Category: News

Marimba Concert and Poetry Night

A background of marimba and malletsWhat is a Marimba? Think of a very large wooden xylophone, the national instrument of Guatemala.

The Rozsa Center and Department of Visual and Performing Arts presents Guatemalan writer Hugo Gordillo, and collaborator Zach l’Italian, who will read selections of Gordillo’s new poems (in Spanish and English) in a “Marimba Concert and Poetry Night” at 6 p.m. Thursday (March 23) in the Rozsa lobby.

This event was developed in collaboration with Michigan Tech music students and conducted by Mike Christiansen, Michigan Tech’s Director of Bands. The Marimba Concert and Poetry event are free and all are welcome.

The Michigan Tech Marimbist Band will play several marimba selections, arranged by Christianson. This event is the closing reception for “ChickenBus: a U.S. Guatemalan Experience,” a Rozsa gallery exhibit by Lisa Gordillo.

Several poems in Hugo Gordillo’s collection inspired the art in this exhibit. The exhibit will be open before and after the concert.


“Sexual Perversity in Chicago” Opens Thursday

5e1a85bec4d270eac4578defc44bb93d63d6dda2 (1)The Michigan Tech Theatre Company presents David Mamet’s award winning play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.”

The play, which explores the nature of sexual relationships, will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with additional performances Feb. 23-25 in the McArdle Theatre on the second floor of the Walker Fine Arts and Humanities Center. Performance time is 7:30 p.m. each evening.

First produced in 1974, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” continues to speak to generations of young adults in the unyielding clutches of sexual inelegance.

According to the New York Times, the play “takes funny and painful digs at the fantasies and distances of the contemporary sexual game.”

It has twice been adapted to film, “About Last Night … ” (1986) starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore and “About Last Night” (2014) with Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.

The Tech Theatre production of “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” is under the direction of Roger Held. Tickets are $13 for adults, $5 for youth and no cost for Michigan Tech Students with the Experience Tech Fee.

Tickets are available online, at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex and by phone, 7-2073.


Jazz Musicians on tour!

Picture1From Bruce Seely, Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts:

Every January, jazz musicians from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts visit schools around the upper Midwest to carry the word about the importance of music, while at the same time giving many people another important reason to know about Michigan Tech. Mike Irish, director of the jazz programs and the key inspiration to the jazz musicians here, has coordinated the January tours for many, many years. This 2017 tour spanned January 3-6 and included concerts at Munising, Newberry, Roscommon, the State Theater in Bay City, Bay City Central and Bay City Western high schools, and Harrison. Just for good measure, the Jaztec group played an evening gig in a restaurant in Bay City.

I have had several students ask about the programs that your school has to offer outside of music clubs since this event.

The music directors and principals of the schools where our students play often tell me they were blown away by these performances. Predictably, they are impressed by the quality of music from performers not pursuing music degrees. Mike has this special knack for cultivating and guiding student musicians for whom jazz becomes a passion. Putting this outcome on display helps the local music educators make the case for the value of music in small and sometimes cash-strapped schools. The high school students see the passion and commitment of jazz musicians drawn from every major on Tech’s campus, conveying the powerful message that it is possible to be both a musician AND a great student in the demanding fields of study offered at MTU. Michigan Tech appears in an amazingly good light by showing our commitment to educate the whole person and our effort to integrate all areas of knowledge and learning.

The director of bands at Harrison captured the full impact of these visits. He told me he was “delighted at how excited [Tech’s students] were to perform, being that our show was the last one on their tour and it was awfully early in the morning! What a special group of musicians they all are to perform so amazingly well before 9:00am! …The entire group stayed for awhile after the performance to talk to our band students, who were so very grateful for the time with them. They answered all of the students’ questions and were very patient with students who have never been enrolled in a music course. Not one performer rushed to pack up their materials. They showed our students so much respect by carving out a great deal of time to educate them. I have had several students ask about the programs that your school has to offer outside of music clubs since this event…. Please keep these types of programs a possibility for our area high school students! Your school has gained many fans through this wonderful experience that you have generously provided to us.”

For a long time we have known that students are Tech’s best ambassadors, but the jazz players are the best. Their dedication is outstanding, as shown by their schedule on just the first day. They departed the SDC at 6:30AM, played a concert in Munising at 10:00, another at Newberry that afternoon, and then rode the bus south of the bridge to their overnight stay near Roscommon. It certainly helps to be young and energetic! And that energy explains why we these tours will continue. But we should remember that the players gain as much from the visit as their audiences. So we owe the students and Mike a big thanks for their continued excellence and commitment. They represent Michigan Tech and the college very well. Well done!

Bruce Seely

February 8, 2017

Photos below are courtesy of Michael Robb (Ohno Design in Bay City), father of bass player, Tristan Robb.

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Jazz lab band at the Historic State Theater in Bay City. Originally constructed in 1908 and remodeled most recently in the early 2000s, the acoustics are exquisite, as the audience of 600 discovered.

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Mike Irish in “full teacher mode” at the State Theater, Bay City. “I love sharing stories about the band, MTU, and the pieces that we are playing! I guess it shows.”

Picture3The drummer is Libby Welton, a December 2016 MTU grad in Mechanical Engineering. She started her first job in Wausau, WI immediately after the tour was over.

Photos from Bay City Public Schools SPOTLIGHT, January 13, 2017.

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Friedrich finalist in Distinguished Teaching Awards

image45288-persThe William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning seeks input for its annual Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions to the instructional mission of the University.

Based on more than 50,000 student ratings of instruction responses, ten finalists have been identified for the 2017 awards. The selection committee is soliciting comments from students, staff, faculty and alumni to aid in deliberation.

Mary Carol Friedrich is a finalist in the Associate Professor/Professor Category


Play written by Tech Student Advances to Regional Festival

1481652024A play written by a Michigan Tech student has advanced to the regional finals of a national competition. “Leaving,” by third-year student Sarah Jo Martens, of Hortonville, Wisconsin, was chosen to participate in the final round of the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Martens is an environmental engineering major with a minor in theatre. She is a member of the Pavlis Honors College.

“Leaving,” inspired by Marten’s relationship with her sister Rachel, will be given a fully-staged reading, along with the four other finalists at the Region III Festival, Jan. 10-15 in Indianapolis.

College theatre students from schools in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana will attend the Region III festival to compete in acting, playwriting, design, theatre technology, stage management and other categories.

Two plays from the Region III competition will advance to the Finals at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in April where they will again be given a reading.

by Visual and Performing Arts


Handel’s “Messiah” Saturday at the Rozsa

Messiahby Bethany Jones

Tickets are now on sale for a concert that celebrates a glorious rite of the Christmas Season. The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Tech Choirs, along with renowned guest vocalists, present the beloved Christmas masterpiece, Handel’s “Messiah.”

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 10), in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Among the guest performers are: Baritone Nathan Herfindahl; Soprano Jennifer D’Agostino; Mezzo-soprano Sandra Loy; and Tenor Clark Sturdevant. The performance is conducted by Jared Anderson, chair of the department of visual and performing arts.

Tickets are $19 for adults, $6 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

For ticket information and more, read the full story.


Theatre Auditions Tonight

5e1a85bec4d270eac4578defc44bb93d63d6dda2Theatre Auditions Tonight

Tonight is the final night for the Tech Theatre Company’s public auditions for David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.”

Auditions will be held in the McArdle Theatre on the second floor of the Walker Arts and Humanities Center. Auditions are set to begin at 7 p.m. with actors asked to arrive at 6:45 p.m. Call backs as needed will be held tomorrow.

No preparation or previous acting experience is required. Rehearsals begin Jan. 9.


41 North Film Festival Opens Tomorrow

DSC_0006-e1415721740421Owen Suskind is a young man on the autism spectrum. As a child he was unable to speak until he and his family discovered a way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of Disney Films.

Owen’s inspirational story is the subject of the award-winning documentary “Life Animated,” one of more than 20 films featured in Michigan Tech’s 41 North Film Festival which opens its four-day run tomorrow in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Owen Suskind is the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind on whose best-selling memoir “Life Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism,” the film is based. The film, directed by Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams, has won awards from numerous film festivals including Sundance, Telluride, Full Frame, Berkshire International and San Francisco International. Suskind and Williams will be in attendance when “Life Animated” is shown at 7:30 p.m. Friday. They will lead a discussion of the film following its showing.

Williams will also be on hand at 6 p.m. Friday for the showing of “Music by Prudence,” the documentary short for which he received the 2010 Academy Award.

Following “Life, Animated” on Friday, there will be a reception and party featuring music by the Kalamazoo band The Go Rounds.

Michigan native Jason Zeldes, an award-winning editor, will help kick off the festival with the showing of his directorial debut “Romeo is Bleeding” at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.

The film follows poet Donté Clark as he attempts to mount an urban adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” with the hopes of starting a dialogue about violence in his hometown of Richmond, California.

Director Brian Kaufman will participate in a panel discussion on his films “Predator/Prey: The Fight for Isle Royale Wolves “ and “Counting Wolves.”  Kaufman will be joined by researchers Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich. The film takes up the controversy around how to respond to the island’s dwindling wolf population.

Now in its 12th year the 41 North Film Festival offers a wealth of quality films at no cost. Tickets are free, with donations accepted.

As it has from the beginning, Michigan Tech’s Department of Humanities is a major sponsor of the festival. Humanities Department Chair Ronald Strickland says the department is proud of the way it has grown.

“In the Humanities we explore what it means to be human and it is reflected and sometimes defined through art, literature and other cultural practices,” Srickland says.

He says the films in each year’s festival are carefully selected by Festival Director Erin Smith, a principal lecturer in Digital Media and Film and director of the Humanities Digital Media Zone.

“Erin chooses the films and the invited filmmakers with a view to connect with the academic interests of Michigan Tech students and faculty and current popular topics of interest to members of the local community as well. It’s a four-day smorgasbord of culture with something for everyone.”

Smith says this year’s films cross a variety of topics and genres. “These are films that have been winning awards in festivals across the country and even around the world. While the topics in many of them are serious and thought-provoking, most open up discussion by telling great stories about some very compelling characters. ”

Also featured this year is “Sonita,” the 2015 Sundance-award winning story of a young Afghan refugee in Iran who seizes her destiny through music.

The Festival concludes on Sunday with the 7 p.m. screening of “Generation Startup.” The 2016 documentary follows six college graduates as they put everything on the line to start their own businesses in Detroit..

Film festival tickets are available by phone at 7-2073,  online at Rozsa@mtu.edu, in person at the Central Ticket Office in the Student Development Complex and at the Rozsa Box Office an hour before showtime.

A complete schedule of all films and their showtimes is available at 41northfilmfest.org.