Local Music

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

Renee Fleming - Andrew Eccles, DECCA; Evgeny Kissin - Andrew Sebastian Hãnel

On Wednesday, April 15, 2020 in Chenery Auditorium, two classical music stars - American soprano Renee Fleming and Russian-born pianist Evgeny Kissin - will perform a program of songs and solo pieces as part of a handful of appearances in the United States, including stops at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Symphony Center of Chicago. Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, the executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, talks about the special qualities that made each performer a legend in classical music, and share some of the behind-the-scenes preparation that his organization carries out to help the artists perform at their best.

Tickets for this event will be made available to Gilmore Keyboard Festival donors on Nov 3, 2019, and to the general public in January, 2020.


Joy Rhine Photography

The Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck continues this week with festival co-directors Jennifer Walvoord and Drew Le joining Grand Rapids Symphony musicians Leslie Van Becker and Alicia Eppinga in a program of Piazzolla, Mozart, and Schoenfield. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Le introduces his fellow musicians and shares his thoughts on Piazzolla's "Spring," from Four Seasons in Buenos Aires, Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 1, K. 478, and Paul Schoenfield's Café Music. He also shares the news that he and his family are moving to Ohio, where he will be an assistant professor of piano at Kent State University. They will return each summer to direct the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck.


Kalamazoo Kids In Tune

The Kalamazoo Symphony and Kalamazoo Public Schools' after-school music program, Kalamazoo Kids in Tune continues beyond the school year, offering six weeks of summer programming. Artistic director Ben Gudbrandson says it's a time when the skills they built might otherwise get rusty, and just as importantly, kids benefit from the familiar routine of rehearsal and performing. Craig Freeman, a leading brass instructor for KKIT, added a jazz unit to the program this summer, and alongside the orchestra and its chamber ensembles, Kalamazoo Kids in Tune will give two public concerts this week.

On Tuesday, July 16, the orchestra will play at the Portage Public Library at 1 pm - 1:30 pm. On Thursday, July 18, they'll be downtown on the Kalamazoo Mall from 11:45 - 12:15 pm. 


Bob Stesheltz Photography

Tina Truax, an organizer of the Kalamazoo Blues Festival and an 11-year member of the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association, says she became a blues convert as an adult. She went to hear a live band at a club in Grand Rapids, and and as she listened to more and more blues, she realized how much rock & roll and pop music had borrowed from the blues, a music that started as a response to slavery. Truax tells Cara Lieurance that there are signs a new generation is returning to the roots of blues, and the Kalamazoo Blues Festival is a way to hear a range of music from west Michigan, from national acts, and styles that range from New Orleans to Chicago to New York and beyond. It runs Friday and Saturday, July 12 and 13, at the Arcadia Festival Site in dowtown Kalamazoo.


Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck

Summer chamber music concerts have been a tradition in the city of Saugatuck for over 30 years. On Thursday and Friday, July 11 and 12 at 7:30 pm, the Woman's Club of Saugatuck will open its doors for the first program of the season, "A Mighty Handful." Clarinetist Bradley Wong, a Western Michigan University professor and School of Music director, tells Cara Lieurance about the quartets and quintets on the program. He'll be performing alongside long-time festival players Barbara Corbató, Sarah Southard, Gabe Southard, and Paul Austin, as well as newer players Yu-Lien Thé and Haijin Choi.

Wong, who joined the WMU School of music faculty in 1983, plans to retire at the end of the next school year. He says he looks forward to more performing and, equally, attending the wide variety of music concerts available to residents in West Michigan.


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