WMUK Culture

Jon Reeves

Silent Sky is the story of real-life astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, who worked at the Harvard College Observatory from 1898 until her death in 1921. In Lauren Gunderson's play, we learn about her work, the work of  her fellow female astronomers (called "computers"), and the significant discoveries she made. Leavitt was not the first woman to join the observatory staff - that was Willamena Fleming, the Scottish-born housekeeper of the observatory's director. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, actors Aly Homminga (Henrietta Leavitt) and Milan Levy (Willamena Fleming) talk about their roles in the upcoming production at Kalamazoo College, along with director Ren Berthel. 

Silent Sky runs Feb 27 - Mar 1 at the Kalamazoo College Festival Playhouse. Tickets and more information available at the playhouse website

courtesy photo

Our Lady's Consort is an undergraduate choir at the University of Notre Dame. On Friday, Feb 21 at 7 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo, the group will perform on the Sacred Music at the Cathedral series. The first half of the free program will be sung in Latin; the second, in English. Cara Lieurance talks to Howard Eckdahl, the doctoral student music director of Our Lady's Consort, for a preview.

courtesy of the artist

Western Michigan University's Live and Interactive series continues at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Feb 19 with a performance by guest artist John Wesley Wright. A tenor who can switch between opera, Broadway, and American styles, he will be joined by WMU voice faculty and student ensembles for a concert called Spirituals: From Ship To Shore

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, also including Dr. Ken Prewitt, a professor of voice at WMU, Wright talks about working with Western students in his residency, and teaching them to perform spirituals without sheet music. Wright and Prewitt preview some of the concert's highlights, and Wright talks about how his desire to be a performer began in childhood, when he saw the television series Fame. A member of the American Spiritual Ensemble for 14 years, he credits Ysaÿe Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock and singer Linda Tillery as personal and professional influences.

Amanda Tipton Photography

Edward Dusinberre is the first violinist of the Takács Quartet, which will perform on the Fontana series at 7:30 pm on Friday, Feb 21 in the Dalton Center Recital Hall at Western Michigan University. He's also the author of Beethoven For A Later Age: Living With The String Quartets. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Dusinberre previews the three works on the program, including Fanny Mendelssohn's String Quartet in E-flat, a dramatic Romantic-era work, and one of her best. She was denied a path forward as a musician by her father and brother, says Dusinberre, it being highly inappropriate at the time for a woman to seek recognition for composing.

Established in 1975 by four students at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, the U.S.-based group is celebrating 45 years of exceptional music-making. 

Sue Langford, via flickr. All Creative Commons license.

Rick Phelps will lead a a concert called "Showstoppers" at 7 pm on Saturday, Feb 22 at Comstock Community Auditorium. The director of the Kalamazoo Singers spoke with Cara Lieurance about what a showstopper can be, and how members of the choir auditioned to perform solos and group numbers from musicals like The Greatest Showman, The Lion King, Les Miserables, Hairspray, Guys and Dolls and others.