Category Archives: Music

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.


Rozsa Calendars Now Available

A stack of Rozsa 2018-2019 season calendarsThe Rozsa Wall Calendars are here. Pick one up at the Rozsa Center or at any of the more than 120 Houghton and Hancock businesses who display and distribute them each year. For Michigan Tech faculty and staff, we make it easy for you to get your copies of the calendar. If you would like a calendar delivered directly to your campus mailbox, fill out this form. We will gladly send a calendar to you in inter-campus mail.

Featured this year are 12 Rozsa Presenting Series events, more than 33 Visual and Performing Arts events including music, theatre and visual arts events, and the ever-popular 41 North Film festival.  From comedy, to dance, to all-around spectacle, you will enjoy the variety and over-the-top fun of the 2018/19 Rozsa Visual and Performing Arts Season.

We have so much ballet this year. Two nights to experience the magic of the “Nutcracker” in November and December, then the world-famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in February. —Bethany Jones, Rozsa Center Marketing Manager

Season Ticket Packages are on still on sale, offering savings of 18-37 percent. The popular “Pick 6” Season Ticket Package has returned and is an even better value this year. We brought back both a “Pick 3” option, and the very popular “Family Pack” option that will help you bring the whole family to a big show at an affordable price. We hope there is a package that works for you. Thank you to all of our long-time season ticket holders, we’re holding your seats. For new season ticket buyers, welcome, we look forward to seeing you this season. Not interested in a Season Ticket Package? Single-ticket sales began last month.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Michigan Tech Ticketing Services at the Central Ticket Office (SDC), call 7-2073 or go online.


Olé at the Rozsa: Food, Music and Laughter on Saturday’s Menu

Three guitaristsGuitar playing and juggling require nimble fingers, and the audience will witness both when Parade of Nations headliner—the madcap international act Olé!—performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 15), at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

The performance caps off a day of festivities that begin when the 29th annual Parade of Nations steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday in Hancock. The flag-flying procession, including floats, horses, marchers in the traditional ceremonial clothing of their countries and the Huskies Pep Band, make its way across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge to Dee Stadium on the Houghton waterfront.

At the Dee, the Multicultural Festival features 11 international performances on the main stage and 22 food booths serving cuisine from around the world at affordable prices. Pony rides, a book sale and art projects from local youth add to the fun. Outdoor dining will again be available this year to ease traffic congestion, and a projection screen is designed to make viewing activities on the main stage more accessible. Trivia contests and prizes will be awarded throughout the day—the biggest of which is a drawing for a Chicago getaway package.

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news.


Olé! Tickets on Sale Now

Three guitaristsTickets are now on sale for Olé!, the headline act for the 2018 Parade of Nations. Sponsored by the Parade of Nations and the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, Olé! will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 on the Rozsa Center stage.

Olé! is a spectacular international comedy and music presentation featuring the exhilarating rhythms of flamenco, salsa, swing, blues and jazz, combined with hilarious slapstick comedy, full of surreal invention and fun. Paul Morocco, Guillermo de Endaya and Marcial Heredia perform together in a zany, unpredictable and spectacular show.

Tickets are on sale now, $15 for adults, $5 for children and no charge for students who have paid 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 night of the show.

Note: The Rozsa Box Office is only open two hours before performances.


Steve ‘N’ Seagulls in Concert Wednesday

Circle line logo Steve 'n' Seaguls

Take well-known rock and metal songs, play them in a bluegrass style and add a decidedly Finnish perspective and you have Steve ‘N’ Seagulls, one of the best Finnish bands to visit our area in decades.

Steve ‘N’ Seagulls bring their marvelous musical abilities, humor and unique mix of country and bluegrass at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 5) to the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

The five-man band from Jyväsjtkä, Finland gained notoriety through YouTube videos. Especially popular was their bluegrass rendition of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” Steve ‘N’ Seagulls have released two albums —  “Farm Machine” and “Brothers in Farms,” which feature covers such as Guns N Roses’ “November Rain,” AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” the Offspring’s “Self Esteem” and Metalica’s “Nothing Else Matters.”

Tickets for Steve ‘N’ Seagulls are available online at the Central Ticketing Office in the SDC, by calling 7-2073 or at the Rozsa Center box office starting two hours before the concert.


New Funding

Libby Meyer is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $3,800 public service grant from the Arts Midwest Touring Fund. Mary Jennings is the Co-PI on the project, “Minnesota Ballet Performance.”

The Minnesota Ballet offers productions ranging from full-scale broadway-style productions to small-scale, intimate repertoire dances. The Minnesota Ballet has a bountiful selection of full-length story ballets such as Coppélia, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Dracula, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and—of course—the holiday tradition of  The Nutcracker!