gilmore keyboard festival

Rufus Ferguson

Juneteenth is the June 19, 1865 date on which people in slavery in Texas were informed they had been granted freedom by the Emancipation Proclamation, two years after it was issued.  Jazz musician Rufus Ferguson, with saxophonist Seth Ebersole and bassist John Hébert, will present a Juneteenth concert at 6:30 pm on Friday, June 19, streaming live on The Gilmore Keyboard Festival's website, Youtube channel, and Facebook page, in partnership with Public Media Network.  The three will highlight the music of Black jazz musicians and composers.


Gilmore Keyboard Festival

Today would have been the official start of the 2020 Gilmore Keyboard Festival, a three-week celebration of keyboard artistry and one of the biggest festivals of its kind in the US. Early in the Covid-19 crisis, executive director Pierre van der Westhuizen saw that the festival was in jeopardy. Some international artists, who make up a large part of the festival schedule, could no longer travel. On March 13th, he announced the cancellation of the festival.

Sehvilla Mann | WMUK / photo of Emmet Cohen by Taili Song Roth

Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, joins Cara Lieurance to open the 2020 festival brochure and discuss the various artists, styles, venues and extra-musical experiences the festival will offer between April 22 - May 10. Van Der Westhuizen created different categories with multiple events for 2020, including "A Celebration of Beethoven," "Blissfully Baroque," "Keyboard Deep Dive," and "Jazz." The festival will be held in venues in Kalamazoo and surrounding communities from April 22 - May 10. 

One of the pianists singled out in the discussion is Sergei Babayan, whose career as a teacher has kept him under the radar as a soloist. He's one of the few pianists whose Chopin playing can bring Van Der Westhuizen to tears, he says. The festival will also celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth with a number of concerts, including 2018 Gilmore Artist Igor Levit playing an all-Beethoven program.

The Twin Cities-based choral group Border CrosSing, founded by Dr. Ahmed Anzaldua, a graduate of Western Michigan University, will offer a free community sing and a public concert in Kalamazoo this week. 

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Anzaldua explains that the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, which is sponsoring the Border CrosSing tour, was one of the reasons he chose to apply to school in Kalamazoo, where he earned a master's degree in piano and another in choral conducting. For his PhD in choral conducting, Anzaldua moved to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota. That's where he founded a choir to showcase the rich music of Latin American composers from the 1500s to the 2000s, drawing on his personal and scholarly background. Border CrosSing was recognized as an important project from the start, as a model for how music and community can learn from each other. 

C. Lieurance

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Rob Weiner and Jeremy Koch, two of the founders of Farmers Alley Theatre, share their anticipation for the seven Signature Series productions, three Spotlight Series shows, and three Theatre For Young Audiences offerings in the 2019-2020 season. At season 12, says Weiner, their vision and model is reaching new stages of experience and growth, thanks to a growing reputation nationally and the good word of performers from New York and Los Angeles cast in Farmers Alley productions.

The Spotlight Series begins Oct 4 with a re-envisioned chamber setting of the Lerner & Loewe musical Camelot, followed in late November-December by It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. The ripped-from-the-headlines dramedy The Cake and Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers follow, in February and March. Farmers Alley Theatre will partner again with the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in spring to present an intimate look at Billie Holiday's life, in Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grille. Then in June, they'll present the first regional production of Bright Star, written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, followed by High Fidelity in July-Aug, adapted from the 2000 film.


Pages