Tag: vpa

Michigan Tech Concert Choir tours New Zealand

On May 1-15, 2024 the members of the Michigan Tech Concert Choir participated in a successful tour of New Zealand. They traveled through Auckland, Rotorua, Hamilton, Wellington, Hanmer Springs, Christchurch, Queenstown, and Dunedin; traveling from the far north to the far south of the country. They were fortunate to have beautiful weather for the trip, with a lot of sunshine and temperatures much like we experience now in the Keweenaw. 58 individuals traveled in the group: 47 performers (including the conductor and pianist) and 11 friends. The youngest choir member was 16 years old and the oldest was 82 years old. Travelers included 17 Michigan Tech students, 2 Houghton HS students (one will be a freshman at Tech in the fall), 6 faculty, 4 retired faculty/staff, 7 choir alumni, and 22 community members.

The choir performed in lovely venues in each of the major cities:

Auckland: St. Matthew-in-the-City Anglican Church
Hamilton: Exchange with the Hamilton Civic Choir (held on the campus of the University of Waikato)
Wellington: St. Mary of the Angels Catholic Church
Christchurch: The Philip Carter Family Concert Hall at The Piano
Dunedin: St. Paul’s Cathedral (Anglican)

Highlights of the tour included visiting the extinct caldera of Mt. Eden (Maungawhau) in Auckland, Hobbiton (near Rotorua), seeing the Southern Lights in Christchurch, feeling the mountain air in Hanmer Springs and Queenstown. The choir experienced beautiful vistas, wonderful food, welcoming audiences, and warm sunshine.

Director, Jared Anderson, said, “I am so proud of how the choir performed in each concert on the tour. They sang with great heart and really represented the university well to each audience. I am also especially grateful for the ways that the members of the choir remained positive through long travel days and the usual obstacles experienced in a travel group of this size. It is a trip that will remain in our memory for a long time. I am also grateful for the support of the College of Sciences and Arts and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts along with many donors who helped to underwrite some the expenses of the trip for the students. Through donor generosity, each student received significant support that was applied to their travel fee. We look forward to traveling again in the future.”

Michigan Tech Theatre: Haunted Mine This Weekend

Join us this Halloween season at the Quincy Mine for a haunted experience that you won’t forget! Tram will run about every 20 minutes from 6-10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.quincymine.com, and it is HIGHLY recommended to do so, as the tours sell out quickly! Youth under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult.

Content Considerations //  jumpscares, flickering and strobing lights, loud sounds, and fog, appropriate clothing and comfortable footwear that can handle some dirt is strongly suggested.

ABOUT

Michigan Tech Theatre creates entertainment events for the Keweenaw, sharing the creative and scholarly work of students and faculty from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

Kent A. Cyr, Associate Professor, is the Technical Director at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI. He teaches courses in Technical Construction, Stagecraft, Rigging, Stage Mechanics, and Properties Artisanship.  He is the director of the B.S. in Theatre and Entertainment Technology program.  He is a member of the USITT Tech Expo committee and active in the Technical Production commission, Education commission, and the Emerging Creatives Showcase. In KCACTF region III, he is the Festival Technical Director, and a respondent to the technical load-in process. He has worked at Spoleto Festival USA, Bard Summerscape, The La Jolla Playhouse, Cyco Scenic, and continues to work professionally with Technical Theatre Solutions.

VPA Welcomes New Sound Faculty

Visual and Performing Arts announces two new sound faculty that have joined the department. Jeff Sherwood, Assistant Professor of Sound, and Michael Maxwell, Assistant Teaching Professor.

Jeff Sherwood (he/him) is a professional theatre artist and educator specializing in sound design, music composition, and audio engineering.  He strives to bring original and innovative ideas in collaboration with creative teams in the art of storytelling.  He has worked in New York City at Off-Broadway theatres including The Public Theater, The New Group, Signature Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, and others.  During the past few summers, he has worked as Audio Supervisor at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, where his affinity for sound design for new puppetry, music theatre, and play development continues to grow, and where he will be returning this year as the Resident Sound Designer for the National Playwrights Conference. 

Assistant Professor Jeff Sherwood

He is thrilled to be joining the sound program at Michigan Technological University as an Assistant Professor of Sound in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and is eager to collaborate with colleagues and students on future projects.  He enjoys mentoring and fueling the passion of the rising generation of sound artists and engineers, and is regularly invited to teach sound design masterclasses and workshops at the National Theater Institute.  He previously held the faculty position of Teacher-Scholar Postgraduate Fellow in Sound Design at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.  He received his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatre Sound from Purdue University, and his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theatre Design and Production from Oklahoma City University.

Recent awards include the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Robert E. Cohen Sound Achievement Award for Young Designers, Managers, and Technicians in the Performing Arts, as well as the Purdue University Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching Assistants in 2020.  He was also a national finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2012 and 2014.  He is an active member of the USITT Sound Commission, Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association (TSDCA), Audio Engineering Society (AES), and is an Associated Crafts and Technicians (ACT) member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).  His Korean American heritage inspires his interests in traveling, exploring new cultures, and keeping local restaurants in business.  View and hear his work at www.sherwoodsound.com

We are excited that Jeff Sherwood is bringing his expertise in composing with virtual instruments as well as in depth experience with New York City theatrical production to Michigan Tech. We are extremely lucky to have attracted new faculty with this level of creative and technical skill and experience.  

Christopher Plummer, VPA Professor of Sound

Assistant Teaching Professor Michael Maxwell

Michael Maxwell, MFA

Michael Maxwell is a sound/media artist, audio engineer, and educator with an interest in audio/visual synthesis, music and sound effects recording, mixing, and media art installation. Maxwell received his Master of Fine Arts in Mass Communication & Media Arts from Southern Illinois University and is an Academic Leadership Fellow through University of Central Oklahoma’s Educators’ Leadership Academy.

Maxwell has worked in post production audio for SyFy Channel, Historia Pictures, and various independent filmmakers with works shown in dozens of film festivals internationally. Recently, Maxwell has been a live sound mixer for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, John DaVersa & His Small Band, Emily Rhyne & The Oklahoma Legacy Band, and AdaFest Music Festival. Current media art pieces include Aggregate Voices, an audio installation series shown in the Pogue Gallery in Ada, OK and After Hunts Spiral, which was installed in the Over the Structures Exhibition at Czong Institute for Contemporary Art, Gimpo-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea. Portfolio Link https://www.mgmaxwell.net/

Mike Maxwell brings experience in synthesizers, art installations, and video broadcast to the VPA department.  This will provide our students with more creative opportunities and expand on numerous cross campus collaborations. 

Christopher Plummer, VPA Professor of Sound

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.

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.

An Unforgettable Journey

Michigan Tech choir members in front of a statue of Nelson Mandela, South Africa, May 2017.

The Michigan Tech Concert Choir, along with friends and family, spent two weeks sharing their music with the people of South Africa. What they received in return, was life changing.

In May, 45 members of the choir, along with 29 guests, embarked on a two-week concert tour of South Africa. The group traveled to Chicago on May 2 and boarded a plane the following day for the 25-hour trip to Pretoria. In addition to concert stops in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Soweto and Cape Town, the they spent three nights in the African countryside at the Cradle Moon Safari Lodge. The group ranged in age from 14 to 87 and included 12 current Michigan Tech students and 19 current or retired faculty/staff members among the singers.

The group performed a total of five concerts; at the University of Pretoria, Holy Cross Anglican Church in Soweto, Hillbrow Theatre in Johannesburg, Old Apostolic Church in Khayelitsha (Cape Town) and Phandulawazi High School, Mitchell’s Plain (Cape Town). In addition to the concerts, the choir participated in two church services and five choral workshops and exchanges with local choirs.

Michigan Tech Concert Choir Director Jared Anderson poses with a new friend during a visit to a South African school. The choir spent two weeks in South Africa in May.

Michigan Tech Concert Choir Director Jared Anderson poses with a new friend during a visit to a South African school. The choir spent two weeks in South Africa in May.

Choir Director Jared Anderson, chair of the Michigan Tech Department of Visual and Performing Arts says the choir also embarked on a pair of outreach activities. “We worked with the Amy Biehl Foundation in Cape Town, with pre-K through grade 12 students in an after-school program that included music,” he said. “At the Baphumelele Children’s Home, also in Cape Town, our group interacted with orphans, including many who are the victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa.”

Anderson said the workshops and outreach activities were as significant experiences as were the concerts themselves. “We were able to interact with people who were in difficult situations, but they always had a smile and a great outlook. Something that we could all learn from. Our outreach and concerts all occurred in areas where most Western choirs never visit. We performed in the townships, in churches and schools in the middle of areas that dealt with a lot of poverty.”

Student Spencer Carlson of Royal Oak, Michigan, calls the experience “indescribable … this has changed my life in ways I never thought about before the trip,” he says. “Living, singing and dancing with the South African people, experiencing a bit of their life … I can’t formulate the words. I now have a little bit of Africa in me and I hope this feeling says with me for the rest of my life.”

Michigan Tech student Spencer Carlson learns some moves during the Michigan Tech Concert Choir's tour of South Africa in May.

Michigan Tech student Spencer Carlson learns some moves during the Michigan Tech Concert Choir’s tour of South Africa in May.

Anderson says the exchanges between the Michigan Tech singers and their South African hosts were indeed “life changing.”

“I can’t remember concert experiences that were more varied and exciting for our singers. The choirs that we collaborated with welcomed us with open arms and warm hearts. The choir will never forget the experience of singing side by side with people who sing with such spirit,” says Anderson.

Scott Sviland was impressed by the audience participation. “It was there from the first song on,” the chemical engineering major from Escanaba says. “It was in these moments where you really see how reserved American audiences are compared to audiences in South Africa.” Sviland says this was especially true when the Tech choir would sing a South African piece.

“I now have a little bit of Africa in me …” Spencer Carlson

“When we performed ‘Hlonolofatsa’ and once we started dancing, the crowd went wild. The audiences would make every single performance special and created a truly magical environment.”

Sviland was not alone in feeling the trip was about so much more than music. “The people of South Africa have taught me what it truly means to live life. The way many of them live without worrying what people thing of them is now something to which I now aspire.”

Anderson said each choir tour ends up being an incredible adventure, but there was something special about South Africa.

“Coming home from South Africa I saw things with new eyes. I know that I am a changed person and I know that many individuals in the choir feel the same way.”

Formed in 1980, the Michigan Tech Concert Choir is made up of Michigan Tech students, faculty, staff, retirees and community members. Since its inception, international touring has been an important part of the Concert Choir experience. To date, the choir has toured and performed in Mexico, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Russia, Dalmatia, China, and now South Africa.

Gordillo Presents Exhibit “Prohibido Orinar Aqui” in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Lisa Gordillo, Assistant Professor, Visual and Performing Arts, presents a new collection of sculpture and installation at the Centro Cultural Efrain Recinos in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, July 15-Aug. 1. The exhibit, titled “Prohibido Orinar Aqui,” was developed from Gordillo’s spring exhibit, “ChickenBus,” in the Rozsa Gallery. The works of art in the exhibit are inspired by US-Guatemalan relations.

Gordillo is also sculptor-in-residence at Tierra Adentro, the International Poetry Festival of Aguacatan, Guatemala. This year’s festival is dedicated to immigrants and displaced people. Gordillo will create an art installation, titled “Caminante” (Someone Walking) along the Aguacatan river and a migrating book as part of the festival.

Antigua - Guatemala - January 24, 2013: Traditional Guatemalan local "Chicken Bus" station in Antigua, Guatemala. It is located behind the busy street market in Antigua.
Antigua – Guatemala – January 24, 2013: Traditional Guatemalan local “Chicken Bus” station in Antigua, Guatemala. It is located behind the busy street market in Antigua.

“Orchid Ensemble” Performs Saturday

maxresdefaultJoin us for a concert featuring the renowned Canadian group “Orchid Ensemble,” who will join conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber singers, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 1) in the McArdle Theatre, on the second floor of the Walker Arts and Humanities Center.

Established in 1997, the JUNO-nominated Orchid Ensemble is comprised of Lan Tung on the erhu/Chinese violin, Yu-Chen Wang on the zheng/Chinese zither and Jonathan Bernard on percussion.

The ensemble blends ancient musical instruments and traditions from China and beyond, creating a beautiful new sound. They have embraced a variety of musical styles to thier repertoire, ranging from the traditional and contemporary music of China, world music, new music to jazz and creative improvisation.

The energetic yet endearing performance style of the ensemble consistently intrigues and delights its audiences. Acclaimed as “One of the brightest blossoms on the world music scene” (Georgia Straight), the Orchid Ensemble has been tirelessly developing an innovative musical genre based on the cultural exchange between Western and Asian musicians.

Students from conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers will join the ensemble for three selections in the concert.

Tickets are on sale now, $22 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 Calumet Theatre Box Office.

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.