Category Archives: Music

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!



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.


Free Film Screening with Pianist Clay Hilman

WW1CC logo with Quincy Mine“World War I and the Copper Country” presents “The Big Parade” (1925) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 25) at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw. Musician and KC Bonkers co-owner Clay Hilman will accompany the silent film on piano. Admission is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Metro-Golden-Mayer’s “The Big Parade” was directed by King Vidor and based on the autobiographical novel “Plumes,” written by war veteran Laurence Stallings. “The Big Parade” enjoyed huge box-office success as the highest-grossing silent film at the time. The film held exceptionally long bookings at picture palaces with full musical orchestration such as the spectacular Grauman’s Egyptian theater in Hollywood and New York’s Astor on Broadway, where it took in $1.5 million alone during a ninety-six-week run. Reviews praised “The Big Parade” as the greatest of war dramas, and Vidor became known as one of Hollywood’s best directors.

Film synopsis:
James Apperson (John Gilbert), the idle son of a rich businessman, reluctantly joins the army when the U.S. enters World War I. He is sent to France, where he becomes friends with two working-class soldiers. While awaiting their orders to the front, James meets a young Frenchwoman, Melisande (Renée Adorée) and falls in love. Life is good for all of them until the soldiers move to the front where they experience the horrors of war, and James is forever a changed man.

Clay Hilman is a local pianist known for his improvisational style. He has played for 35 years, and started performing regularly for public engagements at the age of 12. His accompaniment will mimic the improvisational nature of live musical accompaniment in small picture houses in the 1910s.

This screening is part of “World War I in the Copper Country,” an extensive program of events and exhibits commemorating the centennial of the WWI Armistice, and is sponsored in part by the Michigan Humanities Council.


Club Rozsa Presents a Jazz Buffet

Student playing a saxThis weekend, you’re invited to Backstage Jazz or “Club Rozsa” featuring the Jazz Lab Band and the Research and Development (R&D) Big Band. The stage of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts will be transformed into a historic jazz club with a vintage atmosphere, complete with café tables and a cash bar. The concerts are a jazz buffet with something for everyone—swing, funk, blues, Latin, fusion and originals.

The pop-up jazz club on the Rozsa stage with an intimate atmosphere is the perfect setting for the R&D Big Band and the Jazz Lab Band. Under the baton of Tech’s Director of Bands Mike Christianson, they will loosen the reins on creativity and capture the flow of jazz.

Tickets for Backstage Jazz at the Rozsa 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 by phone at 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

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


KSO Alumni Concert Saturday

Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra in the lobby of the Rozsa
Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra in the lobby of the Rozsa

Former music directors and the current director of the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra (KSO) will share the podium as former orchestra members return for a historic KSO Alumni Concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 13) in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Past Directors Grover Wilkins III, Michael Griffith and Milton Olsson will join current director, Joel Neves.

Founded in 1970, the KSO—an ensemble comprised of Michigan Tech students, faculty, staff and community members—is the Upper Peninsula’s oldest orchestra.

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 Visual and Performing Arts at Michigan Tech offers three music minors and concentrations to students. The KSO presents four to five concerts per year—including choral-orchestral, opera, ballet and pops—in the Rozsa Center.

Past KSO Music Directors:

  • John Clark (founder): 1970-1972
  • Grover Wilkins III: 1972-1976
  • Milton Olsson: 1976-2009
  • Michael Griffith: 1979-1989
  • Jeffrey Bell-Hanson: 1989-2002
  • Alton Thompson: 2003-2006
  • Joel Neves: 2009-current

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 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Note: the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

For more details, contact Joel Neves or call 7-2859.


Rivers and Trails: A Landscape Music Concert Saturday

River in a forestThe Landscape Music Composers Network and Michigan Tech’s Department of Visual and Performing arts will present “Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails,” part of a nationwide series of concerts this fall commemorating the 50th Anniversaries of the National Trails System Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 4) in the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center.

The concert features Jon Ensminger (piano), Susan Byykkonen (flute, piccolo), Patrick Booth (clarinet), Andrew Shaud (cello), Lindy Wagner (violin) and Charles White (percussion).

The “Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails,” initiative has mobilized the network’s composers to compose 11 new works in this concert series. Five rivers—Sudbury, Klamath, Owyhee, American and Chattooga—and six trails—Juan Bautista de Anza Trail, New England Trail, North County Trail, Carson Trail, Oregon Trail and Florida Trail—will be highlighted.

For details, contact Libby Meyer (VPA), by phone, 7-3015, or email.


Superior Wind Symphony Presents Free Outdoor Concert

Superior Wind Symphony playing bassonsBring your lawn chairs, bring your blankets. The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and Department of Visual and Performing Arts presents a concert by the Superior Wind Symphony (SWS), titled “Europe, America and the World,” a celebration of the music of WWI era band leader from Harlem, James Reese Europe.

The SWS will perform a free outdoor concert at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28 on Walker Lawn.

If it rains, the concert will be held inside the McArdle Theatre, second floor of Walker Arts and Humanities Center.


Ensemble Recreates Mine Sound in Rozsa during Masterclass

Copper Mine, Keweenaw CountyIn an unusual turn of events, the University of Michigan Digital Music Ensemble (an experimental ensemble using electronic means to create sound art/concerts) is invited to perform in the Delaware Mine in Delaware, MI on October 7, 2018, which is located in the heart of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The ensemble will be presenting two concerts at the Delaware Mine, one at 6:00 and one at 7:30pm. Wine and Cheese reception above ground starting at 5:30pm. Space is limited to 40 people.

The group will rehearse in a “virtual mine” during September, and will write music during the Music in the Mines – Masterclass in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 10:30am to 12:00pm and then perform the arrangement in the Delaware mine and in Ann Arbor – emulating the ambiance of the mine in sight, sound, and smell.

Director, Stephen Rush, Professor of Music, University of Michigan, has visited the mine already, doing an impulse response which means capturing the acoustical behavior of the performance space/Delaware mine digitally – for reproduction in the Rozsa and in Ann Arbor. This means that during classes/rehearsals at U-M will “sound” like the mine. The students will also be reading two books, The History of the Delaware Mines and Life of Douglas Houghton by Steve Lehto. In these books, they will learn three major things: the economic and geological history of Michigan, the importance of specifically copper mining to the United States and Michigan, and a new aspect on the history of the University of Michigan.

As a Michigan native, I am deeply interested in the Copper industry (central to the founding of the state as well as the U-M) as well as the acoustical properties of the Mines that gave birth to the industry (and to the founding of the State).  Digital Sonic Analysis of unique spaces is still considered cutting edge technology, and unbeknownst to our students (and faculty) a subset of a standard musical program we now teach called “Logic©”, has an “impulse response” Plug-in, meaning that such digitization of interesting sonic spaces are including in the course materials of every student in our program (over 150 – majors and non-majors), but not necessarily taught.  Lecturer Jeremy Edwards and I have undertaken study of “impulse responses” as a preparation for this project – a new research area for me, and delightful. — Steven Rush

As discussed above, new approaches to both physical and historical context in music making will be delivered through this project. Through the support materials the students will have an expanded understanding of local/Michigan history as well as institutional history (University of Michigan).  This will be complemented by an exploration of Sonic appreciation of place, due to a new “angle” in the curriculum, a digital emulation of unique spaces. Every student will now be able to explore unique sonic spaces and emulate them digitally.

The students, as part of this project, will travel to the Upper Peninsula, live in a Yurt for three days, perform in an underground Copper Mine and collaborate with Michigan Tech faculty, students, and the Keweenaw community. Equally, students will be interacting with geologists, and historians. They will also learn about digital emulation of unique sonic spaces and a vastly expanded appreciation for the history of the state of Michigan and the University which they attend. The technology used by the class to emulate the mine in rehearsal will quickly transfer to the entire PAT (Performing Arts and Technology) community. It is a unique if non-complicated, technology. It will allow all students to explore the sound of the spaces they experience more fully.

Most students, down to the last one, have not even been in the Upper Peninsula and no student has performed in a mine before. They will also be living and cooking in the community for 4 days in a Yurt in a remote part of the Upper Peninsula.

The challenge is to address space and place. Rush notes “real listening is on the decline – due to headphone usage.  Actually listening to rivers, woods, trees, or large spaces, man-made or natural; cathedrals or caves is rare.  What is equally rare is the digitization of those spaces, history seems currently subject to opinion. The students will be asked to study the history, their own context, of our State and our University.”

During the masterclass, new music will be created specifically in reaction to the performing space. No such classes have been offered at the School of Music in the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor that dealt with the creation of new music for the space. There certainly has been location performances (UMMA/the Arb, etc.) to address this issue. Only the Dance Department has really explored this genre deeply. Site-specific performances are an extremely important genre in the Arts, even a sub-genre/category for NEA grants, etc. and new faculty lines that feature this as a specialty. This is literacy and experiential learning combined.

The concert in the Mine will recorded but the concert will be recreated in Ann Arbor with visual projections, the music that we performed in the mine (complete with digital emulation of the mine itself, as described above) and an attempt to create the musky smell of the mine.  The Michigan Muse (the alumni magazine of the school that reaches 11k alums) is also writing an article about the project.  In addition, the performance in Ann Arbor as well as at the mine will be shown/broadcast on YouTube.


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.