Michigan Festival of Sacred Music announces full lineup for 2013
KALAMAZOO — From the opening concert — the Sound and Spirit of Kalamazoo — to the festival’s conclusion — the Earth Music of Paul Winter Consort — the wide range of musical styles, international influences and faiths represented is unmistakable. This is the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music.
This year a series of collaborations between the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music and groups from across Kalamazoo offers festival-goers a unique opportunity to hear music from across the world and from across town. In a series of both ticketed and free events, the Festival gives its audiences a chance to learn more about the cultures of India, Russia, Turkey and the Middle East.
“We are broadening the understanding of our work this year by asking, ‘What’s sacred to you?’ to help people realize the breadth of our mission,” said Elizabeth Start, Michigan Festival of Sacred Music Executive Director. “Many people’s answers might include ‘the environment’ and ‘human dignity.’ These are the common threads that we find in all faiths and thus are also part of the fabric of our festival.”
The 2013 festival also is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Wen Chao Chen, one of the founders of the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, who died in 2012. The Michigan Festival of Sacred Music was his brainchild and he served as a valuable consultant for the Festival until his death. He was a master at bringing together community in common efforts and today the Festival strives to carry on in that spirit.
The event spans 10 days and multiple events are scheduled on three of those days. Tickets are $25 for the Paul Winter Consort and $5 for students. For the five other ticketed events admission is $20, or $5 for students. Festival passes are $115.
Fringe events include educational opportunities and special fundraising events.
Here is the full 2013 Festival lineup.
It all begins Nov. 7 with the Sound & Spirit of Kalamazoo, a program that samples the work of area musicians representing diverse faiths. Highlights include Bell Book & Canto, organist Robert Jordan, Michigan Hiryu Daiko/Flying Dragon Drummers, Borgess Resounding Spirit Choir, dancer Carmen Chamochumbi, Sikh musicians Rajwinder Kaur (baja and vocalist) and Gaggan Singh (tabla), and a Taize duo with Carolyn Koebel and Elizabeth Patterson. The 7 p.m. performance is at First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo, 315 W. Michigan. (Free)
A collaboration with St. Augustine’s “Sacred Music at the Cathedral” series presents Scott Montgomery, an acclaimed, prize-winning organist, sought after for organ dedications, national conventions and programs in concert halls and churches across the United States. He performs in concert at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at St. Augustine’s at 542 W. Michigan Ave. and presents a masterclass there at 10 a.m. Nov. 9. (Free)
The Native American group Sons of the Three Fires will be at the Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St., the afternoon of Nov. 9. They will present two short, family-friendly performances at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in a program offered in collaboration with the library. Both programs will feature a Grand Entry, with a Welcome Song by Sons of the Three Fires, a Veterans Song in honor of those who have served our nation, Inter-Tribal or friendship dances as well as specialty dances such as the Crow Hop, Buffalo Dance, Two-Step, and more, including the Hoop Dance featuring young award-winning dancer Mary Bush. (Free)
The spotlight turns to India Nov. 9 for Chattur: Sacred Indian Music and Dance Quartet. Meaning “four” in Sanskrit, Chattur is a novel music and dance quartet drawing from the ancient and sacred classical traditions of India. The ensemble blends the two most popular pitched drums from South and North India, the mridangam and tabla, respectively, with the timeless bamboo flute and rich bharatanatyam dance form. The evening features Kalamazoo native and mridangam expert Rohan Krishnamurthy. He appears with renowned tabla virtuoso Samir Chatterjee, flutist Raman, and dancer Mallini Srinivasan. Krishnamurthy, recognized as a percussion prodigy on the South Indian drum, has been touring since age 9. He earned two bachelor’s degrees from Kalamazoo College, two Master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music, and completed his Ph.D. in musicology at Eastman. He has spearheaded new cross-musical collaborations with eminent symphony orchestras, jazz ensembles, dancers and distinguished musicians including Grammy Award-winners. Chatterjee travels widely across the world performing in numerous festivals as a soloist or with other outstanding musicians from both Indian and non-Indian musical traditions. He also performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway in 2007. V.K. Raman, one of the leading flutists in the Carnatic style of music, started learning flute at the age of 9 and at the age of 15 he started giving full-fledged concerts with many prestigious organizations in India and abroad. Malini Srinivasan is a third-generation bharatanatyam choreographer, dancer and teacher. Chatur: Sacred Indian Music and Dance Quartet makes its MFSM appearance at 8 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan. (Ticketed)
Nov. 10 is a big day for the festival with two major concerts. Illinois-based choral ensemble Cor Cantiamo premieres Daniel Knaggs’ new work commissioned by the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music and the Briner Lectureship of First Presbyterian Church. “Hear My Voice,” will be presented under the direction of conductor Eric A. Johnson, who thrilled an audience in the off-festival year with a choral group he leads from Northern Illinois University. The group performing this year, Cor Cantiamo, was founded in the spring of 2009 to present contemporary choral music and foster the work of new composers. All of the members of this choir are professional musicians living in the Chicago area and nearly all are alumni of the NIU Choral Program. The performance is at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St. (Ticketed)
Cor Cantiamo also will present a workshop with composer Daniel Knaggs, in preparation for the premiere of his new work commissioned for the 2013 festival. This workshop at 4 p.m. Nov. 9 and Sunday’s premiere concert by Cor Cantiamo are co-sponsored by First Presbyterian Church’s Briner Lectureship, which is celebrating its 20th year. (Free)
Knaggs, a native of southeast Michigan, presently pursuing doctoral work at Rice University, is a concert composer who works in a wide range of media and styles. He has lived in France, Mexico and Nicaragua. Many aspects of these diverse cultures and languages find their way into his music. His music is heard in concert halls, churches and radio broadcasts in both Europe and the Americas. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Poland, Italy, Lithuania, and the U.K. This summer Knagg’s “Delusions of Charles the Bold” received its world premiere performance by the Mexico City Philharmonic.
In the second big performance of the day, African American Jewish gospel singer Joshua Nelson appears at 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at at the Congregation of Moses, 2501 Stadium Drive. Nelson recently has been named one of Time magazine’s top 10 Jewish music stars. When he was 8, Joshua Nelson discovered an album by Mahalia Jackson, the Queen of Gospel, in his grandparents’ record collection, and he fell in love with her singing. During his teens and early 20s, he became widely celebrated as a gospel singer. Born and raised Jewish, he continued his studies of Judaism, including two years on a college and kibbutz program in Israel. There he clarified his understanding that throughout history, Jews have always integrated Jewish law and religious practices with the cultural context in which they lived; for example, as Nelson points out, any ethnic style of cuisine can be Jewish if it is kosher. Upon his return from Israel, Nelson began to apply this understanding to music, beginning what has been called “a revolution in Jewish music” by combining Jewish liturgical lyrics with one of America’s best-known indigenous musical forms; thus kosher gospel music was born. For Nelson, kosher gospel is a way to claim both parts of his identity as a Black Jew. His appearance is co-sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan with support, in part, from the Ravitz Foundation and the Congregation of Moses. (Ticketed)
Monday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. Joseph and Grace Byrd present Guided Meditations, a mixture of music and reflections, co-sponsored by Zion Lutheran Church, 2122 Bronson Blvd., where the event will take place. The Byrds, in a program they call “From Words to Wordlessness” lead participants through a mystical terrain, including images from William Blake’s oeuvre, stories from their work with Shakespeare Behind Bars, and meditative exercises on the structure and substance of the music of Vaughan Williams, John Beall, and Arvo Part. (Free)
The Michigan Festival of Sacred Music collaborates with the Turkish American Society of Michigan to present Turkish musicians and whirling dervishes at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Holy Family Chapel, Nazareth, 3427 Gull Road, Konya Turkish Tasawwuf Music Ensemble was established in 1991 to commemorate Rumi, distribute Rumi’s thoughts on love, his tolerance to the world, and to present the whirling dervish ceremony. The ensemble never changes its traditional style and protects the form of the dance. The group interprets religious music such as divine music and blessing music. The ensemble has given numerous concerts in nearly 50 countries. The evening at Holy Family Chapel ends with Turkish coffee. (Free)
Ugandan musician Samite, a music therapist who has worked with child soldiers, among others, was born and raised in Uganda, where his grandfather taught him to play the traditional flute. When he was 12, a music teacher placed a Western flute in his hands, setting him on his way to becoming one of East Africa’s most acclaimed flutists. He performed frequently to enthusiastic audiences throughout Uganda until 1982, when he was forced to flee to Kenya as a political refugee. Samite immigrated to the United States in 1987, and now he and his wife Sandra make their home in Ithaca, N.Y. Today his smooth vocals accompanied by the kalimba, marimba, litungu, and various flutes draw audiences throughout the world. Samite has released eight CDs internationally. He appears at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S Rose St. in collaboration with their Wednesday night concert series. (Free)
The Southwest Michigan Taize Collective with guest artist Elden Kelly presents a multi-faith, nature-themed Taize program at 7 p.m. with a pre-concert instrument petting zoo at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 14, at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave. The program that also features local favorite Carolyn Koebel will include music, songs, chants, and meditations from a host of the world’s most beloved spiritual traditions, with an underlying theme of the natural world. The Southwest Michigan Taize Collective came together nearly three years ago out of a shared interest in multi-cultural, inter-faith ministry. Group members combine broad interests in traditional musics of the world, as well as a broad palette of instruments, sounds and timbres reflective of diverse cultural traditions. (Free)
Russian Choir Golosa returns to the Festival in a collaboration with Kalamazoo’s Russian Festival at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The group, which is always very well-received in its Kalamazoo appearances, performs music that comes from songs heard in the earliest years of the 20th century in villages throughout Russia, and those songs in turn were the latest incarnation of music many years older still. The group sings sacred and secular Russian folk songs in a mixed-voice a capella ensemble, and performs all year long throughout the Chicago area and beyond. Golosa strives to preserve the music and culture of the Siberian Old Believers and of Russian folksinging in general. (Ticketed)
On Nov. 16, clarinetist James Falzone performs a clarinet meditation program at 3 p.m. at Holy Family Chapel. Falzone last appeared in Kalamazoo as part of the Le Bon Vent program in 2011. “Sighs Too Deep For Words” uses the words of St. Paul as the starting place for an exploration of mindfulness and contemplative practice through sound. It incorporates clarinets, ritual bells, shruti box, and percussion. The work has been performed by Falzone in the United States, Canada and Europe.
James Falzone’s ensemble Allos Musica will present repertoire from the Middle East, Andalusia and Brittany, and Falzone’s original compositions, many newly composed especially for the 2013 Michigan Festival of Sacred Music. The concert incorporates wind, string, and percussion instruments from around the globe. The ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. Nov. 16 at Holy Family Chapel at Nazareth, 3427 Gull Road. (Ticketed)
The Paul Winter Consort performance at Chenery Auditorium brings the festival to a close on a high note. Winter is known for Earth music that celebrates the Grand Canyon, the old-growth forest of the nation’s Northwest, the ocean, the moon and the sun, and annual, well-known solstice celebrations. He brings the songs of the spotted owl, the timber wolf and the humpback whale into his works. His many awards from environmental, animal and humanitarian organizations make him a perfect artist to culminate the 2013 festival. His appearance is possible this year through a collaboration with the Kalamazoo Nature Center. The concert will be at 3 p.m. Nov. 17 at Chenery Auditorium. (Ticketed)
About the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music
The Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, founded in 2000, is a nonprofit corporation supported by individual and business donations and numerous grants, including those from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, Arts Midwest, Burdick-Thorne Foundation, Discover Kalamazoo, Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation, Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation.