Local Music

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

Kalamazoo Civic

War Paint is a musical fresh off its Broadway run ( where it starred Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole) coming to the Kalamazoo Civic in a new production led by artist director Tony Humrichouser May 3-19. It will be the regional premiere of this jazzy, true-life show about the rivalry between two self-made women: cosmetic titans Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, who battled for domination of the global makeup market from the 1920-60s.

In a conversation with Humrichouser, actress Gina Chimner (Elizabeth Arden), and marketing director Janet Gover, the extraordinary details of Arden and Rubinstein's careers and personal lives are revealed. One small example: when Arden first introduced her clients to mascara, Rubinstein upped the ante by inventing the mascara wand. Both women feared losing control of their companies to their right-hand men - and ended up losing the men to each other's companies.

Music and lyrics are by Grey Gardens team Scott Frankel and Michael Korie. Humrichouser says War Paint will feature the debut of new technology at the Civic - a "Cyc," or digital cyclorama, which projects  detailed backgrounds onto a rear screen. Looking ahead, Humrichouser and Gover preview the shows the Civic will present in season 91, starting with Matilda next September.


kalamazoobachfestival.org

The 72nd annual Kalamazoo Bach Festival opens on Friday, April 26 with an evening of songs performed by three soloists: countertenor Terry Barber, soprano Jennifer Forni, and baritone Elliot Madore, all of whom will later appear as soloists with the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus and Kalamazoo Junior Symphony on Sunday, April 28 for a performance of Carmina Burana. In the studio with Cara Lieurance, Barber and Forni share their musical histories and highlights of their current careers, while previewing the songs of their Friday recital.


thegilmore.org

Pierre van der Westhuizen, the executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and a concert pianist himself, joins Cara Lieurance to preview the final concerts of the spring season. On April 28 at 4 pm, American pianist Kate Liu, a finalist of the 2015 Chopin Competition, will perform works by Beethoven, Mozart and Prokofiev in the Wellspring Theatre. Westhuizen recalls the day he watched the livestream of the famous competition, and how Ms. Liu's performance stood out among all the others. Liu had to withdraw from performing in recent seasons to allow an injury to resolve - something Westhuizen says athletes and musicians share in common.

On May 7 at 8 pm in Chenery Auditorium, the 2010 Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein will replace an ailing Murray Perahia on the Piano Masters Series. Gerstein, who has returned to Kalamazoo more times than any other Gilmore Artist, will play a wide-ranging program of immense variety and difficulty, Westhuizen says. Westhuizen and Cara Lieurance get into the details of the great Liszt Sonata in B minor and other works on the program.


wellspringdance.org

Eyes Back, Feet Forward Spring Concert of Dance by Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers set for May 2-4, will build on a collaboration between the 39 year-old modern dance company and Last Gasp Collective, a hip-hop/soul/jazz group founded by Jay Jackson in 2015. In the studio with Cara Lieurance, Wellspring's Cori Terry looks back at who she was when she came to Kalamazoo 4 decades ago, and how her personal mission has changed over time with the success of the company. The extra time and rehearsal required to collaborate with live musicians is worth it, she says, for the palpable energy live performance creates. Last Gasp leader Jay Jackson says the collaboration with Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers has been beneficial for the band, adding to his wide-ranging vision for the group.

The Spring Concert will be performed in the Wellspring Theatre of the Epic Center on Thursday, May 2 at 7 pm, Friday, May 3 at 8 pm, and Saturday, May 4 at 8 pm.


Sud Web, via Flickr. All creative commons license.

The Kalamazoo Bach Festival - a 73 year-old music organization that presents a series of (mostly) classical concerts each spring - and Open Doors Kalamazoo - a 49 year-old aid organization that helps move people out of homelessness - are collaborating for the first time to bring musical experiences to new audiences. Stephanie Hoffman, executive director of Open Doors, and Cori Somers, executive director of the Kalamazoo Bach Festival, say they found common ground over a shared love of music and belief in every person's need for beauty in their lives. 

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Somers talks about the variety of upcoming concerts the Kalamazoo Bach Festival will present between April 26 - May 6. In particular, the May 3rd "Breaking Barriers With Bach" and the May 4th "Visions and Miracles" events will include cross-collaboration with Open Doors. Hoffman describes her experience starting out as a social worker with Open Doors 16 years ago. She learned to go beyond the negative circumstances and labels attached to her clients and ask a simple question that cut through to their real selves: "Who are you?"  Food and shelter are basic needs, she says, but access to art also addresses a deep desire everyone shares.


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