WMUK Culture

Culture and Happenings from the WMUK Listening area!

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

"Should we shake hands onstage or not?" Jun-Ching Lin remembers the subject coming up with music director Julian Kuerti, prior to a Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra concert on March 6, as the spread of COVID-19 in the US began to increase.  


courtesy of the artist

On Sunday, Aug 16 at 4 pm, Concerts in the Park will go virtual with a live-streamed concert by the Knific Quartet with guest vocalist Rhea Olivaccé. The Knific Quartet features Tom Knific, bassist and professor emeritus of Western Michigan University, Renata Knific, violinist and professor emerita of WMU, Gene Knific, pianist/arranger (Tom and Renata are Gene's parents) and Brad Crossland, drums. The livestream will be hosted by the Arts Council website.


Lori Morgan/lmg.photography

Although COVID-19 has severely restricted in-person music-making, Benje and Ashley Daneman, the founders of the Kalamazoo Music School, have discovered that their long-term community-building efforts have helped sustain their spirits and the school. 

In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, they say that most students made the transition to online instruction successfully.  And they explain what's on for fall: Fresh Air Sessions (jazz groups outdoors), Growing Glockenspiel (for 5-7 year olds), individual lessons online, and group lessons online, among other things. They're also excited to welcome jazz pianist Rufus Ferguson to the role of Director of Community Partnerships. 

When the conversation turns to how musicians are making difficult choices during the pandemic, Benje Daneman discusses Kanola Band's first album of New Orleans-style music. It's ready for release, but can't be supported with a tour, which is how musicians make a return on the album's investment. Ashley Daneman says applying for small business and arts grants has been part of their strategy to weather the shutdown. 

Chris Hartlove

The celebrated American pianist, conductor and teacher Leon Fleisher died Aug 2 at the age of 92. Cara Lieurance asked Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, the executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, to share his thoughts on one of the century's greatest musicians in the world of classical music. Fleisher performed at the Festival several times, notably premiering the Piano Concerto For the Left-Hand by Michigan composer C. Curtis-Smith.


Kalamazoo Children's Chorus

Taylor Gudbrandson, the newly-appointed artistic/executive director of the Kalamazoo Children's Chorus, speaks with Cara Lieurance about her new role and her goals for the 40 year-old organization, which nurtures young singers from elementary through high school with different choirs for several singing levels. She recalls participating in the Chorus while still in high school, and how it offered the stability and artistic challenge she wasn't getting from her school choir. Gudbrandson also pays tribute to Fred Sang, who retired as artistic/executive director in July.


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