Local Music

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

Kalamazoo Civic

The 91st season of the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre opens with Matilda The Musical, an adaptation of the classic children's book by Roald Dahl. Cara Lieurance talks to guest director Mychelle Hopkins (Old Town Playhouse, Traverse City, MI) about her history with Roald Dahl stage productions. Joining them are resident choreographer Lesa Dencklau, marketing director Janet Gover, and actor James Ilsley, who will take on the role of the outrageous and wicked headmistress Miss Trunchbull. 


Joan Herrington, chair of the Department of Theater at WMU, and professor of music theatre performance, Jay Berkow, share their insight and behind-the-scenes details on the new season of WMU Theatre. Musicals include the satirical Urinetown and Sondheim's classic Sunday In The Park With George. In December, the Tony Award-winning performer Cady Huffman, who originated the role of Ulla in The Producers, appears in Next Stop, Broadway.

Several productions encourage audiences to contend with issues from diverse viewponts, as in Tribes, in which a deaf person grows up in a hearing family. Gem of the Ocean, by playwright August Wilson, examines black life at the turn of the last century;  Dominique Morriseau's Blood At The Root is a ripped-from-the-headlines play about the Jena Six. On the lighter side, there's the farce Restoration Comedy and Peter Schaffer's classic about classical composers, Amadeus.


https://www.facebook.com/tiffanypoonpianist

The Gilmore Keyboard Festival will present five solo recitals this Sep - Jan, representing an array of talent  making waves in the classical world. Executive director Pierre Van Der Westhuizen joins Cara Lieurance to talk about how he and the festival  discover, support, and showcase the next generation of great artists.

Tiffany Poon is the first to perform, on Sep 22. A "vlogger," she makes popular videos of her practice sessions on YouTube, reaching over 130,000 subscribers. On Oct 6, two Lang Lang Scholars, Alia Alsafa and Jeffrey Chin, offer a joint recital. The Russian-Lithuanian Lukas Geniušus, from a family of venerated classical musicians, appears on Oct 20. Charles Richard-Hamelin, a Canadian who won the silver medal in the 2015 International Chopin Piano Competition, will perform on Nov 10; and Wei Luo, a 2018 Gilmore Young Artist, closes the series on Jan 19.

Simon Pauly

On Friday, Aug 30 at 7:30 pm, the South Haven Performance Series will present a song recital by Meredith Arwady, the Kalamazoo-born contralto with an international career in opera. A graduate of Loy Norrix High School and Hope College, Arwady received further training at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia before launching her career in opera. 

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Arwady explains how she approaches a recital as an opportunity to perform a story she creates herself, rather than filling a pre-written role in an opera. She touches on several of the pieces and how they fit into the arch of the recital, and they discuss some recent and upcoming projects involving living composers writing specifically for her special vocal range, which she describes as "a high tenor" at this point.


Jay Gavan is one of the guitarists with Guitar UP!, a surf-rock band he founded with his brother, guitarist Shawn Gavan, seven years ago. This summer they released their first full-length album, Western Pacificwhich will be available at their concert Friday night, Aug 23,  at Old Dog Tavern. Joining them in the group are bassist Mark Duval and drummer Bryan Heany

Jay Gavan says his interest in surf rock was formed as a kid when his older brother was learning guitar from an instructor who loved The Ventures. Over the years they pursued different musical paths, but would jam on surf rock tunes when they got together for family gatherings. The 12 original tunes on the new album were written by Jay and Shawn as well as drummer Bryan Heany. They reflect influences from spaghetti Westerns, James Bond soundtracks, as well as Michigan landmarks like the Mystery Spot in St. Ignace and the Straits of Mackinac. 


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