Category Archives: News


New Director of Jazz Studies

Visual and Performing Arts announces Adam Meckler as the new Assistant Professor of Music/Director of Jazz Studies.

Mr. Meckler is the third director of the Jazz program that has a 52-year history of Jazz in the Midwest. Originally founded in 1967 under the direction of Don Keranen and continued under the direction of Mike Irish from 1991-2018 the non-major Jazz program at Michigan Tech has thrived at a school largely known for its STEM curriculum.

Dr. Michael Christianson, Director of Bands at Michigan Tech says, “Adam Meckler is a top-class performer and composer, but we were really impressed with his teaching: a great mix of modern and old-school!”

Professor Emeritus Mike Irish also comments, “I am very excited about the hiring of Adam Meckler as the new Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan Tech. He is a young, energetic, and extremely talented teacher/performer who will build on our strong tradition and take it to new levels of achievement. His pedigree is outstanding. I am really eager to have him in town and await the great performances that will ensue!”

© Tim McG Photo & Video

Mr. Meckler expresses his excitement for the post,

“I am humbled and honored to join MTU’s esteemed Faculty, and work with the gifted and bright Visual and Performing Arts students at MTU. I am thrilled to carry the torch forward, striving for the high level of excellence established by my predecessors.”

Mr. Meckler holds degrees from Lawrence Conservatory and the University of Minnesota. A trumpet player, composer, and educator living in Minneapolis, MN, Meckler is an Edwards Instrument Co. Performing Artist and Clinician, and leads The Adam Meckler Orchestra (AMO), an 18-piece big band that plays his original compositions. The AMO’s debut album ‘When the Clouds Look Like This’ was listed among 2014’s Best Jazz Releases by iTunes.

Mr. Meckler will come from faculty positions in trumpet and Jazz at Macalester College, MCTC, and MacPhail Center for Music. He tours and records with The Hornheads (Prince), Youngblood Brass Band, and Nooky Jones, and plays regularly with a host of bands around the Twin Cities including Lulu’s Playground, The Jana Nyberg Group, Jack Brass Band, The Graydon Peterson Quartet, and The Pete Whitman X-Tet.

His latest release Magnificent Madness is available via Ropeadope Records, and on all streaming platforms May 3rd, 2019.


KSO to Perform ‘Rhapsody in Blue’

Violinists in KSOThe Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra presents George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 20) in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Popularized in Disney’s “Fantasia 2000,” “Rhapsody in Blue” will be performed along with the haunting ballet music to Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” and the angst-ridden “Chamber Symphony” of Schoenberg.

Joel Neves, conductor for the event, gives a preview, “This is our last concert of the year, so we saved the very best for last. Everyone loves ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ one of the great jazz-infused orchestra works of all time. ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ features local pianist extraordinaire, Jon Ensminger, who plays the soaring, swinging, sophisticated piano solo. Also on the program is sublime music by Verdi, Schubert, and Schoenberg, as well as Stravinsky’s magical ‘Firebird Suite,’ also featured in Fantasia. You don’t want to miss this fantastic program!”

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. The KSO presents 4-5 concerts per year—including choral-orchestral, opera, ballet, and pops—in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

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 487-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. The Rozsa Box Office opens two hours prior to performances.


‘Sunday in the Park with George’ Opens Today

Performers on stageThe Rozsa Center, Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Tech Theatre Company present the VPA 25th Anniversary Season theatre finale, “Sunday in the Park with George,” Thursday, Friday and Saturday (April 11-13) at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. each evening.

The musical features junior computer science major Jonah Schulte as George One and George Two. Katy Gula, a junior environmental engineering major, plays the role of Dot.

“Sunday in the Park with George” is a fully staged musical with live orchestra. Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s lyrical celebration of art, love and children merges image, music and performance to explore the depths of human understanding.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and staged around the world, “Sunday in the Park with George” explains the simple essence of life we can all understand.

When considering what to program as the musical theatre offering this year, ‘Sunday in the Park with George’ kept coming to my mind as a work that represents the department in special ways—a musical about two artists, separated through many years, but intimately connected by their desires to connect through art and to create something new.—Jared Anderson, Chair VPA

Director Roger Held (VPA), describes the play in terms of an intersection and relations between parents, children and art. “Steven Sondheim and James Lapine suggest that, in the end, life comes down to children and art. They mean this, I think, in the broadest sense. In ‘Sunday in the Park …’, you’ll meet two Georges who are artists trying to understand the nature of light in aesthetic experiences.”

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, through the date links (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) , in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the night of the show. The box office opens two hours prior to the performance.


Dean’s Showcase

Lisa GordilloFor the Deans’ Teaching Showcase, Dean David Hemmer has selected Lisa Gordillo, assistant professor in Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).

Gordillo was nominated by VPA Chair Jared Anderson, who applauded the many interdisciplinary collaborations she has initiated to publicly exhibit student art, especially around campus.

Anderson highlighted a wide variety of projects,” ranging from artistic design for windows that would reduce bird-window collisions to carving and casting sculptures based on traditional models in partnership with the Materials Science and Engineering Department.”

Gordillo teaches a wide variety of courses including traditional sculpture, contemporary sculpture, art + design, scenic art and illustration, and advanced sculpture. All of these make important contributions to the general education program, the visual art minor and the major in theater and entertainment technology.

Lisa leads a very collaborative environment where students are encouraged to explore creative solutions to problems while creating beautiful art. Her curriculum uses gallery b in the Rozsa galleries as an interactive classroom space where students create art right where it will be installed for public exhibition.—Jared Anderson

In addition, barriletes (patterned after traditional Guatemalan barriletes) made by students in the Traditional Sculpture course are currently displayed in the Rozsa Center lobby.

Gordillo’s highly hands-on approach with a focus on exhibition is very popular with students as she was named a finalist for the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award, her third time as a finalist in the last four years.

Gordillo also connects her teaching with a much broader artistic context in her role as director of the Rozsa Art Galleries.  Recently, the exhibition, Salon!, opened in Gallery A in the Rozsa Center. This show brought together work from more than 30 artists and writers from around the world. Gordillo worked with student painters to transform the gallery into a space that was inspired by the salons of the late 19th century.

Dean Hemmer summarizes Gordillo’s impact by saying,  “I am grateful to have colleagues like Lisa. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting two magnificent shows that she curated in the Rosza Art Gallery. For the many students involved in putting these together, learning extends far beyond the classroom. Faculty like Lisa enliven Tech every day.”

Gordillo will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.


Gordillo Captures Prize at Arts Festival

Lisa GordilloLisa Gordillo (VPA) received an award for “Best Three-Dimensional Work,” for her piece “Las Cordinada/The Coordinates,” as part of the 2019 North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival.

The piece, which was first developed on Michigan Tech’s campus as part of Gordillo’s 2017 Rozsa Gallery exhibit, “ChickenBus,” travelled through North Dakota during the human rights festival this spring. Gordillo’s sculpture commemorates 26 of the 440 Mayan villages that were destroyed during Guatemala’s 30-year genocide, which was partially funded by the United States.

Gordillo worked with her collaborator and partner Hugo Gordillo to develop the piece, which is composed of plaster casts of human hands, and a wall text that lists the villages destroyed and the actions taken to destroy them. The piece will be on display through March at the High Plains Fair Housing Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.



Artist Lisa Gordillo Receives ND Human Rights Festival Award

Assistant Professor Lisa Gordillo, Visual and Performing Arts, received an award for “Best Three-Dimensional Work” for her work of art, “Las Cordinadas/The Coordinates,” as part of the 2019 North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival. The work of art, which was first developed on Michigan Tech’s campus as part of Gordillo’s 2017 Rozsa Gallery exhibit, ChickenBus, traveled through North Dakota during the human rights festival this spring.
Gordillo’s sculpture commemorates 26 of the 440 Mayan villages that were destroyed during Guatemala’s 30-year genocide, which was partially funded by the United States. Gordillo worked with her collaborator and partner Hugo Gordillo to develop the piece, which is composed of plaster casts of human hands, and a wall text that lists the villages destroyed and the actions taken to destroy them. The piece will be on display through March in Grand Forks, ND at the High Plains Fair Housing Center.

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


Meditation Circuit: Join Anne Beffel for an Open Studios Event Today

Photo by Nat Seymour

Professor and public artist Anne Beffel (VPA) will hold an open studio event from 6 to 8 p.m. today (Nov. 28) in the Studio for Here and Now in the basement of Wadsworth Hall (G04W), across from WMTU.

At a 6:45 p.m. presentation, Beffel will discuss a public art and meditation walk in an urban forest she and the City Meditation Crew installed in Shoreline, Washington.

Beffel says, “Meditation Circuit is a series of meditation stations along a pathway marked by public art work. Each station offers a mindfulness-oriented activity intended to support well-being. Explore: listening; walking; even using cell phones as tools for meditating on colors in an urban forest. Meditation Circuits demonstrate the power of meditation and the value of public art.”

Meditation Circuit is inspired in part by the City Meditation Crew project, “Many Colors of Green,” in fall 2017 at Hamlin Park in which community members walked meditatively and contemplated their park using their cell phones as tools for attentiveness.

More information is available online.