Category Archives: Michigan Tech News

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.


Dean’s Showcase

Lisa GordilloFor the Deans’ Teaching Showcase, Dean David Hemmer has selected Lisa Gordillo, assistant professor in Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).

Gordillo was nominated by VPA Chair Jared Anderson, who applauded the many interdisciplinary collaborations she has initiated to publicly exhibit student art, especially around campus.

Anderson highlighted a wide variety of projects,” ranging from artistic design for windows that would reduce bird-window collisions to carving and casting sculptures based on traditional models in partnership with the Materials Science and Engineering Department.”

Gordillo teaches a wide variety of courses including traditional sculpture, contemporary sculpture, art + design, scenic art and illustration, and advanced sculpture. All of these make important contributions to the general education program, the visual art minor and the major in theater and entertainment technology.

Lisa leads a very collaborative environment where students are encouraged to explore creative solutions to problems while creating beautiful art. Her curriculum uses gallery b in the Rozsa galleries as an interactive classroom space where students create art right where it will be installed for public exhibition.—Jared Anderson

In addition, barriletes (patterned after traditional Guatemalan barriletes) made by students in the Traditional Sculpture course are currently displayed in the Rozsa Center lobby.

Gordillo’s highly hands-on approach with a focus on exhibition is very popular with students as she was named a finalist for the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award, her third time as a finalist in the last four years.

Gordillo also connects her teaching with a much broader artistic context in her role as director of the Rozsa Art Galleries.  Recently, the exhibition, Salon!, opened in Gallery A in the Rozsa Center. This show brought together work from more than 30 artists and writers from around the world. Gordillo worked with student painters to transform the gallery into a space that was inspired by the salons of the late 19th century.

Dean Hemmer summarizes Gordillo’s impact by saying,  “I am grateful to have colleagues like Lisa. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting two magnificent shows that she curated in the Rosza Art Gallery. For the many students involved in putting these together, learning extends far beyond the classroom. Faculty like Lisa enliven Tech every day.”

Gordillo will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.


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


In the News – Haunted Mine and 41 North Film

The Visual and Performing Arts was in the news this past week for two different events.

Silhouettes of minersThe Haunted Mine presented by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts was covered by WLUC TV6.

Michigan Technological University VPA students installed 2,535 feet of speaker cable, 1,000 feet of microphone cable and 31 speakers to create the ultimate creepy soundscape for Quincy Mine’s annual haunted tour.

A half-mile in and seven levels below ground, the 15-by-15 dark tunnel awaits the brave souls who dare to enter for pre-Halloween tours Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 25-27. This is the second year Michigan Tech students in sound design and audio production and technology programs have collaborated on the project.


41 Film Festival logoThe upcoming 41 North Film Festival, beginning Thursday (Nov. 1) was covered by WJMN TV3. This year, the 41 North Film Festival will screen five films about history, issues and accomplishments related to STEM innovation in its lineup of more than 20 films.

 


Fundraiser Celebrates 25th Anniversary of VPA

Circle with Gala surrounded by colored splashesThis academic year, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Michigan Tech. We will hold a celebratory 25th Anniversary Gala beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Celebrate with an evening of cocktails, dinner and live arts entertainment. The VPA 25th Anniversary Gala will feature intimate performances in the lobby and on stage, and live auction supporting the Marian and John Irish Award for Environmental Art, the Visual and Performing Arts Department Theatre Scholarship Fund and the Rozsa Center’s Class Acts Program.

Come dressed for celebration. There will be a cocktail hour (cash bar), full dinner, live music throughout the evening both in the lobby and on stage, an auction of unique arts experiences, artists working during the gala and more.

Tickets for the evening are $75 per person. We will also be selling corporate tables (seating eight) for $1,000. Tickets can be purchased by calling the SDC Ticket Office at 7-2073 or following this link. More information can be found here.


Mike Christianson in the news!

Michigan Tech’s very own Michael Christianson in the news. A great review of his Lincoln Center appearance with the legendary Fred Hersch two weeks ago.

“…Mike Christianson‘s trombone proved to be an indispensable voice, covering the low-middle ground with strength.”

https://www.allaboutjazz.com/fred-herschs-leaves-of-grass-at-jazz-at-lincoln-center-fred-hersch-by-dan-bilawsky.php


Music-O-Rama: Celebrating Musical Variety at Michigan Tech

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 8.32.41 AMPlease join us for Music-O-Rama, an annual musical variety concert, celebrating the diversity, history, and variety of music at Michigan Tech. Performers from all of the major Michigan Tech music ensembles:  Jazz Lab Band, Superior Wind Symphony, Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers, Michigan Tech Concert Choir, and AstroSax; will appear throughout the hall, playing music from around the globe:  From America to  Latvia, France to Mexico, Brazil to Italy.

The concert will begin on a patriotic note with Igor Stravinsky’s arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner, for band and choir. Then enjoy more band and folk music selections including Yankee Doodle, Old Man River, and a Brazilian folk song, Samba-lelê, to stir memories and evoke bygone days. The Department of Visual and Performing Arts presents Music-O-Rama on Saturday, September 30, at 7:30 PM in the Rozsa Center.

This concert features performances from all of the auditioned music ensembles at Michigan Tech and shows how talented our students are.  Music-o-rama has become an audience favorite for the past number of years for its fast pace and varied repertoire.  I know that the audience will love the show.” There will be something for every musical taste, with composers including Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Ottorino Respighi, and Arturo Márquez.  The concert will end with the Superior Wind Symphony and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra combining for a performance of “The Pines of the Appian Way” from Respighi’s Pines of Rome. — Jared Anderson, associate professor of music, director of choral activities, and chair of vpa

Superior Wind Symphony, from their 2016 concert "Be Here Now. Mike Christianson, Director of Bands, conducting.
Superior Wind Symphony, from their 2016 concert “Be Here Now”. Mike Christianson, Director of Bands, conducting.

Tickets 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 (906) 487-2073, online at mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or the night of the show at the Rozsa Box Office, which opens two hours prior to performances.


Mike Christianson Plays the Lincoln Center this Weekend

Mike Christianson, left, with the Superior Wind Symphony.
Mike Christianson, left, with the Superior Wind Symphony.

Mike Christianson plays trombone at the outset of this mini-documentary…

Michael Christianson, Michigan Tech’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts Director of Bands, will perform in “Jazz at the Lincoln Center” with the legendary Fred Hersch, Kurt Elling & Kate McGarry in a performance titled “Leaves of Grass,” in the Appel Room at the Lincoln Center in New York City, this Friday and Saturday, at 7:00 PM and 9:30 PM nightly.  Christianson, trombonist and fifth generation band leader, came to Michigan Tech from New York City in 2012. Originally from Fargo, ND, Mr. Christianson moved to the NYC area to become a low brass performer after finishing his degree in Moorhead. He has built a varied, interesting and successful career as a musician, recording, touring, and performing with the greatest musicians of his time: From Ray Charles to Philip Glass. He has also performed in over 30 Broadway shows, is an active participant in the NYC free-lance scene where he established the Gotham Wind Symphony, continues to make special new music performances including Philip Glass’ The Bacchae in Central Park, Henry Brant’s Orbits for 80 trombones at the Guggenheim, and Anthony Braxton’s Composition #19 for 100 tubas at the World Financial Center.

Notable accolades for Mike’s performances include:

“Among the instrumental high points: …Mike Christianson’s plunger-muted trombone on ‘My Lovers Suffocate Me’”. -Don Heckman- Los Angeles Times

“…superb Tricky Sam is now plunger-muted trombone by Mike Christianson.” -Marc Meyers- All About Jazz (CD review)

“…trombonist Mike Christianson playing elegant solos, …” –           Will Stewart- Ann Arbor News

“…top honors for the brass section go to Mike Christianson, whose sexy growl highlighted “Part X: My Lovers Suffocate Me”…” -Greg Haymes- Albany Times Union

According to the Lincoln Center, “Originally premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2005, Leaves of Grass celebrates the life and poetry of the American bard Walt Whitman, whose work redefined American poetry and had a significant, life-affirming impact on Hersch. In this Appel Room performance, vocalists Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry will reprise their acclaimed roles from the original project, presenting Whitman’s words with grace, emotion, and a lyrical sweetness that would have made Whitman proud. An eight-piece ensemble, featuring trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis, trombonist Mike Christianson, multi-reedist Bruce Williamson, tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, cellist Jody Redhage, bassist John Hébert, and drummer John Hollenbeck, will assist them in evoking the sweeping melodicism for which Hersch is renowned. It’s been over 160 years since Whitman wrote his epic masterwork, “Song of Myself,” which forms the centerpiece of Hersch’s Leaves of Grass, and its messages seemed almost alien in our society at the time. Now, its promotion of unapologetic love for one’s true self, appreciation of the present, wonder at the miracle of nature, and the openhearted love of all beings is especially timely and important. It is a powerful and unique experience to witness this profound poetry spun into song by one of today’s leading musical visionaries.”  For more information about the Leaves of Grass event, please visit Jazz at the Lincoln Center online at jazz.org

Grammy-winning composer and pianist Fred Hersch, who has been described by the New York Times as “a master who plays it his way” will travel to Houghton in March 2018. The Rozsa Center will present a film based on his life titled “The Ballad of Fred Hersch” on March 22, and The Fred Hersch Trio will perform on the Rozsa stage on March 24th. For tickets and more details about the Fred Hersch events at the Rozsa Center, please visit mtu.edu/rozsa.


Corn Husks in the Rio San Juan

Recent Michigan Tech Grad Joins Visual Art Faculty as Artist in Residence in Guatemala

Gordillo and Fisher installing a sculpture in the Rio San Juan (San Juan River).
Gordillo and Fisher installing a sculpture in the Rio San Juan (San Juan River).
Rio San Juan Dia 2
Gordillo and Fisher preparing to install sculpture in the Rio San Juan.

Lisa Gordillo, assistant professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Michigan Tech, traveled to  Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for her recent exhibition at the Centro Cultural Efrain Recinos from July 15-Aug. 1, and also worked on an installation for Tierra Adentro, the International Poetry Festival of Aguacatan, where she created a sculpture in the Rio San Juan (San Juan River). Hannah Fisher, ‘17, who graduated with a minor in Visual Art, joined Gordillo to help with the river sculpture (which involved sewing corn husks together in the water!), and to join the Aguacatan Poetry Festival also as an artist in residence. The river sculpture, called Chuchos del Rio, was created to be part of a conversation about immigration, as part of the poetry festival.

The exhibit in Quetzaltenango, titled “Prohibido Orinar Aqui,” was developed from Gordillo’s spring exhibit, “ChickenBus,” in the Rozsa Gallery, and as Gordillo reports, was very well attended and received. She thanks all of the Michigan Tech students who both helped with the development of the work in the spring, related to Chicken Bus, and the outcome of that work which traveled with her as a part of the “Prohibido Orinar Aqui” exhibit.

Fisher was interviewed about her sculpture work, which appeared in the Equal and Opposite Show, in the Rozsa Gallery “gallery b” in 2016, and talks about her other art projects. She says “I was really influenced by Andy Goldsworthy. I really appreciated how he uses materials found in nature and manipulates them in ways not seen in nature. Nature is a big influence in my life.”  Listen to the interview on SoundCloud. It is 06:28 minutes in length.

According to Gordillo, “[Hannah and I] laughed a lot (and caused a lot of laughter) making our installation in the river. That work included filling our hotel showers with corn husks, then transporting them all to the river, then transporting them back, and finally (!) sitting in the river to sew them all together, with lots of onlookers asking an even larger batch of questions.”

Gordillo was also sculptor-in-residence at Tierra Adentro, the International Poetry Festival of Aguacatan, Guatemala. This year’s festival was dedicated to immigrants and displaced people. Gordillo and Fisher also created a migrating book as part of the festival.


Auditions for Two Tech Theatre Plays Sept. 6 – 7

Michigan Tech’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts’ Tech Theatre Company will hold auditions September 6 – September 7th in preparation for their first two plays of the 2017-18 performance season.  Auditions will be held at 7:00 PM each evening, those who wish to participate are asked to arrive 15 minutes early, at 6:45 PM. The auditions are open to anyone, and include opportunities for students and community members to perform in plays that will be held in the McArdle Theatre. The plays are Picasso at the Lapin Agile, by Steve Martin, and Fires in the Mirror, by Anna Devere Smith.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile  (McArdle)

Play run dates are October 12 – 14 & 18 – 20. Picasso at the Lapin Agile auditions will be in the McArdle Theatre, on Sept. 6 & 7, 7:00 PM. Play summary: Steve Martins’ thoughtfully comedic look at the 20th century. Sitting down for a few drinks at the Lapin Agile major and imaginary figures of the 20th century join us and in an evening we live through the perspective shifting experience of the 20th century. A century in an evening that makes it impossible to experience reality in the same way ever again. For questions regarding Picasso at the Lapin Agile, please contact Christopher Plummer, cplummer@mtu.edu, 906-487-3282.

Fires in the Mirror (McArdle)

Play run dates are November 15 – 16 & 30 – December 2. Auditions for Fires in the Mirror will be in Room 210 across the hall from the McArdle Theatre, Sept. 6 & 7, 7:00 PM. Play summary:  How can these things happen?  A child is hit by a car while playing on the sidewalk.  In retaliation, a young man is stabbed to death.  A community turns inward upon itself, neighbor set against neighbor.  Can an out of balance world be set right?  Anna Devere Smith interviewed members of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights Community and using their own words assembled a retelling of their solemn road from hate and violence to understanding.  At once poignant and colored by powerful feelings, Fires in the  Mirror is an unusual evening of theatre taking us to the heart of disaster and understanding and bringing us home safe.  For questions regarding Fires in the Mirror, please contact Roger Held, rheld@mtu.edu, 906-487-3283.