Category Archives: Music

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


New Music for a New Year

“New Music for a New Year: Music from the North Woods,” a festival of three unique concerts will take January 19th and 20th. The event is presented by the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Libby Meyer (VPA) director of the Music Composition Program.

The festival is a series of concerts of contemporary music written by composers either from or who have lived in the Upper Peninsula. The concerts feature Houghton native Elena Ruehr, composer and award-winning faculty member at MIT.

Elena Ruehr

There will be a Master Class presented by Ruehr at 3 p.m. January 19th in the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center, featuring a recital of music by student composers.

The festival continues that evening with an intimate evening “Backstage” performance at 7:30 PM in the Rozsa Center, featuring the music of Evan Premo, Libby Meyer, Thomas LaVoy, Abbie Burt Betinis, Carrie Biolo,  Patrick Booth, Christopher Plummer and featuring Elena Ruehr’s Third String Quartet.

The final concert will take place at 3 p.m. January 20th in the McArdle Theatre with music by Griffin Candey, Josh Loar, Sarah Rimkus, Milton Olsson, Stephen Rush and featuring the piece “Lucy” by Ruehr.

The Upper Peninsula has produced and inspired many talented composers and performers. “New Music for a New Year” will feature a number of these composers whose work is as diverse and beautiful as the landscape that inspired them.

Ruehr’s recent two-CD release was selected as Gramophone Critic’s Choice in December. Gramophone, the world’s leading classical music publication, described Reuhr as “A new, living master of the quartet medium.”

The concert will feature the Superior String Alliance String Quartet, ConScience Chamber Singers, and two works by Ruehr performed by her Third String Quartet (Saturday) and “Lucy” (January 20th) a work which will feature ConcertCue, a web application developed at MIT for streaming synchronized program notes during a live musical performance.

Meyer’s interest in natural soundscapes, conservation of special places and curiosity about the relationship between the arts and the natural world fuel her work. She is a co-founder of the Keweenaw Soundscape Project established to aurally document the Keweenaw region and surrounding lands for ecological, social and artistic value, has served as an Artist in Residence at Isle Royale National Park and has written a number of compositions inspired by the landscape.

Note the Saturday matinee concert is free. Tickets for the Saturday evening and Sunday New Music for a New Year festival concerts are on sale now. Tickets are $15 General Admission, $5 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

Tickets are available by phone at 487-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the SDC or at door before the performance. The box office opens approximately one hour prior to performances.


Ken Steiner Memorial Benefit Concert

When longtime local resident Ken Steiner passed away suddenly two years ago, family, friends, and the entire community came together for a memorial to celebrate all the lives he touched through his decades of good work to make the Keweenaw, and the world, a better place. From a long list of friends playing the music to the majority of area restaurants where he worked providing food, there was an overwhelming outpouring of love, support and good will. And, above all a strong sense that the work Ken championed, the positive energy and creative spirit he inspired, would continue, carried forward by those who knew and loved him.

This year, the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, Michigan Tech’s Dining Services, the Visual and Performing Arts Department, and National Honorary Musical Fraternity Mu Beta Psi, want to extend that spirit and good will, by hosting the second annual benefit in Ken’s honor for his favorite charity: Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, featuring good food, a cash bar, and once again a host of Ken’s friends and former band mates making the music, on Friday, January 11 at 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm, in the Rozsa Center Lobby. Ticket prices are in a range of “donation levels,” so that everyone who attends can support the fundraiser at a level they choose.

Musicians featured:

  • Tom Katalin at 7:00 PM
  • Uncle Pete’s All Star BBQ Blues Band at 8:15 PM
  • The Mike Christianson Quartet at 9:30 PM

Ticket prices are: $10/$20/$30/donation of your choice. 100% of ticket sales will be donated in Ken’s name to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

Tickets are available online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the SDC, by phone at 7-2073 or at the Rozsa Center box office the night of the concert.


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.