Monday, November 12, 2012

KSO Fall Recital Series: November Recital

The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra presents a free Fall Music Recital this Thursday, November 15, at 7:00 pm at Portage Lake United Church.  This recital's theme--Around the World in 80 Minutes--covers music from many different countries, and includes exciting performances by woodwind quintet, string quartet, flute solo, vocal solo, cello solo, clarinet duet, and classical guitar.

There is no ticket price for the recital, but a $5 donation toward the KSO and PLUC is accepted at the door. There will be a reception after the performance.

Monday, November 5, 2012

October Highlights

The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra kicked off the fall concert season with To Russia, With Love, a program featuring all Russian music.

The Orchestra then left on its first-ever concert tour on October 25 and played at venues in Norway, Marquette, and Escanaba.

Dr. Neves was interviewed on the radio, and the orchestra was featured on TV6 news.
The orchestra had a wonderful experience sharing their music with the rest of the Upper Peninsula.

Tech Theatre started their season off with a bang (and a stabbing or two) with The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.  Students successfully stumped and surprised their audiences with a whodunit that had twists at every turn and turns at every twist, and plenty of secret passages.

Photos from Closing Night
Also in October was the KSO's first recital in their fall recital series.  Something Wicked This Way Comes, a theme fitting for the Halloween season, featured several Tech Students and local musicians singing and playing their own versions of wicked (or just wickedly awesome) music.
Pat Valencia, Tech's guitar instructor, plays a spooky rendition of Koyunbaba by Domeniconi in October's KSO Recital
November has already kicked off around the VPA with a Superior Winds Concert and a film festival.

Much more to come!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 will play October 25-27 in the Rozsa Center.  Tickets are $12.75 and can be purchased by calling 487-2073 or at

"The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is a deceptively intricate work.  I hope the audience will appreciate the play at its rudimentary style of farce.  At the same time, the play will tickle the intellectual funny bone of those patrons who have experienced 1930s musical comedies (theatre and film), 1930s horror films and the likely familiar “who-done-it?”  The characters are stock, but with a quirky combination of melodrama and musical theatre.  The star-crossed lovers of the golden age of musical comedy are also the hero and heroine of the film genre. 

          "In 1940, the U.S. was a spectator of the war in Europe, a society obsessed with the intrigue of espionage and the mounting tension in Germany, relishing in early 20th century fascination with “exotic” Asian culture.  Film and theatre of this era were rich with characters, themes, and plots that removed the audience from the reality of political uncertainty and the horror of impending human atrocities yet to come.  Instead, in traditional theatrical fashion, theatre (and film) depicted human frailty, allowing theatre-goers to laugh at their own fears and weaknesses. "
                                                                               ~Trish Helsel, director

Monday, October 22, 2012

What I Did Last Summer: Kalen Larson

Our VPA Faculty are always up to something great!  Find out what they did with their summer vacations in our What I Did Last Summer series.
Kalen Larson, Assistant Professor of Theatre, served as Production Manager for the Operas of Pine Mountain Music Festival this summer.  This is particularly significant to the Visual & Performing Arts Department because he was able to hire a number of our students to work with the professional design staff and execute all technical work on those productions, including the tour.

Kalen also worked with Hall Associates Flying Effects this past summer.  While working with Hall he gained a much deeper understanding of performer flying effects and was able to bring that knowledge back.  Because of that experience he is currently teaching a Performer Flying class fall semester and the department is able to produce Stealing Fire; a show we are creating that has a significant number of aerial effects.  
Some of the shows/events Kalen worked on aerial effects with Hall include: Chicago Bulls Playoff Game (flying the mascot in the united Center), Peter Pan Ballet with Evansville Ballet, Calgary Stampede.   
In future collaborations he will serve as a Flying Director leading several of Hall's projects.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What I Did Last Summer: Joel Neves

Joel Neves, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra played trumpet this past summer for the Pine Mountain Music Festival.  He was featured with fellow UP trumpeter, Mark Flaherty of NMU, and organist Jeremy Tarant in concerts featuring the historic pipe organs of the Upper Peninsula.

Joel also ran the surtitles for Pine Mountain's opera, Cosi Fan Tutte.  In so doing, he was single handedly responsible for the comprehension of the Italian Opera for hundreds of audience members.  It's a stressful job, but someone has to do it!

Joel served as the search committee chair responsible for hiring the new band director.

He created a new online summer school course studying the music of the Beatles and the Beach Boys.  Together with his students, he discovered the surprising concession that the Beach Boys are just as good, innovative, forward-looking, and interesting as the Beatles! 

Finally, he and his family took an epic 26-day vacation, which included a cross-country drive, many campgrounds, and a cruise to Alaska.  On this epic vacation, Joel discovered that his new favorite state is South Dakota.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

KSO to present all-Russian concert

Bathe in the luxurious beauty of Russian exoticism as the KSO performs works by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Shostakovich. From the graceful ballet music of Sleeping Beauty, and the oriental mysticism of the legend of Antar, to the infamous symphony banned by Stalin because of its "ideological weakness," this epic concert—which launches the KSO's first concert tour of the U.P.—promises to inspire and entertain.

 October 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm 
Rozsa Center for the Arts

Ticket price: $18.00
Free with Tech Experience

Tickets may be purchased at or by calling 487-3200

Thursday, October 4, 2012

KSO Fall Recital Series Begins Tomorrow

The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra presents a free Fall Music Recital on Friday, October 5, at 7:00 pm at Portage Lake United Church. This year's theme—Something Wicked This Way Comes—invites some dramatic music, including performances by woodwind quartet, unaccompanied trombone and flute, vocal solos, clarinet/organ duet, and classical six-string guitar.

There is no ticket price for the recital, but a $5 donation toward the KSO and PLUC is accepted at the door. There will be a nice reception after the performance.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Stealing Fire Auditions

Performer and Flying Operator Auditions for Stealing Fire are happening now, auditions are open to everyone.

Audition to be a performer or flying operator by attending both a dance clinic and an audition.

Dance Clinics:
Monday October 1, 8:00-10:00p in Choir room Rozsa 120
Friday October 5, 8:00-10:00p in McArdle Theatre Walker 207

Monday October 8, 8:00-10:00p in Choir room Rozsa 12

Friday October 12, 8:00-10:00p in McArdle Theatre Walker 207

Stealing Fire
February 7-9 and 14-16, McArdle Theatre
With a spark of life from Zeus Prometheus shapes the beasts of the world out of clay. Growing bored with his chore he endows the last of his creations, people, with a little extra spark. Maybe a bit more than intended. And thus human, titan, and god all find more than they can really cope with. Prometheus and Zeus, unlikely parents, struggle with love, infatuation, fear and much infuriation with their creation. Humanity grows, often barely skirting extinction, being shaped as much by accidents as plans, often relying on tricks to push forward and escape the boring monotony of immortals.

Director: Christopher Plummer
Choreographer: Mary Muncil
Flying Director: Kalen Larson
Stage Manager: Sarah Karsten

What I Did Last Summer: Jared Anderson

Our VPA Faculty are always up to something great!  Find out what they did with their summer vacations in our What I Did Last Summer series.

In June, Jared Anderson, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities attended the Chorus America Conference in Minneapolis.  He also attended the ACDA National Symposium on American Choral Music in Washington, D.C. where he presented a poster entitled: "Reflections on the Water: Dominick Argento's Walden Pond."

In August, he performed as the tenor soloist in a Gilbert and Sullivan Revue Concert--part of the Mostly Thursdays Concert Series in Bayfield, WI.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I Did Last Summer: Roger Held

Our VPA Faculty are always up to something great!  Find out what they did with their summer vacations in our What I Did Last Summer series.

 Roger Held, Department Chair and Professor of Theatre presented four hours of workshops for the Directors Lab Chicago. The Lab accepts applications from directors across the country and abroad. Those selected for attendance meet for a week during August.  Roger conducted workshops in self appraisal as it impacts script interpretation and working relationships. 

The twenty-seven members of the Lab worked their way through a selection of testing instruments designed to increase awareness of predispositions and learned values and attitudes which influence textual analysis. They were then asked to interpret a text and respond to a series of questions which allowed a discussion of the influences on their thinking.  The point of the exercise is to help stage directors become biased to how they see the play script and then develop a less biased perspective from which to develop a production concept.  

Roger also created a virtual office, reducing all the paper to half a file drawer and converted his old office into a seminar room.  He now works wirelessly from home, the conference room, and the theatre lobby.  In addition, Roger worked with Sue Hill on developing a Professional Website which should be open to the public by the end of September. 

He also got in some backpacking adventures. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What I Did Last Summer: Mike Christianson

Our VPA Faculty are always up to something great!  Find out what they did with their summer vacations in our What I Did Last Summer series.

We are excited to welcome Michael Christianson as Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of Bands to the VPA this year.  Judging from his summer activities, he will be a fabulous asset to our department.

This summer, Mike
  • Created and led (playing sousaphone) a New-Orleans style jazz marching band for the May Day March in New York City.
  • Walked in the Rutgers University commencement with his oldest son!  (Mike received his DMA,  his son received his BM.)
  • Conducted the Brass Ensemble for the 15th consecutive year for the Commencement Ceremony at the Cooper Union School in NYC.
  • Got the Director of Bands job at MTU!!!!
  • Moved to the UP.
  • Performed in Denver with the Pittsburgh Collective, a jazz band led by composer David Sanford.
  • Played on and conducted for a new recording for singer Ray Hoffman in NYC.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What I Did Last Summer: Patricia Helsel

Our VPA Faculty are always up to something great!  Find out what they did with their summer vacations in our What I Did Last Summer series.

Photo by Joe Kirkish
Patricia Helsel, Assistant Professor of Theatre, attended the Voice and Speech Trainers Association national conference at George Washington University, in Washington, DC.  She will be applying many of the techniques and pedagogical approaches she learned to all of her classes. 

She submitted an article for publication to Teaching Theatre, a national journal for theatre educators.  Everyone knows that if they take part in a show she is directing, or in the Acting I class, they will engage in ball playing. Over the last few years she has developed exercises and games that integrate ball-play as a device to: strengthen concentration; build group cohesion; create awareness of physical space and movement; promote physical strength and flexibility; serve as a visual representation of energy.  All this with a 9" latex ball!
Trish and her students play ball!
Photo by Mark Riutta, 
This summer also saw the launching of Trish's voiceover recording business,  She is working with The Marketing Department to promote the business locally and nationally.  Her most recent client is the Philips-MedSage company.  She voices healthcare surveys for patients who use medical equipment in their homes.  She also completed a voiceover for the Michigan Public Health Institute recording a 50 minute learning module on Newborn Screening for healthcare professionals.

She was in the Pine Mountain Opera Chorus, singing among the Keweenaw's finest! 

She also began compiling media for future implementation of an online course in American Musical Theatre.