Local Music

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

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.


Rob Doda

Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Collins, a Canadian musician at the forefront of new acoustic trends and blends (from bluegrass to gypsy jazz to Celtic to Nick Drake), talks to Cara Lieurance about the Canadian folk scene and the album tour for Tongue and Groove, a double album of songs and instrumentals. Collins and fellow musicians Mike Mezzatesta and James McEleney will perform at The Riviera Theatre in Three Rivers on Saturday, Sep 21. 


Viktor Hartmann

Music director Julian Kuerti and soloist Leticia Moreno, a Spanish violinist, join Cara Lieurance to talk about how three different composers (and one orchestrator) put vivid, personal touches in their music to evoke images and stories. The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra will open its 2019-2020 season with Gunther Schuller's 7 Studies on Themes of Paul Klee, Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, which was orchestrated by Maurice Ravel in 1933.

In the case of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, Moreno says the composer was already thinking in the sound-world of his ballet Romeo & Juliet when he was writing this work. She puts herself in a mind-set that brings back her first memories of performing the concerto, as well as young Juliet's passion, when she plays this piece.

Kuerti made a choice to give the musicians of the KSO a chance to show their virtuosity in Schuller's specific, modernist music that can sometimes swing. He says Pictures is fascinating in its original piano version, but as an orchestral showpiece, it excels at extremes.

The concert begins at 8 pm on Friday, Sep 20, at Miller Auditorium. A Prelude talk begins at 7 pm, and the audience is invited to AfterWords, a post-concert visit with the maestro and soloist in the mezzanine.


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.


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