Elizabeth Start

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.

C. Lieurance

Three of the ten cellists who will perform on the 4th annual Octocelli concert join Cara Lieurance to talk about the variety of music they'll play at 7 pm on Thursday, at the First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo. Composer-cellist Elizabeth Start has four pieces on the program: her solo setting of "Simple Gifts;" a cello duo called "Multiple Choice,"  a cello quartet called "Quatrefoil," and an octet called "Seagull Blues." Composer-cellist Laurie Jarski's "Funky Blues for Four Cellos," a blend of rhythmic techniques and bluesy melodies, will also be featured, along with a setting for cello trio of the classic song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," by cellist-arranger David Peshlakai. Start, Jarski, and Peshlakai will be joined by seven other cellists to play everything from Dvorak's "Largo" to music from Pirates of the Caribbean. 

C. Lieurance

Both Carolyn Koebel and Elizabeth Start are busy professional musicians based in Kalamazoo -- Koebel as a percussionist with An Dro, Elden Kelly, and the Dacia Bridges Project. and Start as a classical cellist and composer who plays with the Kalamazoo Symphony and the Elgin Symphony. Their roles as music organizers cause their paths to cross regularly, and a few months ago, they made a plan to collaboratively finish their own holiday albums, and release them in a joint concert. On Thursday, December 7 at 7 pm at First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo, the two resulting seasonal albums, Love's Pure Light and A Very Cello Christmas will be available at a live concert featuring Start and Koebel and additional performers. 

In a musical preview interview with Cara Lieurance, Koebel explains that her role in Love's Pure Light was to bring together the contributions of nearly a dozen musicians, most prominently hammered dulcimer player Doug Berch. For her part, Elizabeth Start focused on the solo cello arrangements she'd written for herself after finding others' arrangements weren't up to snuff. 

Michael Palmer

For the 22nd year in a row, a post-Thanksgiving 'Messiah Sing!' will be held at First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo, co-sponsored by the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music. MFSM executive director Betsy Start, First Congregational music director Michael Palmer, and tenor Keiwon Lambert, a choral scholar with the church and voice student at Western Michigan University, joined Cara Lieurance to encourage singers, new and regular, to join them for a performance of the Messiah, supported by the church choir, four soloists, and a full orchestra.  It begins at 4 pm on Sunday.