Elizabeth Start

C. Lieurance

A new composition that lasts as long as the drive to Lake Michigan from Kalamazoo. A nature walk with musicians along the trail.  16 new music pieces inspired by art works to be exhibited at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. An installation of sculptures that activate sounds, at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. These are some of the creative ways the Connecting Chords Music Festival is moving forward in an era of COVID-19 cancellations. Cara Lieurance spoke with executive director Elizabeth Start about the events.


Jim Triezenberg, for Kalamazoo Nature Center

The arboretum at the Kalamazoo Nature Center will ring with more than birdsong on Sunday, Sep 13 at 3 pm. Six performers and ensembles, invited by the Connecting Chords Festival, will be stationed at different points along the paths, allowing visitors to wander and listen. The performers are world music percussionist Carolyn Koebel, Ugandan singer/dancer/multi-instrumentalist Samuel Nalangira, the Celtic group Hazeltree, singer/storyteller Sidney Ellis II, Scandinavian duo Norse Code, and the Middle Eastern group Bahar Ensemble. Koebel, Nalangira, and Connecting Chords executive director Elizabeth Start joined Cara Lieurance for a preview.


Elizabeth Start's many plans collapsed in March with the COVID-19 shutdown. An active soloist, chamber music player, symphony player and composer, she also lost opportunities to have her own music performed locally and beyond.

But when the reality of the situtation sank in, Start didn't sink: she swam in new directions. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, she talks about how long-delayed projects, big and small, got the attention they deserved when all the immediate deadlines went away.

Austin Colbert

From Friday, Oct 18 through Sunday, Dec 1, the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music will present the 2019 Connecting Chords Music Festival, a series of 20 events that reveal traditions of faiths around the world. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, festival director Elizabeth Start and performer Carolyn Koebel talk about the master musicians who will be visiting the community to perform, and ways community members can become participants in activities like Taiko drumming, sacred singing, and African drumming and dance. 

Some of the prominent artists include multi-instrumentalist Samite of Uganda, early music group Schola Antiqua, oud master Rahim Alhaj, and Japanese-American Taiko drummer Ken Koshio

In particular, Start and Koebel detail the work of the Tibetan Buddhist Monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery.  From Nov 6 - Nov 10, the monks will create an intricate mandala, or sand-painting. The public can observe its creation from 9 am - 5 pm at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The monks will also offer a concert of song and dance featuring rare instruments and costumes, at 7:30 pm Friday, Nov 8 at Comstock Auditorium.


Michael Palmer

Four soloists, a professional orchestra, church choir, conductor and organist will be on hand to give you a chance to sing in one of the most famous choral works ever written, Handel's Messiah, on Sunday, Nov 25 at 4 pm at First Congregational Church. Conductor Michael Palmer, tenor Howard Tejchma, organist Kory Heitzig, and cellist Betsy Start, all returning musicians, talk about their experiences playing for the 23rd annual Messiah Sing.


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