The Green Room

Your weekly dose of arts and culture, airing every Friday morning on IPR News Radio & Classical IPR.  

Morgan Springer

Incarcerated poets get together weekly at Writer’s Block, a poetry writing workshop at Macomb Correctional Facility outside Detroit. Eight inmates file into a conference room. Dressed in navy and orange jumpsuits, they greet everyone with affectionate handshakes.

 


Maryfrances Phillippi in front of her "Circle of Angels" barn quilt.
Daniel Wanschura

Have you ever been driving around and noticed huge, quilt-like squares hanging on the sides of barns?

Those are called barn quilts, and just as fabric quilts tell stories with what's stitched into them, so do these wooden quilts. 


Chuck Korson prepares espresso for the first round of the Latte Art Throwdown.
Kate Botello

If you ever find yourself in a room full of people, drinks being poured, and a giant bracket posted on a white board, you’re probably in one of two places: a sports bar during March Madness, or a coffee house during a latte art throwdown. 

While latte art is a popular subject for people posting photos of their drinks on social media, the quality of the art is also a determination of the deliciousness of the drink. 

“It’s a sign that you’re taking care in what your doing with the coffee,” says Chuck Korson, owner of BLK MRKT, a coffee shop in Traverse City. “It’s the most easily recognizable manifestation of the care that is put into the coffee making,” he says.


Theater director Minda Nyquist getting acquainted with her new office at West High School in Traverse City.
Daniel Wanschura

Ready or not, it’s back to school time!

While students are cherishing their last days of summer, teachers are busily preparing for the upcoming school year.

Minda Nyquist is one of them. She’s getting ready for her new role as the theater director at West High School in Traverse City. She’s taking over for Kristie Bach, who developed the theater program at West into the renown program it is today. Minda hopes to continue to build on what Kristie started 18 years ago.

Students rehearse during marching band camp at Interlochen last week.
John Roddy

High school football kicks off this weekend and with it marching band season. 

Some high schoolers spent last week getting ready for the band season at band camp hosted by Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Amy Wang was in marching band in high school and college. She’s been helping out as a color guard instructor for about 10 years.

One of her favorite things about band camp, is seeing the progression of the students.

“It’s pretty amazing what they can do in one week,” she says. 

Amy says anybody wanting to be in the color guard should be prepared to work hard, have lots of spirit, but to remember to enjoy the moment.

Not only do they have to memorize all the music and choreography, but they have to perform in all sorts of weather conditions- all while carrying and playing their instruments. 

 


This week the Green Room celebrates the ukulele, a sweet sounding little instrument with a growing fan base all over the world. Plus, Kate Botello plays something unexpected.

Librettist Scott Diel (left) and composer Eugene Birman (right) pictured during their two-week residency on Rabbit Island just off the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Andrew Ranville

Throughout the 19th century, operas were written to address the social issues of their day. Some people think those operas and their traditional format don’t have much context or relevance in today’s world.

Meet composer Eugene Birman and librettist Scott Diel. They believe opera should be made to reflect the current times and shed some of the formalities that characterize traditional opera.

That’s why they’re creating “State of the Union,” a neo-opera that challenges how humans view their urban environment, the world and each other. 

The piece will feature 12 voices. It doesn’t have any instruments, but it will have a megaphone.

The 2015 Traverse City Film Festival kicked off on Tuesday and wraps up on Sunday.
Daniel Wanschura

The 11th annual Traverse City Film Festival has turned northwest lower Michigan into everything cinematic.

While it’s smaller than say, Sundance or Cannes, the Traverse City Film Festival has it’s own unique flavor. 

David Cassleman

Armed with an eight-track recorder and an eighty dollar microphone, Matt Jones travels around Michigan, recording local musicians.

So far, he’s recorded about 100 artists from all over the state. 

“Everybody I’ve recorded has been completely worth it," Jones says. "So how could I possibly stop?"

The "JunkYard Music Box" was made out of a rusty water tank, old car parts, leftover granite, two I-beams, and an antique meat grinder.
Tom Kaufmann

What most of us would see as useless junk, Tom Kaufmann sees potential for making instruments. 

“I love junk,” Kaufmann says, laughing. 

From a giant 25-foot tall music box made out of a rusty water tank, to glockenspiels created out of hand tools, he has spent much of his life making music out of unexpected materials.

"Beaches" the musical runs through August 16 at the Drury Lane Theatre near Chicago.
Brett Beiner

"Beaches" just opened as a new musical in a pre-Broadway tryout in the Chicago area. The musical is similar to the 1988 film starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.

 

Director Brian Nash is an Interlochen alum. He says it feels like you’re looking at the same story as the film, but focusing on different days of the girls lives. 

“Weird Al” Yankovic has been making people laugh for more than 30 years.

On Sunday, he’s stopping by Traverse City with his “Mandatory Fun” Tour.

Hear how he came up with the idea for his song Foil, which parodies the pop song Royals by Lorde.

Levi Meeuwenberg and his fiancé Brenda Baran, of Realeyes Homestead in Traverse City.
Christopher Chemsak

In 2006, Levi Meeuwenberg left Michigan to perform and tour with Madonna as a parkour artist. 

Yes, the Madonna.

Linda Stephan

 

Yana Dee is not your typical seamstress.

She doesn’t use pins. She doesn’t use an iron very often, and she doesn’t use patterns in the traditional sense. She now has a store located in Traverse City’s high-rent downtown. Hear how she makes women’s clothing by combining retro ways with modern trends. 

Aaron Selbig

 This week on the Green Room: Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ gets a folk music makeover. Courtney Kaiser-Sandler, instructor of the singer-songwriter program here at Interlochen Arts Academy, talks about creating the play’s original score.

Plus, street art becomes fine art. A skateboard art exhibit opens at the Dennos Museum in Traverse City.

 

 

 

 

Daniel Wanschura

Charlevoix boasts some unique houses. Often referred to as mushroom, Gnome, or Hobbit houses, the homes attract hundreds of tourists during the summer months. A new documentary film, The Wizard of Boulder Park, celebrates the architectural legacy of Earl Young, the man who built them. With limited architectural training, Young designed the homes to integrate with the natural landscape. 

Aaron Selbig

Musician Rachel Brooke has been compared to Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris and Neko Case. She spends most of her time on the road these days traveling the country, but she loves to be writing songs at her home is near Grayling. We catch up with her during one of her recent hometown gigs.

Plus, artist Rufus Snoddy has collaborated with his daughter, Maya James, on an exhibition at Twisted Fish Art Gallery. James is a spoken-word artist. The exhibit, called Hybrid runs through June 28.

Imperial Stormtroopers are invading the Cherry Capital Comic Con this weekend - but don't worry; it's just for fun! 

And - photographer Eric Hatch uses long exposures to capture big details in his images, partly because he can't really see the small things.

Plus: a graduating Interlochen student shares her favorite bassoon trick! 

 


Traverse City's Joshua Davis has advanced to the final round of NBC's singing contest 'The Voice.' Now it's up to his supporters to get out the vote to try to bring him a victory.

Plus, 'The King and I' is once again selling out on Broadway, nearly 65 years after its debut. But you don't have to go all the way to New York City to see the musical – it's on stage in northern Michigan at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Tom Carr

Pete Farmer isn’t opposed to playing with other musicians, but it can be a pain to coordinate. Sometimes he just wants to play by himself – and that’s why he created a drum contraption that turns anyone into a one-man or one-woman-band.

Plus, author Stuart Dybek is a genius – at least according to the MacArthur Foundation which gave him one of its so-called 'genius grants' a few years back. We hear from him in advance of an appearance in northern Michigan next week.


Leland Public School isn't afraid of breaking necks or slitting throats, they're performing Sondheim’s dark, Victorian musical Sweeney Todd. Hear why they didn't shy away from the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Plus, who said vinyl is dead? Hear why it’s making a comeback. Also in this episode, we hear from Joshua Davis as he tells us about one of his favorite green rooms.


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Welcome to the Green Room, a weekly arts journal from Interlochen Public Radio. Listen below to this week's episode about the arts, artists and performance.


Joffrey Ballet

Welcome to the Green Room, a weekly arts journal from Interlochen Public Radio. Listen below to this week's episode about the arts, artists and performance.


Wayne Erreca

Welcome to the Green Room on Interlochen Public Radio, our new weekly arts journal. Join us to hear about the arts, artists, and performance.

Why is it called the Green Room?

A green room is a space where performers hang out between the dressing room and the stage. It's a place to relax, that usually has a couch and some snacks. So think of the Green Room on Interlochen Public Radio as your backstage pass into the world of the arts each week.

John L. Russell

If you’re a soccer fan, you probably remember the 2006 World Cup Championship between France and Italy. The contest featured a French player famously head butting an Italian, before Italy won the match in a shootout. 

That match got the owners of Trattoria Stella in Traverse City thinking, “Why don’t we do this with food?”

This year marks the eighth year the Italian restaurant has challenged a French counterpart to a friendly dinner competition.

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