Local Music

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

Johnny Rodgers

Johnny Rodgers began his life as a performer in theatre - singing, writing songs on piano, and dancing - when he was a boy growing up in Florida, egged on by his music-loving grandmother.  But he credits Western Michigan's Gold Company, and director Steve Zegree, with some of the most critical training for his career. Today he is an acclaimed one-man-band performer about whom the Chicago Tribune wrote: "He plays piano better than most singers. He sings better than most pianists. And he writes songs better than most singer-pianists." (Reich, Howard. "Johnny Rodgers: A Singer-Pianist For All Seasons." Chicago Tribune. Nov 25, 2014).  

Rodgers joined Jazz Currents host Keith Hall in the studio at WMUK during a visit to his alma mater in December 2017. He plays his own songs, "Home To Mendocino," "The Best of You And Me," and "Mid-Day Moon," as well as the popular song, "What a Wonderful World."


Dario Acosta

The Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck returns for its 31st season with concerts by the renowned Tesla Quartet on Thursday and Friday. Violinist Ross Snyder spoke with Cara Lieurance about the quartet's debut album (which will be released in September), and about the special works planned for the festival. They include Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 18/3, the String Quartet No. 1 in C major by Karol Szymanowski, Arvo Pärt's Fratres, and the String Quartet No. 5 by Philip Glass.

Music begins at 7:30 pm July 5 and 6 at the Saugatuck Woman's Club.


Spice Institute

SPLICE -  Summer institute for Performance, Listening, Interpretation, and Creation of Electroacoustic music - is a weeklong, intensive program for performers and composers who work with instruments and electronics. Held at Western Michigan University's School of Music, over 60 musicians and composers from across the US will participate in workshops, masterclasses, private lessons, and public performances of new works. The public is invited to free concerts each weeknight at 7:30 pm in the Dalton Center Recital Hall, and a full day of performances from 10:30 am - 8:00 pm, on Saturday, June 30. 

Co-founders Christopher Biggs and Keith Kirchoff, performer/composer Sam Wells, and composer/participant Carolyn Borcherding joined Cara Lieurance to talk about the variety of public concerts offered during SPLICE week, and how electroacoustic music festivals and workshops foster community and growth within the new music world.


C. Lieurance

When two musicians find themselves compatible with each other, distance matters less. Fiddler Ryan McKasson, who lives in Tacoma, WA and Boston-raised singer/guitarist Eric McDonald, of Montreal, Canada, are a top-notch duo that play traditional music of Scotland, Ireland and North America. They recently visited WMUK while touring with their new album, Harbour

Jiyang Chen

The Kalamazoo Trumpet Workshop is celebrating its fifth year with a special guest: trumpeter Brandon Ridenour, a Kalamazoo native whose career took him to Juilliard, then to the Canadian Brass, then to his own New York-based performing groups, Founders and Useful Chamber. On Tuesday, June 26 at 7 pm, Ridenour's Founders Trio will perform a free public concert in the Light Fine Arts's Dalton Theater at Kalamazoo College. Keith Geiman, the co-founder of the Kalamazoo Trumpet Workshop, spoke with Cara Lieurance about the importance of young trumpeters maintaining the progress they've made during the summer, and about the other public events the workshop is offering - including student recitals and ensemble concerts - during the weeklong event. 


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