Category: Music

Weekly Trumpet Hang This Morning

Join MTU’s Director of Jazz Studies Adam Meckler for his weekly Michigan Tech Trumpet Hang from 10 to 11 a.m. today (May 27). Each Wednesday’s virtual program will be different and will cover a variety of subjects such as warming up, building strength, playing both classical and jazz repertoire, how to navigate jazz chord changes, how to use the metronome, and more.

Attendees will be encouraged to play along, and even perform for the group. The material will be provided either by PDF or by ear. Request the Zoom link by emailing abmeckle@mtu.edu.


Student Jazz Award Winners Announced

Director of Jazz Studies, Adam Meckler, has announced this year’s student recipients for the Don Keranen Endowed Scholarship Awards.

This fund provides cash awards to students for Outstanding Jazz Musician and Most Improved Jazz Musician. Individuals who participate in the Jazz Lab Band, the Research and Development Big Band, and the Workshop Big Band are eligible.

Most Improved was awarded to Steven Turnbull, while the Outstanding Jazz Musician was awarded to two students – Alek Ertman and Ryan Briggs.

These awards were slated to be announced during the Don Keranan Memorial Jazz Concert on March 20th, but was cancelled.

Jazz Award winner Steven Turnbull
Steven Turnbull is a first year student pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and a minor in Technical Theatre. As a trumpet player, he loves listening to and playing in all kinds of bands, especially jazz. Although he thinks mathematically, he is able to express his artistic side through music. He takes his education seriously and loves to learn new things from any kind of subject.
Alek Ertman is a third year student at Michigan Tech. He is an Electrical Engineering major with a focus in Automation and Controls. In addition to his studies, Alek also plays bass in the top jazz ensemble, and top jazz combo. Some of his musical influences include Stuart Zender, Paul Chambers, and Charlie Haden.
Ryan Briggs jazz award winner
Ryan Briggs is a first year Computer Engineering
student also pursuing minors in Mathematics and Music Composition. Here at Tech, Ryan is the Bassist for the R&D Jazz Band, a Huskies Pep Band ‘Rumpet, and co-founder and bassist of a student run Video Game Music Jazz Ensemble. While he enjoys studying engineering, his other passion lies in music. He hopes to one day compose music professionally on the side. 


Isolation, Collaboration and All That Jazz

Despite the challenges of social distancing and virtual instruction, the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired some creative collaborations that span not only academic disciplines, but hundreds of miles. Adam Meckler (VPA), Michigan Tech’s director of jazz studies, recently connected with a former college classmate and both brought along students for the collaboration.

Adam Meckler

The project is a video/audio exchange between Meckler’s jazz students at Michigan Tech and students from the Department of Dance at the State University of New York-Brockport. Meckler’s partner at SUNY-Brockport is Greg Woodsbie, lead professional staff accompanist and music instructor. Meckler said the idea of a jazz/dance collaboration began to take shape when he and Woodsbie were undergraduates at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, nearly 15 years ago.

“We played in many bands together over the years, but the first was a 12-piece salsa band when we were students at Lawrence,” Meckler said. While the salsa band spent many hours rehearsing, they didn’t “get it” until their first gig. “There were dancers there. It was then that we recognized how the dancers elevated the music and likewise how the music elevated the dancers.”

It is this mutual elevation that Meckler and Woodsbie’s students are exploring, even though they are more than 800 miles apart. “Each Tech student is paired with a dancer,” Meckler explained. “Our jazz students will send over 30 seconds of recorded music and the dancers will send over 30 seconds of dance.”

The guidelines are simple — there aren’t any. “The music can be anything the students can dream up and execute,” he said. “Some will improvise on a trumpet, trombone or saxophone while some might record multiple layers and instruments.” The same goes for the dancers — their contribution can be virtually anything.

Once the students exchange material, the fun begins. “The musician will record music over the dance video and the dancer will do some kind of choreography to the music sent in the exchange,” Meckler said. Following a dialogue to discuss what worked and what didn’t, the students will vote on their favorite collaborations, with the winners forming a single video to be released on social media.

Meckler said he and Woodsbie feel the collaboration goes to the heart of the two art forms. “Historically, music and dance are not two separate art forms, but one. We are well-served to explore these folkloric roots, in turn integrating art into our lives and culture.”

At the same time, it’s also a fun and healthy form of symbiosis — musicians and dancers complementing each other. “The dialogue between music and dance elevates both parties,” he said. “Dancers deepen the practice that is crucial to artists — developing an intimate relationship with your materials. Musicians are reminded of the body and that music ultimately comes from movement.”

Meckler, Woodsbie and their students are proving that creativity and art can flourish, even in the time of social distancing. As Meckler puts it, “The dialogue between the dancer and the musician will teach both parties the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary collaboration. The participants will observe these benefits and challenges and will discuss perceived successes and failures in dialogue throughout this process.”


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


Tech Choirs to Perform ‘Music for a Sacred Space’ Sunday

Singers in a choir during a performance

The choirs of Michigan Tech will perform a joint concert entitled, “Music for a Sacred Space,” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (March 1), at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Linden. 

The concert has been a tradition for the choirs for a number of years.  The Michigan Tech Concert Choir will sing repertoire from the German literature by Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn. They will also perform “Behold! I Build An House” by Lukas Foss, “Otche Nash” by Nikolai Golovanov, as well as two American folk hymns.  The Michigan Tech Chamber Singers, conScience, will perform both traditional and contemporary anthems, including music from Renaissance Italy as well as selections from England, Canada and the United States.

“This concert provides our singers and the audience with an opportunity to experience sacred choral music in a space that is appropriate for the genre, together with a stunning acoustic that matches other sacred spaces where the music may have been first heard. The choirs look forward to this concert each year,” said Jared Anderson, conductor of both choirs.

The concert is open to the public. A free-will offering will be collected with all proceeds from the concert to benefit the local chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


Meckler to Headline Two Major Jazz Festivals

Adam Meckler

Adam Meckler (VPA) has been tapped to headline two big national jazz festivals in the next few days. First, Meckler will head to Coe College, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the largest annual jazz festival in Iowa, the Coe College Jazz Summit today (Feb. 27) through Saturday (Feb. 29).

More than 90 high school bands participate, and Meckler will coach the high school bands for the first few days of the festival. He will then rehearse and perform as the featured guest artist with the Coe College Jazz Ensemble, doing a mix of his original compositions and other big band music for the big Grand Finale Concert at 7 p.m. (CST) Saturday in Marquis Hall on the Coe College campus.

Then on Monday (March 2), Meckler will travel to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for Augustana College’s 46th annual Jazz on the Upper Great Plains Festival, set for Monday and Tuesday in Augustana’s Hamre Recital Hall.

The festival features Meckler and host of PBS’s Sound Field, Arthur “L.A.” Buckner. Buckner is one of the top drummers and educators in Minneapolis and is gaining national recognition for his drumming and his work with PBS. Interestingly, Buckner is a former student of Meckler’s at McNally Smith College of Music, his previous teaching position.

Buckner and Meckler will perform 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.

Meckler’s compositions being performed are: “Sparkly Eyes” (which Lab Band will perform on the Don Keranen Jazz Concert at the Rozsa Center on March 20) “Tao of Heavy D” (from his 2019 album on Ropeadope Records, “Magnificent Madness”), “Magnificent Madness” (title track from same album) “Jennsong” (from the same album) “Open Your Eyes” (from Meckler’s critically acclaimed 2014 release “When The Clouds Look Like This”) and “Once Upon a Sunrise” (which the Research & Development Band will perform at its March 20 concert).

For more information about both festivals, concert dates, and tickets, please visit their websites: 


KSO to Perform Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Tomorrow

Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra in the lobby of the Rozsa

The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, its director Joel Neves, and special guest conductor Xun Sun bring you a captivating evening of orchestral masterworks, including Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances” and Tchaikovsky’s thrilling “Symphony No. 4.”  The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 29) in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Since 2001, Xun Sun has been director of Orchestral Activities at Southern Utah University where he conducts the University Symphony Orchestra and String Ensemble and teaches courses in both conducting and playing music. He has conducted the Henan Symphony Orchestra, Anhui Symphony, Hunan Symphony, Hubey Symphony Orchestra, and the world-renowned China Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Sun comes from Taiyuan, China, where he began showing his musical talents at a very young age. When he was 11, he began training at the Wuhan Conservatory of Music, an intensive education that led him to further studies in the United States. He earned his Master’s degrees in Instrumental Conducting and Violin Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his Doctoral degree in Education from Teacher’s College in Columbia University. He continues to play, conduct, and educate at Southern Utah University today.

Neves and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra have been awing the Midwest with music ranging between orchestral masterworks, choral-orchestral, music theatre, ballet, opera, and pops since its founding in 1971. It is made up of Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff, and community members, and is one of five symphony orchestras around Lake Superior.

Tickets are $19 for adults, $6 for children, or no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To buy your tickets, call (906) 487-2073, go online, or in person at the Central Ticketing Office or Rozsa Box Office.

Please note: The Rozsa Box Office is only open two hours prior to performances.


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


Fiesta! Comes to the Rozsa

Michigan Tech’s Rozsa Center and Department of Visual and Performing Arts are pleased to present a family friendly event of music, storytelling, puppetry, and more. The Superior Wind Symphony presents a concert of original Latin American music by celebrated Guatemalan composer Raúl López Colibrí. The compositions are arranged by Director of Bands Mike Christianson with children’s choir direction by Amanda Plummer.

The show doesn’t stop there—Local poet, formerly of Guatemala, Hugo Gordillo will present his collection of children’s poetry on which the music was based, in a pre-concert party hosted by Hugo Gordillo and Christ Alquist, with crafts, storytelling, and more fun, in the Rozsa lobby, making this truly an event for the whole family.

Poems and children’s stories will be read in both Spanish and English, and the entire evening will be the culmination of work by poets, Spanish language professors, theatre and fine art professors, and local and Guatemalan poets, writers, artists, musicians, and students.

The pre-concert “fiesta party” begins at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, February 15, and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a live shadow-puppet performance during the concert presented by Patricia Helsel.

Colibrí is a Guatemalan musician, composer, puppetry artist, and music educator. He has produced six albums of children’s music, a children’s radio theatre, and several musical books for children. He often hosts workshops on creativity, music, puppetry, and theatre to share his skills with the world. He hopes to extend this collaboration with Michigan Tech artists for a long time. The music he composed for Fiesta! will also be performed by the Guatemalan Symphony Orchestra in Guatemala City this and next year. The concert will be accessible via live-streaming, and a concert CD will be created to mark the cultural exchange.

Hugo Gordillo is a prolific poet and the author of Fiesta!, a children’s poetry collection and the inspiration for this musical event. First published in 2013, Gordillo wrote the collection while sitting in the parks of Guatemala City, listening to children playing games and singing songs. The book includes a story about the friendship between a drum and a flute; birds who play musical instruments; magical flowers; and a monkey who is always playing tricks. He is an award-winning journalist and the founder of the PEN Writers’ Center of Guatemala, an organization for supporting journalists, writers, and editors.

Helsel, who is developing puppets for the event, hosted a summer puppetry workshop at the Copper Country Community Arts Center to prepare for it. Participants young and old worked with her to create shadow puppets, dancing flowers, and “el torito del fuego,” (a “little bull of fire”). The bull is part of many Guatemalan celebrations and will make an appearance in the concert. VPA faculty member Lisa Gordillo and her Contemporary Sculpture students helped to develop the concert bull puppet.

Tickets are on sale now: $13 for adults and $5 for youth, or no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To buy your tickets, call (906) 487-2073, visit mtu.edu/rozsa, or in person at the Central Ticketing Office. Tickets are also available the night of the show at the Rozsa Box Office two hours prior to performances.


Backstage Jazz Cabaret Friday and Saturday

Michigan Tech’s newest director of Jazz Studies, Adam Meckler, presents another backstage jazz experience at the Rosza Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, January 24/25. Student jazz combos and a few guest artists will play pieces from across the genre’s history, dipping into traditional jazz, hard bop, funk and more. The Rozsa’s main stage will be converted into a classic jazz club complete with café tables and refreshments. The club atmosphere will help the bands guide you through this colorful history and flex their creative muscles, telling the story of the art as it has evolved through time.

“Our four Jazz combos will perform music by artists such as Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Thundercat, Louis Cole, Roy Hargrove, Snarky Puppy and more. We will transform the stage into a classic jazz club atmosphere. Enjoy some drinks and popcorn while you soak it all in!” – Adam Meckler

This will be the first home show for the Jazz Band after they toured Chicago. In early January, the Michigan Tech Jazz Lab Band went on a road trip down to Chicago to play with the Adam Meckler Orchestra, one of Meckler’s other many projects, at the fast-growing Chicago performance and art space, the Fulton Street Collective. The Lab Band opened the first set for the orchestra, which plays Meckler’s own original compositions. The new director says the experience was a paradigm shift for the band; he believes the group is now reaching a new level of music since experiencing the big city jazz scene.

Meckler joined the Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts faculty as the Director of Jazz Studies in the fall of 2019 after a decade-long career playing, writing, and teaching music out of Minneapolis. The Adam Meckler Orchestra’s debut album was listed on 2014’s Best Jazz Releases by iTunes. As a freelance trumpeter, he has worked with artists like The Temptations, The Four Tops, Cory Wong of Vulfpek, and other big names. 

Tickets are on sale now: $15 for adults and $5 for youth, or no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To buy your tickets, call 906-487-2073, go online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the SDC or go to the Rozsa Center box office within two hours prior to the performances. 

In the News: Michigan Tech to hold Jazz Cabaret concerts