Michigan Arts & Culture

On the next edition of Michigan Writers on the Air author Maureen Dunphy will discuss her new travel book Great Lakes Island Escapes. The book is published by Wayne State University Press. 

Grand Marais, Michigan, based writer Ellen Airgood will read from her new middle grade novel, The Education of Ivy Blake (Penguin).

Also, writer Bill O. Smith and illustrator Glenn Wolff will provide some background on their new book, Four A.M. December 25.

Celebrated regional essayist Kathleen Stocking will read from her new book, The Long Arc of the Universe,

New York Times bestselling crime writer Steve Hamilton will introduce his new Nick Mason series and discuss the publishing business, and Gail Wallace Bozzono will read a selection from her winning entry in the 2016 Michigan Writers Chapbook Competition.

Jema Hewitt says if you see someone wearing a pair of goggles with a top hat, you've spotted a steampunk.
"It's kind of like a secret sign," says Hewitt. "If you spot someone, and they're wearing a pair goggles like you would an Alice band, you kind of go, 'Ahah, you're a steampunk!'"


The Traverse City Film Festival will celebrate the State Theatre's Centennial among other things.
Traverse City Film Festival

Traverse City's Winter Comedy Arts Festival won't be in the winter this year.

The festival has been in mid-February for the past five years, but founder Michael Moore announced in a blog post that the comedy festival is moving to April:

Interlochen Arts Academy Band Director Matt Schlomer leads his band in rehearsal.
Daniel Wanschura

Do we have a music that describes our time and place today? 

That question was recently explored during a concert at Interlochen Arts Academy.

In the early 1900’s, pianist and composer Percy Grainger began thinking about the type of music that might describe both England’s time and place - a sort of national sound, if you will. 

 

The members of PigPen Theater Co. get asked a certain question a lot: How did they come up with their name? 

They have a number of different stories about its origin, but Curtis Gillen says this one is true:

Seven freshman guys arrived at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2007 and found out about a student-produced arts festival. Despite being short on time, the group decided to put a show together anyway.

After covering the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan for NPR, author Sarah Chayes decided to stay in the country and start a non-profit. The many types of corruption Chayes witnessed there firsthand, led her to write the book, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security. She argues that while everyone around the world agrees corruption is bad, it’s a subject that usually get’s pushed to the back burner.

“We’re under-appreciating the degree to which a lot of the turmoil we’re seeing the world today is actually sparked by indignation at acute public corruption,” says Chayes. 

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. 


The fall season of the National Writers Series opens in Traverse City tonight with best-selling historian Hampton Sides, who will talk about his newest book, In the Kingdom of Ice.

The book is about a failed attempt to sail to the North Pole in the late 1870s and 1880s by a crew of U.S. Navy sailors.

“It is an amazing story of comradeship, of leadership, of men sticking together through thick and thin to try to make it to safety," Sides says.

He spoke with IPR's David Cassleman about the story, which Hampton Sides says was well-known in the United States at the time – but has since been largely forgotten.


Beach Bums vying for first championship title

Sep 15, 2015
The Traverse City Beach Bums celebrate a victory earlier this season. Tonight, they host Game 1 of the Frontier League Championship Series.
Traverse City Beach Bums

The Traverse City Beach Bums open up the Frontier League Championship Series tonight at Wuerfel Park. The Bums host the River City Rascals for three games in a best-of-five series.

When the Beach Bums started the 2015 season, they were coming off their worst season in franchise history. Manager Dan Rohn says it’s great to see the team’s hard work this year, pay off.

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. 

 


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.

Coggin Heeringa is instructor of Environmental Studies at Interlochen Arts Camp. She's pictured next to a sassafras tree.
Kate Botello

Recently, I went for a walk with Coggin Heeringa, instructor of Environmental Studies at Interlochen Arts Camp. We were looking for sassafras, which is native to Michigan.


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. 

Aaron Selbig

Documentary filmmaker Rick Prelinger makes films that are carefully pieced together from his collection of more than 14,000 home movies.

Two of them are playing this week at the Traverse City Film Festival. One film takes a look at the American road trip. The other is sort of a time capsule of the city of Detroit.

Filmstrip festival a nod to a simpler time

Jul 29, 2015
Rosie Flickinger started the so-called filmstrip festival 10 years ago.
Tom Carr

Thousands will line up this week with their tickets in hand for the Traverse City Film Festival. But a few miles to the south, the Traverse City Filmstrip Festival at East Bay Branch Library will celebrate a less glamorous medium.

Before YouTube and before videotapes, school kids saw a lot of filmstrips, like the one Rosie Flickinger shows. It’s a story told and sung by the late Pete Seeger.

 She clicks the filmstrip ahead every time she hears the beep on the audio cassette.

Flickinger, a librarian, started the so-called filmstrip festival 10 years ago, when the Traverse City Film Festival was young. The event is really just a couple showings of filmstrips.


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. 

Harlan Coben

Novelist Harlan Coben has thrilled readers for 25 years and sold more than 50 million books, including mysteries, crime novels and books for young adults. Earlier this year, he published The Stranger, a book that one New York Times reviewer says "takes a happy suburban family and destroys it."

Coben will be in Traverse City for an event with the National Writers Series on Thursday, and IPR caught up with him earlier this week.

As he tells IPR's David Cassleman, Coben didn't initially set out to become a writer. But he says it was his love for stories that eventually moved him to become a novelist:


“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.

Jetty Rae sits with her 18-month year old son, Beck.
Daniel Wanschura

 

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the Big Ticket Festival, in Gaylord, Michigan. The music festival features over 60 artists spread out over 6 stages. 

One of the artists performing on the main stage Friday, is Charlevoix resident, Jetty Rae.

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