WMU

Kiri Tollaksen

Kiri Tollaksen, a cornetto player for the Dark Horse Consort, tells Cara Lieurance about her instrument, her consort, and the special qualities of the Renaissance-era music they play, as she prepares to perform on the Bullock Performance Institute series at Western Michigan University on Wednesday, Sep 19 at 7:30 pm.  


Sehvilla Mann / WMUK-FM

Western Michigan University’s president says it's launched or expanded several programs to help students thrive.


image provided by the artist

The "Rob Clearfield sound" is hard to pin down. A natural improviser, he's able to create music with ideas like, "I think I'll start in D major." At the piano in WMUK's Takeda Studio, he tells Keith Hall about his musical development, which began at home with his mother, a classically-trained pianist/church organist. Another step forward came when she brought home a battered guitar, inspiring him to get the hang of popular music styles, which he then transferred back to the keyboard. Jazz became his dominant pursuit when his teacher randomly grabbed an album to play at the end of class. It was Wayne Shorter's "Witch Hunt," from Speak No Evil.

In the studio with Keith Hall, Clearfield begins with a piece he makes up on the spot. Then, he and Hall talk about his process of writing and improvising, centered around his newest collection of tunes, newly recorded on the album Wherever You're Starting From.


Last March, Western Michigan University's acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble Gold Company won its division at the prestigious Next Generation Jazz Festival. Later this month, they'll jet back to California be featured at the 61st annual Monterey Jazz Festival, a world-famous gathering of over 500 jazz artists. Closer to home, in Grand Rapids, MI on Thursday, Sep 20 at 7:30 pm, Gold Company will perform on the Great American Voices series presented by historic Park Church, one of the oldest churches in the city of Grand Rapids.

Greg Jasperse, director of Gold Company, and Patrick Colye, music director at Park Church, joined Cara Lieurance to preview the concert and sing the praises of the always-polished ensemble.


Alvan Quinn / AP Photo

Most of those who have heard of John Fetzer usually know him as the former owner of the Detroit Tigers. Some in Michigan, and especially in Kalamazoo, know a little about Fetzer’s other interests: broadcasting, and spiritual exploration. In his new book, John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age (Wayne State University Press, 2018), Western Michigan University professor Brian Wilson digs much deeper to reveal what very few knew about the Michigan entrepreneur.


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