Daniel Wanschura

Arts & Culture Reporter/Producer

Ever since he was young, Dan has been fascinated with radio. From hearing the dulcet tones of John Gordon broadcast Minnesota Twins games, to staying up late listening to radio theater, he was captivated by the imaginative medium. 

In 2012, Dan graduated from Thomas Edison State College with a BA in Communications. In 2015, he moved from the Twin Cities to northern Michigan, to cover arts and culture at Interlochen Public Radio.

During his time at IPR, he’s produced a weekly arts and culture segment called, “The Green Room.” In 2016, Dan won a PRNDI award for his story, “Opera: relevant or outdated?” In 2017, his story about a polo club in northern Michigan earned him a Edward R. Murrow regional award. His work has also been heard on NPR, Minnesota Public Radio, Michigan Radio, and KFAI Radio.

Dan enjoys playing softball, driving on Michigan’s renown M-22 highway, and volunteering as a leader in Grand Traverse Young Life. He is also a lover of the Oxford comma— much to the chagrin of his editors.

He loves setting sound-rich scenes in his radio journalism, so naturally, a couple of his favorite stories include the time he accompanied photographers shooting a Lake Michigan storm, and when he visited award-winning cheesemakers. Another favorite was telling the story of how theater has helped a vet with PTSD.

Big Samir (left) and Aja Black (right) of The Reminders in studio with DJ Man-o-Wax.
Antar Hanif - iAMSHOOTER.COM

Aja Black says that misogyny and violence often show up in hip-hop music. But she believes the reason we have that subject matter in the music is because it’s reflective of our current culture.

“So, what we’re trying to do with our hip-hop music is just show that there’s a perspective that’s not being put into the mainstream media that’s positive and encouraging,” explains Black. “Inviting people to get along with one another and to love one another.”

Black and her husband Big Samir form the hip-hop group The Reminders. The group is in Traverse City performing as a part of Caravansarai. It’s a tour bringing Muslim-American performers to different parts of the country to share contemporary creative expressions.

Interlochen Center for the Arts was founded through the vision of Joseph Maddy. Today marks the 50th anniversary of his passing.
Interlochen Center for the Arts

Today, April 18, 2016, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the passing of Joe Maddy— the founder of Interlochen Center for the Arts. Maddy passed away on this day in 1966 at the age of 74.

Joe Maddy was born in Wellington, Kansas in 1891. He grew up playing in string quartets, but wanted to learn more about playing the violin and viola. He quit school after eighth grade to pursue his musical passion.

Then, in the late 1920’s, Joe Maddy was asked to form a national high school orchestra, for the Music Supervisors National Conference in Dallas. 

  

Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro will be part of the Young Americans focus during the 2016 Interlochen Arts Festival.
Jake Shimabukuro

Huey Lewis and the News, Martina McBride, and Jay Leno are some of the bigger names coming to Interlochen this summer.

The 2016 Interlochen Arts Festival lineup was announced today.

In addition to some of the more widely recognized names, this year's festival also showcases some of America's next generation of artists. Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, who's from Hawaii, will be making an appearance as will Detroit poet Danez Smith.

Natalie Douglas is an award-winning cabaret singer from New York, and is out with a new album.
Natalie Douglas

If you have your portrait hanging on the Birdland Jazz Club Wall of Fame, you’re kind of a big deal.

Natalie Douglas is an award-winning singer who has her picture hanging in the legendary New York City establishment, and yes, she’s a big deal in the world of cabaret. 

Earlier this year, she released a new album, Human Heart.

Natalie Douglas says creating an album using classic, cabaret songs, was pretty straightforward for her.

"Selecting songs for the cd was really easy," explains Douglas. "They're 12 songs I truly love and that I wanted to sing and do in this way."

Mei Stone will perform with 'The President's Own' United States Marine Band, this Sunday in Washington, D.C.
Dan Wanschura

This time of year can be an especially busy time for seniors in high school. There are all kinds of things going on — exams, dances, senior skip days, college applications and so on.

It’s even more hectic when you’re a top-notch young musician like Mei Stone, a senior studying flute performance at Interlochen Arts Academy. 


April Fool's Day likely originated in the Netherland's at the beginning of the 16th century.
Yanik Chauvin / istockphoto.com

One of the better April Fool’s Day pranks in recent memory happened right here in Michigan just a couple years ago. A group of seven students at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids decided to prank their economics professor. Turns out, the professor had a policy about cell phones in the classroom— if your phone rang during class, you had to answer the call on speaker phone in front of everybody.

Taylor Nefcy was a theater major at Aquinas, and she came up with the idea of using that rule to her advantage in creating a prank. 

Traverse City jumped 10 spots in the second annual Arts Vibrancy Index, released by Southern Methodist University.
marada / Flickr

Traverse City is once again ranked among the country’s most vibrant arts communities.

The second annual Arts Vibrancy Index released by Southern Methodist University, puts the northern Michigan city at number 10 on the list among small to mid-sized communities.

That’s a 10 spot jump in ranking. The same study ranked Traverse City 20th on the last year’s list.

Penny (left) and Radel Rosin of Oh Brother Big Sister are out with their first original album.
Dan Wanschura

Just a couple years ago, Penny and Radel Rosin were performing in separate bands. The two siblings from Grayling, Michigan had grown up in a musical family and had gotten used to the performance life at an early age. But, being in a band with multiple members and schedules can be difficult to coordinate at times. That was a big reason why Radel eventually approached Penny about creating their own music act.

“Yeah, Del just pretty much just called me up and he said, ‘We’re going to start a duo, and we’re going to call it Oh Brother Big Sister,’” Penny recalls. “And I said, ‘Alright, sounds good.’”

Shannon Cason, a storyteller from Detroit, shares a personal narrative with the Front Street Writers on Thursday.
Anne Stanton

Tonight, The Moth Mainstage will be performed before a sold-out crowd in Traverse City. But yesterday, a few storytellers from The Moth did a workshop with a classroom of about 25 high school students. 

They talked about how storytelling builds community and helps people reflect on their own lives.

Shannon Cason is from Detroit. He says growing up, he always loved playing games. But, when he got older his love for games got him in trouble with gambling.

Jay Allison is an award-winning independent broadcast journalist. He produces 'The Moth Radio Hour.'
dancutrona.com

Imagine several raconteurs relaxing on a front porch swapping true tales on a warm summer night in Georgia. There's probably plenty of iced tea, maybe a few cans of beer, and the occasional fluttering of a moth's wings can be heard as it flies to the cozy glow of the porch light.

Those laid-back, informal gatherings eventually gave rise to The Moth storytelling events, which are now held around the world. The format remains simple — live stories told by everyday people without notes. The show stops in Traverse City on Friday night at the City Opera House.

'American Dad!' creative designer Jim Feeley shows off his rough sketch IPR's Kate Botello.
Dan Wanschura

Jim Feeley has always liked to paint, draw and doodle. But once he graduated from high school, art school wasn’t even anywhere on his horizon. He enrolled at Boston College and graduated with an English Literature degree. He didn't really think that his hobby would be a viable career.

Eventually, he moved across country to Los Angeles and worked for Film Roman— the studio responsible for shows like The Simpsons and King of the Hill. Once a week the studio would host a free drawing workshop. Even though Jim was working in production, he decided to give the workshop a try.

Longtime Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell.
mwlguide via Wikimedia Commons

Spring is in the air! 

Or, at least Spring Training is in the air.

Before the first pitch, baseball fans expect to hear the national anthem performed by countless individuals throughout the long season.

Dave Dunckel says he played the role of the tough Army guy during his 15-month deployment to Iraq.
Dave Dunckel

Command Sgt. Maj. Dave Dunckel had many different jobs during his 25-year career in the Army. But in the spring of 2006 the Army asked him to do something that changed his life. 

They asked him to notify a family in Eagle, Michigan, that their 19-year-old son had been killed in Iraq. 

“It was horrible,” he says.

As he drove home that night, the 48-year-old Dunckel decided he couldn’t go back to a desk job in the Army. He resigned his position, and volunteered for an individual deployment. 

 


The 88th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Sunday evening.
Davidlohr Bueso / flickr

Meg Weichman doesn’t get to vote in the Oscars. But the creative director for the Traverse City Film Fest still has plenty of hot takes on the 88th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday.

This year, eight films were nominated for Best Picture. Out of those eight, Meg says three really separate themselves from he rest of the group: The Revenant, Spotlight and The Big Short.

 


Mucca Pazza brings its show to Interlochen on Saturday.
Mucca Pazza

It’s kind of difficult to explain exactly what Mucca Pazza is. Even it’s own members have trouble describing the group at times.

To some, Mucca Pazza is a marching band that doesn’t march. Others say it’s a marching band that thinks it’s a rock n’ roll band. 

Whatever description fits best, Mucca Pazza is a group of about 30 self-described misfits who missed the days of high school band, theater and cheer. And so, they came up with their own group.

On Saturday, Interlochen Center for the Arts will be hosting a free Mucca Pazza performance, as part of the annual Winterlochen festivities.

Joan Richmond in her studio near the Grand Traverse Commons.
Dan Wanschura

In the early nineteenth century, artists spent almost all their time inside studios. Instead of going outside, artists would usually sketch and paint from existing sketchings and paintings. 

The goal wasn’t to paint as realistically as possible, but as beautifully as possible. 

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was different. He started taking his paint outside.

Traverse City-based artist Joan Richmond says Corot was an important link in leaving behind the idealized world in painting.   

Mixtapes can be the perfect way to say, "I love you."
Leah Tihia/via Flickr

Hopefully you're aware of this by now, but Sunday is Valentine’s Day. 

If you’re in love with someone special, you might expect to get some roses, perhaps some chocolates, maybe even a diamond necklace. And pretty much the only thing that could ever possibly top some bling on V-Day would be a handpicked mixtape from the love of your life, right?


Gustavo Dudamel will be leading the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles in a performance during this year's Super Bowl halftime show.
Courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic

This Sunday, more than 100 million people will watch Super Bowl 50.

By now, you might have heard that Coldplay will perform with Beyoncé - and possibly Bruno Mars - during the halftime show. What you might not have heard is that, for part of the show, classical conductor Gustavo Dudamel will lead the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles.


Missy Elliott (left) joined Katy Perry during the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images Sport

More than 120 million people are expected to tune in to Super Bowl 50 this Sunday in San Francisco. 

But it’s not just the football game that glues so many people to their television sets on Super Bowl Sunday - it’s also the commercials and the celebrity-laden halftime show. 

When did the Super Bowl halftime show become such a huge cultural event? 

A shot from John Bresland's video essay entitled, 'Watch My Feet.'
John Bresland

A picture is worth a thousand words.

We’ve all heard that adage, right? Now, many writers are starting to realize the value of images and have begun incorporating them into their work. It's spawned a new form of creative writing, called the video essay. 


John Robert Williams converted an old elementary school gym into his new studio.
John Robert Williams Photography

John Robert Williams is a photographer with an eye for potential. 

When he moved out of his downtown Traverse City studio last year, and into an old elementary school gymnasium, he began dreaming of all the different ways he could use the space. Where most people would probably see a big, mostly empty room, Williams sees a studio full of potential.

“I lie awake at night thinking of cool new things and shots I can do,” says Williams.


Members of the chorus gossip about Medea's fate during a recent rehearsal.
Parallel 45 Theatre

Parallel 45 Theatre company is out with a fresh take on the ancient Greek tragedy Medea.
Throughout their advertising campaign, the company has been comparing what it meant to be a celebrity during Medea's day, versus what it means today, with the likes of Kim Kardashian and Lindsey Lohan.
Is it determined by the history books, or trends on Twitter?

Chic Gamine is performing in Traverse City on Friday.
Chic Gamine

The Canadian band Chic Gamine became popular for their stripped-down, almost a cappella style. Back in 2007 when the group formed, they consisted of four female vocalists and a drummer— and that was it. Almost immediately, the band started touring, and quickly became popular with audiences. 


The music world lost two legendary figures recently: composer and conductor Pierre Boulez and rock star David Bowie. 

Bowie lost his battle with cancer at age 69— just three days after releasing his latest album Blackstar. Pierre Boulez, while perhaps less of a household name, was a giant in the classical music world. He passed away last week at age 90. 

While drastically different in certain senses, these two artists shattered the perceptions of their musical genres, and took creative risk-taking to another level.


One of the unique things about Interlochen Public Radio is that the people who work here are often full of surprises. Take, for example, Classical IPR host Amanda Sewell.

Amanda is a musicologist and has studied plenty of traditional classical music from the likes of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. But, she’s also published academic studies on hip-hop. During her music studies, she discovered a hip-hop niche called "nerdcore." 

 


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