Local Music

Hear interviews with guests on music programs produced here at WMUK, as well as program news.

Xie Guichen

Nineteen year-old pianist Wei Luo, a 2018 Gilmore Young Artist, will perform Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody On A Theme of Paganini with the Battle Creek Symphony on Saturday as her final concert during the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Luo talks about her experiences this week at the festival, which included solo recitals in South Haven, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. 

As they discuss her upcoming performance of the Rhapsody, Luo talks about the school she's attended for six years, the Curtis Institute of Music. They listen to a recording of her teacher, pianist Gary Graffman, performing the Rhapsody in a 1964 recording with his friend, Leonard Bernstein, conducting the New York Philharmonic. 

Wei Luo will perform the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on Saturday at 7:30 pm, in W.K. Kellogg Auditorium.

Carlin Ma

In a series of upcoming recitals and a concerto performance,  Elliot Wuu will demonstrate the qualities that earned him a Gilmore Young Artist award to Michigan audiences. Wuu says he's excited to have the opportunity to perform his program three times--  in Marshall, Vicksburg and Kalamazoo -- and he describes the musical selections by Gian Carlo Menotti, Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff to Cara Lieurance.

The winner of the 2015 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Elliot Wuu will also perform Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra on May 11. For more infomation, visit the Gilmore Keyboard Festival website.

Luxe Creative Imaging

Oscar Hernandez takes great pride in the top-level musicianship of the Grammy-winning Latin/Jazz band the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, which will perform at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Chenery Auditorium on Saturday at 8 pm. He tells Cara Lieurance how he and his fellow players push the boundaries of virtuosity and complexity while never losing touch with the traditions and foundations upon which the music is based.

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is celebrating fifteen years as a group with a new album, AnniversaryHernandez says Kalamazoo audiences will be some of the first to hear the new songs played live. The new album includes nine original pieces, and four old standards that were "taken to the tailor to get a brand new suit of clothes." 

Janet Gover

Portage West Middle School seventh grader Andrew Klepser and Billy Elliot, the fictional title character of a film (2000) and musical (2005), have at least one thing in common: both were kind of surprised to discover they could dance. In a live interview, director Jay Berkow, actress Allison Crockett (Grandma), Max Butkiewicz (Michael) and Andrew Klepser (Billy Elliot) discuss the characters and themes of the musical, which will be a regional premiere in west Michigan.

Set during the doomed 1984-5 National Union of Mineworkers strike in the U.K. (one of the largest industrial actions in history), it tells the story of a motherless Billy Elliot, who lives with his somewhat senile grandmother and his father and brother, both coal miners, the latter involved in violence. Billy and his friend Michael are both accustomed to sometimes harsh and neglectful parenting, and so they set out to discover their own worth through trial and error -- Billy with the help of an unlikely mentor, the frustrated dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson.

Billy Elliot opens on Friday, May 4, and performances continue through May 20. Detail at the Kalamazoo Civic website.

Gregor Hohenberg

It has been twenty years since Leif Ove Andsnes received the 1998 Gilmore Artist Award, which is given to  unusually gifted pianists with the potential to make an original impact on music. In the years since, Andsnes has found new wells of creativity through collaborations with singers, instrumentalists, and orchestras, and through his own solo playing. On Monday, April 30 the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival will present Andsnes in recital at Chenery Auditorium at 8 pm.

In a conversation recorded by phone from his home in Norway, Andsnes talks about his recent projects, which include a new recording of music by Jean Sibelius, whose solo piano works have been long overlooked. He touches on fatherhood, as well as the variety of pieces on his program: Carl Nielsen's Chaconne, Beethoven's Sonata Op. 31 No. 2 "Tempest," Idyll and Abyss by Jörg Widmann, and selected works of Schubert.