Miller Auditorium

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.

The North American tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical involves a company of 50 performers, musicians and technicians, six of whom are trained to take on all the roles in the production at a moment's notice. These talented chameleons are called "swings," and Kaylee Harwood joined the company in this capacity around a year-and-a-half ago, as did company manager Ryan Lympus. Harwood and Lympus take us behind the scenes of the tour, which stops at Miller Auditorium until Sunday, March 24.   

Matthew Murphy

The national tour of The Phantom Of The Opera opens Feb 6 at Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo, giving West Michigan audiences their first chance to see a newly-designed, technologically enhanced production of the beloved 1986 musical by Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber. In the studio with Cara Lieurance, star Eva Tavares (Christine Daaé) and resident director Max Quinlan discuss reasons for Phantom's continued popularity, how the new production changes the experience, and how treating the characters as fully human is the key to making the outsize drama real for audiences.

Matthew Murphy

Writer and WMUK theater critic Gordon Bolar highlights West Michigan theater this  winter and spring in a preview with Cara Lieurance. They cover upcoming productions by regional theaters such as Farmers Alley Theatre and the Kalamazoo Civic; the shows coming to Miller Auditorium, smaller companies like Queer Theatre Kalamazoo and What A Do Theatre; the Western Michigan University Theatre and more.

Lance Evans

For the last two years of the national tour, Emily Croome has watched performances of Monty Python's Spamalot from her director's chair in the pit orchestra, where she leads a band of five musicians and cues  the actors and ensemble throughout the show. Spamalot will come to Kalamazoo's Miller Auditorium for four performances this Fri-Sun, on a tour that also takes the company as far as Anchorage, Alaska. 

In a preview of the shows, Croome talks to Cara Lieurance about her life as a music director, and share some of her favorite moments and characters from the production. Spamalot tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on their quest for the Holy Grail. Flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen and show-stopping musical numbers are some of the Tony award-winning musical's hallmarks.