Category: Music

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.


Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Concert this Saturday

Michigan Tech Jazz Ensembles to Perform Saturday in Annual Keranen Memorial Concert – Press Release by Chris Clonts

The Michigan Tech Jazz Ensembles will be performing classic and original music on Saturday (March 27) at 7:30 p.m. in the annual Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Concert at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

The Workshop Brass Band will play original music written by the students as well as New Orleans-style songs. The R&D Big Band will perform an original tune composed by the students and a mix of music by Tito Puente, Sly Stone, Count Basie, and MTU Director of Jazz Studies Adam Meckler.  MTU’s premier Jazz Ensemble the Jazz Lab Band will perform works by Bob Brookmeyer, Thad Jones, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Charles Mingus and more.

Meckler said a variety of music is planned for the performances.

“The night features vocalist Jana Nyberg, New Orleans-Style Brass Band music, and classic big band swing and funk. Attendees will also hear some original music collectively composed by Tech students,” he said.

And for a change of pace, the student-led Video Game Music Ensemble will provide interlude music. Please join us for what is sure to be a great night of Jazz!

Limited socially distanced seats will be available for students and the general public. Patrons will be required to wear a facemask and fill out a symptom monitoring form in order to attend. Follow this link to fill out a ticket form the Michigan Tech Ticket Office to request tickets. 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 ($15 adults/$5 youth).  The performance also will be streamed live from the Rozsa Center website

The annual event pays tribute to the late Don Keranen, founder of the Michigan Tech Jazz Studies Program.


The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra presents: Orchestral Miniatures

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts are pleased to announce “Orchestral Miniatures,” a live-streamed concert of music performed by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra (KSO). 

The concert will originate from the the Rozsa Center at 7:30 pm on Saturday, February 27.  Due to current coronavirus restrictions, the concert will only be available virtually to the general public, by visiting mtu.edu/rozsa or the Rozsa Facebook page.

Joel Neves conducting a past performance of the KSO.

The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra presents a potpourri of sensational orchestral “miniatures” appropriate for a smaller, socially distanced orchestra. On the menu is delightful music from Italy, Russia, France, Hungary, and England.  “We are beyond excited to perform live orchestral music in the Keweenaw during the pandemic,” says music director, Joel Neves. “Our concert will feature a variety of sublime smaller works, including Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, Vaughan Williams’s Wasps Overture, and ‘March to the Scaffold’ from Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.” 

For the latest news and events, please join our Rozsa newsletter, check our website and Facebook page frequently, and stay informed as we announce new events each week.

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer that provides equal opportunity for all, including protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.


Jazz Cabaret: Backstage at the Rozsa

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts are pleased to announce “Jazz Cabaret: Backstage at the Rozsa,” two evenings of live-streamed concerts of Jazz music written for small combos. The concerts will originate from the stage in the Rozsa Center, and will be presented at 7:30 pm on Friday, February 12 and Saturday, February 13. Due to current coronavirus restrictions, the concert will only be available virtually, by visiting mtu.edu/rozsa or the Rozsa Facebook page.

The Jazz program at Michigan Tech has a long history spanning over 50 years, and is now led by Jazz trumpeter and Director of Jazz Studies, Adam Meckler. Meckler and Michigan Tech Instructor/saxophonist Patrick Booth have been meeting regularly with small student Jazz combos throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The intimate nature of the Jazz combo has allowed students to continue to make music safely, all while adhering to mask and social distancing guidelines.

Adam Jamming with Students

“To say that we are excited to be making music in person, in real time is an understatement. Over the last year, our students have sacrificed over and over again to remain healthy, follow protocol when asked, and keep MTU running smoothly. They’ve done great work this year with Jazz music that spans more than a century. We hope you will join us to witness the great work MTU Jazz students are doing!”

Adam Meckler

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer that provides equal opportunity for all, including protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. For the latest news and events, please join our Rozsa newsletter, check our website and Facebook page frequently, and stay informed as we announce new events each week.


Meyer Featured on Ears to the Earth Podcast

Libby Meyer (Visual and Performing Arts) was the focus of a recent episode of the Ears to the Earth podcast with Luke Helker. The interview focused primarily on the influence of nature and sense of place on Meyer’s music.

Meyer and Helker also discussed the Keweenaw Soundscape Project a collaborative project documenting the sounds of the Keweenaw and surrounding area. 

Listen to the podcast.


Superior Wind Symphony Presents “Reparations 2,” a Virtual Concert

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts present a virtual streamed video concert by the Superior Wind Symphony (SWS), titled “Reparations 2,” planned for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 5.

Led by Michigan Tech’s director of bands Mike Christianson (VPA), the title surrounds the theme of “little-known and under-recognized Black American composers in history.”

The concert will feature the Superior Wind Symphony in a streamed video concert of music by all African-American composers from the 1700’s to the present.

According to Christianson, “Our concert, the second in a series of four that will be performed along the theme of ‘Reparations’, will feature music, played in a somewhat socially distanced way by the members of the Superior Wind Symphony, that represents the music of black and other minority composers who have not received either the attention or recognition of white composers. This music will be from roughly 1700 to now, and will all be wonderful, whether you’ve heard of the composers or not. Concerts will be made available via online video streams, as they are ready.”

This concert is free and open to the public, and the “view/stream link” can be accessed on the Rozsa Center website.


KSO Presents a Special Streamed Halloween Concert Saturday: “Trolls and Cowboys”

The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra (KSO) under the direction of conductor Joel Neves, presents “Trolls and Cowboys” in a special streamed concert on Halloween, Saturday, October 31, at 7:30 pm. Spooky troll music is featured in Grieg’s fantasy horror masterpiece, “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. Aaron Copland’s film music for the 1949 Hollywood western, “The Red Pony”, celebrates cowboys, circuses, and the American frontier.  Access the video stream by clicking on the “View/Stream” button in the Trolls and Cowboys event listing, or for a more interactive experience, visit the Rozsa Facebook page and look for the Trolls and Cowboys Livestream at the start of the event.

This video concert is free and open to the public.

According to Neves, “I feel excited and blessed to make music again with this wonderful orchestra during the worldwide pandemic. Sublime music inspires the soul and binds communities together – it changes lives. Join us online for some beautiful music as the KSO approaches its historic 50th anniversary!”

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.


Music in the Mine Virtual Concert Friday

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, in partnership with the Quincy Mine Hoist Association, present a virtual streamed concert titled “Music in the Mine at 6 p.m. Friday (Oct. 9). 

Incredible acoustics, exciting performances and contemporary music come together live in the beautiful setting of the historic Quincy Mine Hoist building.

The concert features performances by Pat Booth on saxophone, Adam Meckler (VPA) on trumpet, Adam Hall on cello and the conScience Chamber Singers under the direction of Jared Anderson (VPA) premiering a new composition by Stephen Rush. 

Other works on the program are by Pat Booth, Sofia Gubaidulina, and John Cage. There will also be an interactive piece titled “Tuning Meditation,” by Paulina Oliveros. 

This concert is free and can be streamed live at mtu.edu/rozsa


And the Band Played On – ‘MTU Jazz: Quarantined’ Livestream Concert

Adam Meckler (Visual and Performing Arts), Michigan Tech’s director of Jazz Studies, and his students in three Michigan Tech jazz ensembles refused to let the quarantine stop the music.

Meckler’s students, from wherever the quarantine found them, teamed up via shared videos to undertake an experiment to blend music and dance, with similarly home-bound dance students at State University of New York-Brockport, for a one-of-a-kind dance and music collaboration.

That collaboration has allowed a hybrid event of sorts to take shape as the final product of their experimentation. A livestreamed concert, “MTU Jazz: Quarantined,” will take place on the Rozsa Center’s official Facebook page at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 13.

Meckler said the idea of a jazz/dance collaboration began to take shape when he and Greg Woodsbie, lead professional staff accompanist and music instructor at SUNY-Brockport, were undergraduates at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, nearly 20 years ago.

The ensembles involved in the online concert are the Workshop Big Band, R&D Big Band and Jazz Lab Band. Calling it a first-of-a-kind event at Michigan Tech, Meckler said the concert grew out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Michigan Tech was on spring break when the order came to stay at home and stay safe. It was at that moment that Jazz students at MTU knew that they’d have to get creative in order to continue to make music together,” he said. “Each of our three big bands decided to remotely record and video one song that we had been working on during the spring semester. Additionally, 11 members of MTU’s Jazz program teamed up with 11 dance students at SUNY-Brockport and collaborated on making music and dance videos.” (View one of the videos).

Students created music for these videos in a variety of ways, including solo improvisations, multilayered songs and electronic music. The results of these collaborations will be premiered during the “MTU Jazz: Quarantined” concert, along with each big band’s final recording/video project.

Meckler will present these videos live from the Rozsa Facebook Page, and will also be available for a live Q&A session during a short intermission.