Category: Michigan Tech News

Denali: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness

by Bethany Jones, Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts

2017 Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival’s Composing in the Wilderness Program composers.

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Rozsa Center are pleased to announce “Denali: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness,” an exciting collaboration culminating in both a Rozsa Gallery A-Space exhibit and a virtual event

The project features composers and artists, their music, and the art inspired by it. “Denali: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness,” exists in the confluence of two languages — music and visual art.

It features eighteen works of art made in response to original chamber music inspired by composers’ experiences in Denali National Park, in central Alaska. The in-person gallery experience opens in the Rozsa Gallery A-Space on Friday (Jan. 22), and both the live and virtual events will be available through Saturday, April 17.

Gallery hours are:

  • M-F: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. 1:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Saturdays: 1 – 8 p.m.

The Denali virtual event can be streamed anytime from Jan. 22 to April 17 by visiting the Rozsa website.

QR codes, posted with each work of art throughout the gallery exhibit, provide links to the related pieces of music by scanning with a QR code reader on a smartphone.

Musical scores, program notes, artist statements, and biographies of all project participants will be available both inside the gallery exhibit and digitally as part of the virtual experience.

According to project leaders Terri Frew (VPA) and Libby Meyer, (VPA), “What do you get when you set nine composers loose in Denali National Park? You get nine great pieces of music. Give this music to artists as inspiration and you get eighteen great pieces of art!”

In conjunction with the A-Space Gallery exhibit, participants of Composing in the Wilderness, a shared wilderness experience for adventurous composers and members of the Elements Artist Group, will discuss the collaboration, share performances of the music and images of artwork in virtual music and art experience, featuring a series of videos with each composer, their music and artwork related to each piece of original music.

The Elements Artist Group comprises six artists anchored in Alaska including Charlotte Bird, Susan Campbell, Nancy Hausle-Johnson, Mary Bee Kaufman, Margo Klass and Ree Nancarrow.

The nine composers from the 2017 Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival’s Composing in the Wilderness Program include Jesse Budel, Christian Dubeau, Corinna Hogan, Aaron Keyt, Brent Lawrence, Libby Meyer, Christina Rusnak, Dawn Sonntag and Jennifer Wright.

The idea for the project was originally sparked by a painting Elements artist Mary Bee Kaufman rendered while listening to music written by Christina Rusnak in 2012. Their successful collaboration resonated with other Elements artists who were eager to explore a new challenge – making visual art in response to music inspired by a place they all love, Denali National Park.

Stephen Lias, Composing in the Wilderness director, shared the proposal with his Composing in the Wilderness musicians and they enthusiastically said, “Yes.”

In 2017, Lias led nine experienced composers into the backcountry of Denali National Park. They composed original chamber music inspired by their experiences in the wilderness and then shared recordings of their compositions, along with their scores, ideas, and inspiration with the Elements artists. Elements artists created visual responses to the music, generating eighteen works of art – two responses to each of the nine musical compositions. Artists worked in a variety of media including fiber art, ceramic tiles, painting, poetry, and artist books. Denali: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness is evidence of the surprising results that emerge when artists collaborate.

The generous support of a Community Arts Development Grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts helped fund the project along with sponsorship by the National Park Service, Alaska Geographic, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, and Composers in the Wilderness.


Public Performances and Receptions at the Rozsa and McArdle Cancelled

As you are likely aware, Michigan Tech is carefully following guidance from the recent Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order issued by Governor Whitmer.  Campus is closed to the public, except for critical services, and faculty and staff are working from home.  We were sad that the current COVID-19 situation necessitated cancelling or postponing the rest of our arts season at Michigan Tech, but we are hopeful that measures that we are taking now will make a big difference in keeping our community safe and healthy.
With the cancellation of the remainder of the season we will provide three options for all single tickets and pro-rated package tickets purchased to the following Rozsa/VPA events that were cancelled or postponed.  These include:

Option #1 Contact the SDC Ticket Office at tickets@mtu.edu for a refund of your concert tickets.  Season Subscriptions, Pick-6, and Pick-3 packages will be pro-rated.

Option #2 Tickets may be traded for an equivalent performance in the 2020-21 Season.  Some Presenting Series Events have already been rescheduled for next season, including:  Manual Cinema (Sept. 4, 2020), Audiopharmacy (March 19, 2021), and Vieux Farka Touré (March 20, 2021).  Tickets Visual and Performing Arts Department student concerts (Tech Theatre, KSO, Choirs, Bands, Jazz) can be redeemed for a performance in the 2020-21 season by contacting tickets@mtu.edu.

Option #3 Unrefunded or untraded tickets refunds may be donated to the Friends of the Rozsa Fund.  This gift will be tax-deductible and will be acknowledged by the Michigan Tech Fund.  This can also be done by contacting tickets@mtu.edu.

We appreciate your patronage over this past season and look forward to announcing our 2020-21 season.  Details about next season will come soon.  Please visit the Rozsa website for more information, www.mtu.edu/rozsa


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


3rd Annual GeekU.P. Mini- “Comic-Con” Charity Event

GeekU.P. LogoJoin us for a fun-filled geektastic charity event!  GeekU.P. is a mini-con charity event celebrating geek culture offering an artists’ alley, vendors, cosplay contest, celebrity Q&A’s, autograph sessions, and more!

To be held September 14th at the Michigan Tech Memorial Union Ballroom in Houghton, MI. from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Tickets are available at Black Ice Comics, 403 Lakeshore Drive in Houghton or at the door. $10 for adults, $5 kids 14 and under, and $5 for students with ID.

The 2019 charity recipient is ‘Don’t Do It Yourself’ (D.D.I.Y) which serves as an emergency funding source for the people of Houghton and Keweenaw counties that are facing a financial hardship due to a medical crisis. For more information regarding DDIY, please visit ddiyup.org.

With the help of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and local businesses, GeekU.P. has an exciting celebrity guest line-up this year:

Dean HaglundActor/artist Dean Haglund is known the world over as “Langly”, one of The Lone Gunmen, a role he played for nine seasons on the hit Fox TV series The X-Files and its spin-off series, The Lone Gunmen. Other television credits include Bones, V.I.P., Sliders, Home Improvement, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and The Commish. In addition, Dean is a long-time improvisational comedian having performed with the Groundlings and Second City. He is a regular performer at the Improv in Los Angeles.

 

 

Jerry DeCaireMarvel artist, Jerry DeCaire, is one of the original artists for the comic book character Deadpool and is known for his illustrations in Thor, Wolverine, X-Men, and Hawkeye. He will also reveal his forthcoming comic, “Which-When-Man”, to be released in 2020. Jerry will do a real-time demonstration of his drawing techniques in a live performance.

 

 

 

Patricia SummersettPatricia Summersett is known for providing voice and motion capture for several video games, most notably the voice of Princess Zelda in the video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (worldwide 2017 Game of the Year) but also Rainbow Six: Siege, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and the Assassin’s Creed Franchise. Patricia was raised in L’anse, MI, and graduated from Houghton High School before pursuing her acting career in LA and Montreal.

 

All three celebrities will take part in Q & A sessions and autograph signings for attendees. Northbound Saga, an independent film company, is going to be with us and will be bringing actors, awesome props from their production, and some exclusive footage to share during a Q&A session.

We’re very excited about what we have in store for GeekU.P. this year, we want to welcome folks of all ages, especially our students, to Geek.U.P. to come have a great time. Even if it’s been years since you read a comic, or you’ve never played a video game, we can’t wait to share the fun, have folks meet some celebrities and help us raise money for DDIY! —Shana Porteen, GeekU.P. co-founder and owner of Black Ice Comics

I’m thrilled to celebrate local arts and culture in the community I grew up in! I certainly hope to inspire and provide insight for budding artists who may be thinking of a related career path, Shana and I dreamed up this event two years ago and I’m amazed how the festival has evolved so considerably. I’m excited to imagine how it may grow and expand in years to come!Patricia Summersett, GeekU.P. co-founder and guest celebrity

More information and the developing schedule can be found at our website www.geekup906.com.

Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer.


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