapsody in Blue’

Violinists in KSOThe Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra presents George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 20) in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Popularized in Disney’s “Fantasia 2000,” “Rhapsody in Blue” will be performed along with the haunting ballet music to Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” and the angst-ridden “Chamber Symphony” of Schoenberg.

Joel Neves, conductor for the event, gives a preview, “This is our last concert of the year, so we saved the very best for last. Everyone loves ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ one of the great jazz-infused orchestra works of all time. ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ features local pianist extraordinaire, Jon Ensminger, who plays the soaring, swinging, sophisticated piano solo. Also on the program is sublime music by Verdi, Schubert, and Schoenberg, as well as Stravinsky’s magical ‘Firebird Suite,’ also featured in Fantasia. You don’t want to miss this fantastic program!”

Founded in 1970, the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra is the Upper Peninsula’s oldest orchestra. The KSO is a college-community ensemble comprising Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff, and community musicians. Most of the musicians pursue something other than music as a career, with engineers, scientists, mathematicians, educators, and retirees filling the roster. Students occupy about 60 percent of the orchestra; none are music majors. The KSO presents 4-5 concerts per year—including choral-orchestral, opera, ballet, and pops—in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are on sale now, $19 for adults, $6 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 Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. The Rozsa Box Office opens two hours prior to performances.


New Works by Student Composers

Newest of the New,” celebrates the creative musical pursuits of Michigan Tech student composers with performances of their original pieces. This free concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (April 18) in McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center.

This year, the event will include compositions by David Brown, Sarah Calvert, Alan Harrison, Tyler Quinn, and Chris Wilson, all of whom are in the composition minor program. The performance pieces will be varied, incorporating a range of instruments and styles, including a string quartet.

“This is the culmination of the year,” says Libby Meyer, (Visual and Performing Arts) director of the Music Composition Program, “It’ll be awesome, and we want everyone to come.”

The event is free of charge, and is open to the public.


Annual Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Concert March 22

The jazz ensembles at Michigan Tech present the annual Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 22 in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

This annual event pays tribute to Keranen, originator of the Michigan Tech Jazz Studies Program. Featured in the concert will be the Jazz Lab Band and the Research and Development Band.

The Jazz Lab Band will perform works by Duke Ellington, including music composed for the film “Anatomy of a Murder.” In addition, it will play music by Gabriel Fauré, Steely Dan, Professor Emeritus Mike Irish (VPA), George Gershwin, Bob Brookmeyer and Chick Corea.

The Research and Development Band will perform works by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Horace Silver and more. Each of the large jazz ensembles will perform a piece featuring vocalist Clara Peterson, a Michigan Tech student. Also featured will be the premier of an original work composed by the Full Send Combo.

Tickets are on sale now, $15 for adults, $5 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available online, by phone at 487-2073, in person at the Central Ticket Office in the SDC or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

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


“Music For a Sacred Space” Sunday

The Michigan Tech Choirs present “Music For a Sacred Space,” an evening of sacred choral music in its natural habitat, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Lake Linden.

The Michigan Tech Concert Choir and conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers combine for a concert of sacred music to benefit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Conductor Jared Anderson (VPA) said this year’s music selection will be celebratory in nature.

“This event has become a tradition in the community. It’s an opportunity to hear music composed for sacred spaces in one of the most beautiful, resonant places for choral music in the Copper Country.”

The Michigan Tech Concert Choir is composed of 60 voices from the college community, with 24 singers comprising conScience. The concert will feature Leslie Dukes on the organ for three numbers, accompanying the concert choir, and will also have a number of a cappella performances.

“Music for a Sacred Space” is open to the public. There is no admission, but money collected from free-will offering will be donated to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


An Interview with Sound Design Alum Steven Green

Steve Green (BA Sound Design 2014) initially started at Michigan Tech as a geology major. After two years, he realized it wasn’t his passion, so he transferred into the sound design department at Tech. “Tech has a very thorough sound design department that allowed me to learn what I needed to graduate, as well as learn my own skill set that went toward my career path. I think some of my most memorable experiences were with my professors, Dr. Jared Anderson, Josh Loar, and Chris Plummer.”

Green has helped with projects ranging from virtual reality titles to exploratory games, and has launched approximately six games. Green’s game ‘ABZÛ’ was nominated for a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award and other awards. The game ‘What Remains Of Edith Finch’ is currently nominated for a few awards as well.

Green was interviewed last February by Los Angeles sound designed Colin Andrew Grant: Growth and Guidance: An Interview with Steven Green


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!