Local Music

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


David Shifrin, Peter Wiley, and Anna Polonsky all bring rich and joyful backgrounds in classical music to their music-making. Taking time out of a rehearsal, Shifrin, Wiley and Polonsky get on the speaker phone talk to Cara Lieurance about how their musical histories intersect. For example, all are alumni of the Curtis Institute, and all have enjoyed performing together at summer festivals. Their trio, which was formed in 2018, will perform music of Beethoven, Brahms, and Zemlinsky on the Fontana series at 7:30 pm on Friday, January 31 at First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo. A pre-concert lecture is offered at 7 pm. 

Cindy Hunter

Cindy Hunter, director of music at First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo, and organist Michael Montgomery join Cara Lieurance to announce the upcoming events of the 50th Anniversary year of the Casavant Frères Pipe Organ, an instrument that debuted in 1970 after the destruction by fire of the previous organ.

Hunter and Montgomery discuss the special qualities of this treasured instrument, one of several notable pipe organs in Kalamazoo. The first event is a Choral Evensong with Organ Rededication, at 4 pm Sunday January 26. Follow upcoming events at the First Presbyterian Church's facebook page.


50th Anniversary Organ Events 

Casavant Frères Pipe Organ, op. 3067

First Presbyterian Church, Kalamazoo Michigan


  • Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, 4 pm  - Choral Evensong with Organ Rededication 

  • Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, 7 pm  - American Guild of Organists - SW Michigan Chapter members recital

  • Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, 4 pm  - “Vox Humana” - concert featuring voices with WMU Choral Scholars 

  • Sunday March 15, 2020, 4 pm and 10:00 morning worship - Guest Recitalist Dr. Norah Duncan - Wayne State University, Blessed Sacrament Church, Detroit 

  • Sunday, April 26 following morning service - Organ Petting Zoo

  • Friday, May 1, 2020 - Doors open to church during Art Hop, area organists playing organ

  • Sunday, May 17, 2020, 4 pm  - Guest Recitalist Marilyn Ossentjuk, with her WMU organ students 

  • Monday, June 1, 2020, 7 pm  - Bach Festival Week “Bach Around the Block” Friday/Saturday, June 5 & 6, 2020  Doors open to church during KIA Art Fair, area organists playing organ

  • Friday, July 10, 2020 - Doors open to church during Art Hop, area organists playing organ

  • Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, 7 pm - HymnFest featuring former organist Elizabeth Bruce, Doors open to church during Art Hop

  • September 13, 2020, 4 pm and 10:00 morning service  - Guest Recitalist Dr. John Sherer (Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago) in collaboration with Gilmore Keyboard Festival

  • Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, 4 pm - Recitalist Michael Montgomery Halloween themed event, with Trunk or Treat in Gathering Place following recital. Invite all to wear costumes

  • Sunday, All Saints Day, Nov. 1, 2020 4 pm - Choir/organ/orchestra presentation of large choral masterwork Faure Requiem (performed at organ dedication 50 years in 1970)

  • Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, 4 pm - Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday - Brass and organ, solo instruments with organ - in collaboration with Michigan Festival of Sacred Music

  • Sunday, Dec 13, 2020, 6 pm - Advent Vespers Service. John Rutter’s “Gloria.”

Chinese Association of Greater Kalamazoo

The 39th annual Chinese New Year Gala will be held at 7 pm on Saturday, January 25 at Chenery Auditorium, say organizers Li Jin and John Vos of the Chinese Association of Greater Kalamazoo. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Jin and Vos talk about some of the special traditions associated with the Lunar New Year, such as wearing the color red, cleaning the home before the new year, and the important of feasting with family. At Chenery Auditorium, 16 acts will be featured, including musicians, dancers, visual artists, calligraphers, and athletes. It will start with a Dragon Dance, and finish with the Lion Dance.

Tickets and more information on this public event are at the CAGK website.

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.