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WMUK Culture

Culture and Happenings from the WMUK Listening area! 

Brian K. Powers, courtesy of Encore Magazine

The cover story of the February issue of Encore Magazine went from a short profile proposed by Chris Killian last spring to a nearly 5000 word feature, due to the depth of topics and stories surrounding Michelle Johnson, according to Encore editor Marie Lee.

Colin Howe / Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

At 7 pm on Friday, Jan 29, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra will welcome audiences to its Digital Concert Hall Series by streaming "Fireworks For A New Year," led by music director Julian Kuerti. He joined Cara Lieurance to talk about the joy of performing in-person again (with strict precautions), and the classic pieces that speak to this moment in time.


Jordan Hamilton's 2019 album My Thoughts Are is a collection of original songs covering a wide range of real life experience. Although he doesn't claim the title of activist for himself (he says he would have to work harder to earn it), several of Hamilton's songs anticipated the Black Lives Matter movement's resurgence in 2020. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Hamilton says his journey as a solo artist who accompanies his songs on electric cello and looping technology is based in a musical community that gives him space and brings new ideas and influences into his life. 

courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

At 7 pm on Saturday, Jan 30 the Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latinx classical string players will be held online, and prizes up to $50,000 will be awarded to the three senior and three junior finalists. As president and artistic director Afa Dworkin tells Cara Lieurance, although it's not an in-person competition this year, there will be suspense as the pre-recorded performances are streamed and adjudicated in real time as the finalists look on. For maximum accessibility, it will be a free event, streamed at sphinxmusic.org.

Christina Burton, courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein Office

The centenary of the birth of the great American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein was in 2018. On Oct 20, 2018, the Kalamazoo Concert Band took the stage to honor his legacy, with the help of guest artists the Western Brass Quintet. In this flashback, Dr. Tom Evans, director of the KCB, joins Cara Lieurance to share highlights from a concert in which everything came together for an unforgettable experience.