Michigan Festival of Sacred Music | WMUK

Michigan Festival of Sacred Music

C. Lieurance

A new composition that lasts as long as the drive to Lake Michigan from Kalamazoo. A nature walk with musicians along the trail.  16 new music pieces inspired by art works to be exhibited at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. An installation of sculptures that activate sounds, at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. These are some of the creative ways the Connecting Chords Music Festival is moving forward in an era of COVID-19 cancellations. Cara Lieurance spoke with executive director Elizabeth Start about the events.


Jim Triezenberg, for Kalamazoo Nature Center

The arboretum at the Kalamazoo Nature Center will ring with more than birdsong on Sunday, Sep 13 at 3 pm. Six performers and ensembles, invited by the Connecting Chords Festival, will be stationed at different points along the paths, allowing visitors to wander and listen. The performers are world music percussionist Carolyn Koebel, Ugandan singer/dancer/multi-instrumentalist Samuel Nalangira, the Celtic group Hazeltree, singer/storyteller Sidney Ellis II, Scandinavian duo Norse Code, and the Middle Eastern group Bahar Ensemble. Koebel, Nalangira, and Connecting Chords executive director Elizabeth Start joined Cara Lieurance for a preview.


Schola Antiqua

The "richly intertextual, cross-pollinating "Middle Ages" of Jerusalem" is the inspiration for a concert by Schola Antiqua of Chicago at 4 pm on Sunday, Nov 17 at First Congregational Church, presented by the Connecting Chords Music Festival.  Cara Lieurance talked to managing director Matthew Dean about the upcoming concert and the traditions from which it draws.


Austin Colbert

From Friday, Oct 18 through Sunday, Dec 1, the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music will present the 2019 Connecting Chords Music Festival, a series of 20 events that reveal traditions of faiths around the world. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, festival director Elizabeth Start and performer Carolyn Koebel talk about the master musicians who will be visiting the community to perform, and ways community members can become participants in activities like Taiko drumming, sacred singing, and African drumming and dance. 

Some of the prominent artists include multi-instrumentalist Samite of Uganda, early music group Schola Antiqua, oud master Rahim Alhaj, and Japanese-American Taiko drummer Ken Koshio

In particular, Start and Koebel detail the work of the Tibetan Buddhist Monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery.  From Nov 6 - Nov 10, the monks will create an intricate mandala, or sand-painting. The public can observe its creation from 9 am - 5 pm at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The monks will also offer a concert of song and dance featuring rare instruments and costumes, at 7:30 pm Friday, Nov 8 at Comstock Auditorium.


Detroit Historical Society

Festival favorites Tapestry are returning to the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music's Connecting Chords Music Festival, to perform separate programs on Thursday, Nov 8 and Friday, Nov 9 at 7:30 pm at the First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo. Soprano Christi Catt has been singing with Tapestry since it was created, in 1995, as a vehicle for three female voices to explore centuries of vocal music and traditions. Their programs often blend the new and the ancient, with help from instrumentalist Shira Kammen, who plays the medieval vielle and other instruments. 

Catt talks to Cara Lieurance about Thursday's program, “Lessons of Darkness,” which commemorates the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I. Tapestry will present works of composers affected by the war, and special guest pianist Arsentiy Kharitonov will intersperse the program with selections from Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin.

On Friday, Catt says the program will look skyward, in a program first created to be performed at the famous Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, CA. The program will feature works by Hildegard von Bingen, Alan Hovhanness, Claude Debussy, Patricia Van Ness and more.

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