Local Music

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

Jane Kozhevnikova

Ben Schmidt-Swartz, a jazz tenor saxophonist who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Western Michigan University, will perform new music from a project called 'Spiritus' at The Union Cabaret and Grille on Wednesday, April 3. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Schmidt-Swartz and vocalist Lexi Galla go behind-the-scenes with stories of how the project grew out of improvisation and a personal approach to faith.

WMU School of Music

The School of Music at Western Michigan University hosts the 51st annual Spring Conference on Wind and Percussion Music on April 4 with public concerts and workshops beginning at 10:30 am, and concluding with a final concert featuring the All-Star Band of top high school wind players and the WMU  Wind Symphony. This year's featured guest composer/conductor is Carter Pann, who was nominated for the 2018 Pulitzer prize for his saxophone quartet, The Mechanics. On Thursday, the WMU Wind Symphony and soloists Brad Wong, clarinet and Henning Schroeder, saxophone will give the regional premiere of Pann's Double Concerto.  Wong, Schroeder, and director of bands Scott Boerma discussed the music and the conference with Cara Lieurance.


Johnaye Kendrick performs Friday and Saturday, March 29 and 30, at 8 pm in WMU's Dalton Center Recital Hall at the Gold Company Vocal Jazz Festival. Friday's concert opens the event, which brings high school-age students to campus for performances and workshops during the day on Saturday.  Johnaye Kendrick will be joined by a quartet: Western professors Matthew Fries, piano; and Thomas Knific, bass; and student Madison George, drums. On Saturday, Kendrick will be the featured guest soloist with Gold Company.

In a conversation with Cara Lieurance and Gold Company director Greg Jasperse, Kendrick describes her artistic journey as a search for "a voice" that took time and experience to develop.  Her years at WMU, singing in Gold Company under Steve Zegree were formative, as was her further education at the Thelonius Monk Institute and at Loyola University. Today, she lives in Tacoma, WA, and recently released her second album, Flying, to rave reviews.

Uli Templin

Cara Lieurance talks to David Binney about why he moved back to California after nearly 38 years in the New York jazz scene, and how his restless creativity leads him to new projects. 

Joel Mabus

Joel Mabus, a keen and witty songwriter, and a prodigious player of guitar, banjo, and ukulele, has developed a sixth sense of songwriting over a lifetime of working at it. Sometimes he lets a tune wait around for years for it to find its place, and other times, the song is ready to go out into the world almost immediately. 

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Mabus says the music on this album came together fairly quickly. In particular, Mabus poured his rage and remaining hope into"Yes, Truth," which was a response to a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, 2018. Together, they touch on each of the 10 songs on the album.