Local Music

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

courtesy of the artist

Kevin Cole is a friend of a friend of George Gershwin. Several friends, in fact. Prior to his appearance with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Cole tells Cara Lieurance that as a teenager growing up in Bay City, Michigan, he introduced himself to Gershwin's friend and biographer, Edward Jablonski.

C. Lieurance

A group of prominent local musicians will gather to present a program called "The Reason Why We Sing: A Free Lecture-Recital Advocating for the Recognition and Inclusion of Black-American Sacred Music" at 2 pm on Saturday, Oct 26 at Portage United Church of Christ. It was the idea of Monica Washington Padula, who grew up performing in her Lansing church from the age of 7. Washington Padula has a master's degree in music from Western Michigan University and is a versatile performer of keyboard, saxophone, and voice.

Along with requesting participation from singers Rhea Olivacce and Carmen Bell, pianist Rufus Ferguson and the Lansing-based Earl Nelson Singers, Washington Padula reached out to Dr. Romeo Philips, the respected Kalamazoo College professor emeritus of music and education. Now 91, he remembers hearing stories from his great-grandmother, who had been enslaved on a Mississippi plantation. A trumpet player before his academic career, Dr. Phillips became interested in the sacred music of Black America by attending choral concerts presented by black colleges that visited his Chicago hometown. Later, he joined the Umbrian Glee Club, and the National Association of Negro Musicians. When he received a professorship at Kalamazoo College in 1968, he and his colleague Clarence Small, who formerly sang with Wings Over Jordan, founded the Afro-American Chorale.

In the Takeda studio at WMUK, Washington Padula and Phillips perform several examples of spirituals, including "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," "Wade in the Water," "I'm Gonna Tell God All of my Troubles," "Give Me Jesus," and "No More Auction Block For Me." The significance of Black American sacred music to American culture cannot be overstated, according to Washington Padula. She explains that the preservation of this music, which has come close to being lost and forgotten at times, requires as much care and attention today as before. But Padula Washington and Phillips agree that the music has always adapted to the times and informed and reflected other Black American styles that came along. Phillips says that in the beginning, spirituals were sung for three main purposes: for worship, for emotional support, and for signals to escape enslavement. All will be demonstrated at the event on Oct 26. 


Gus Cantavero

Western Michigan University's Jazz Masters Series will present one of the foremost jazz bassists of today at 7:30 pm Thursday, Oct 24 in the Dalton Center Recital Hall, in a concert that will also feature student jazz ensembles and the Western Jazz Collective, a faculty group.  John Patitucci has united different worlds from the beginning, as a musician who splits his time between instruments (the electric and acoustic bass), coasts (raised in Brooklyn, NY and California) and music (jazz, pop, classical, African, Latin and more). In a conversation with Cara Lieurance and WMU professor of drums Keith Hall, Patitucci speaks in depth about the meaning of music, its power of communication, and the higher purpose it can serve in the world. 


einprosit.us

The colorful German band "that only plays happy music" will fill the sanctuary at Milwood United Methodist Church at 3 pm on Sunday, Oct 27 for a free concert of German songs and dance music, as well as Alphorn music. Ein Prosit German Band founders Chris and John Griffith and trumpeter/emcee Bill Johnson join Cara Lieurance to talk about the band's busy season during Oktoberfest, and the centuries-old traditions they draw from. We also hear from Carl Doubleday, director of the Milwood Series, about the concerts they present.


©Giorgia Bertazzi

Violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist-conductor Lars Vogt, both acclaimed German classical musicians, will appear on the first concert of the Fontana series at 7:30 pm Saturday, Oct 26 at the Joliffe Theatre, Epic Center, Kalamazoo. In a phone interview with Cara Lieurance, Tetzlaff touches on his concert schedule and the works on his program, which includes "uplifting" sonatas in A major by Beethoven and Franck, and the "despairing" Sonata Op 134 by Dmitri Shostakovich. Tetlzaff says, "Music has to be a mirror of what can happen in life." 

Fontana's artistic and executive director David Baldwin also joins Lieurance to talk about the Tetlzaff-Vogt recital and the upcoming season.


Pages