Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

Northern Michigan is a place with incredible natural beauty and varied landscapes. It is also home to Interlochen Center for the Arts and several other longstanding cultural institutions. Little wonder the region has been so attractive to artists and musicians of all types. Here we bring you those stories. 

Coming up: We’re throwing a New Year’s party, complete with cocktails, dancing, revelry...and regrets. If you’re auditioning for musical theatre these days, take notes at Intermission - we’ll have a list of songs that casting directors do NOT want to hear - and offer you a few alternatives. In Act Two - the Morning After.

Click through for this week's playlist!


National Writers Series: An evening with Ann Patchett

Dec 30, 2016

Ann Patchett is the author of novels such as "Bel Canto," "State of Wonder," and "The Patron Saint of Liars." Her new novel "Commonwealth" draws heavily on the experiences of her life. The narrative shifts back and forth from past to present, and from California to Virginia--the Commonwealth of the title. Patchett talks this hour with actor and writer Benjamin Busch. He asks Patchett why her books haven't been made into movies.

One of our favorite traditions at Interlochen Public Radio is the yearly roundup of the staff's most beloved holiday music. We've got a crew with musical tastes all over the place, and we have great fun putting this together for you.

Tune in to Classical IPR at 6pm on December 22, at noon on December 24, or listen any time at the link below. Click through for the playlist of songs and performers.

Happy Everything from all of us at IPR! 


Earlier this month, the Traverse Symphony Orchestra presented its annual Home for the Holidays concert. The TSO was joined by the NMC Grand Traverse Chorale and Children's Choir.

A children's book can be filled with wisdom and a message that resonates with readers of all ages.

That is certainly the case with Traverse City-based writer Bill O. Smith's new children's book Four a.m. December 25.

It is the story of a very special gift for a little girl.

Transcription of the book review: NOLA Gals by Barbara Rebbeck, published in 2015, honored the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and received five major awards in Young Adults categories. This year Rebbeck wrote a play for young people called Turbulence. It was based on her own novel.

Is it possible to choose a single word that captures the tumultuous and often bizarre year that was 2016?

Probably not. But that isn’t going to stop major dictionaries like Oxford, Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com from trying.

They have all released their selections for 2016’s “Word of the Year” and the results are not exactly uplifting. 

The Oxford English Dictionary, which has been in the word business for well over 100 years, chose post-truth as their top word for 2016.

Oxford defines post-truth, an adjective, as follows: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Never underestimate the power of the class clown.

The Southfield-born Keegan-Michael Key took his "class clown" talent (or "class theater nerd" as he put it) from Gesu Grade School and Royal Oak Shrine High School in Detroit to roles in television and film.

Key made his name when he was one-half of Comedy Central's show Key & Peele. The national success of that show led him to a gig working side-by-side next to President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

See below:

A variety of plants play a large role in Christmas traditions around the world.
NPR

Red and green are the traditional Christmas colors. But why? How did those colors get that distinction? 

“Because Holly was red and green, we’ve accepted those as the two Christmas colors,” says Coggin Heeringa. 

 

National Writers Series: An evening with Jodi Picoult

Dec 15, 2016

Jodi Picoult has written ten New York Times number one bestsellers, including her latest novel, "Small Great Things." It was inspired by the real-life experience of an African American nurse working at a Flint hospital, and deals with issues of prejudice, race, and justice. Picoult talks with Detroit News columnist Neal Rubin, who asked her when she knew that writing would work out as a career.

A visitor stops to examine Rafael Hayashi's work featured during the opening recpetion of Project omni's second art exhibition. The paintings were removed from the exhibition after the opening reception.
Allen Kent Photography

Chris Sims doesn’t think that the Traverse City art scene is bad, it’s just that it can get a bit insulated.

“When you stick to just local only, you start to just sort of pull from each other,” he says. “That just sort of leads to the same outcome creatively.”

Chris is the founder of Prjct omni, an art project that features contemporary art from all around the world. Last Friday, Prjct omni’s second exhibit opened in the Warehouse MRKT in Traverse City. And while most of the response was very positive, some of the paintings got a few folks a little riled up. But Chris says even a negative reaction with art is better than no reaction at all.


The last time New York's Metropolitan Opera presented a work written by a woman was 113 years ago. It's a drought that lasted longer than the years between the Cubs' World Series victories. That situation has finally been rectified this week with the New York premiere of the opera L'Amour de Loin by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.

Bill Church plays the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Parallel 45 Theatre Company's version of 'A Christmas Carol in Prose.'
Parallel 45 Theatre Company

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in the mid-19th century. 

Since then, the Christmas tale has become engrained in our everyday culture. There’s been film adaptations, operas, and countless stage versions of the story.

The name "Scrooge" has even become a term in our language, as a description for someone who is miserly.

But popularity comes with it’s downsides. For one, audiences know the story so well, they can forget the greater meaning of it. And elaborate set designs and huge casts can be distracting.

And that’s why for Parallel 45 Theatre Company, less is more when it comes to this Christmas classic.


National Writers Series: An evening with Margaret Atwood

Dec 1, 2016

Margaret Atwood is the author of many bestselling novels such as "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Cat's Eye." Her latest books include "Hag-Seed," which is a retelling of Shakespeare's play "The Tempest," and "Angel Catbird," a graphic novel featuring a cat-bird superhero. Margaret Atwood starts off telling Doug Stanton more about how she came to write "Angel Catbird."

 

From a band kid growing up in Florida to a fearsome offensive tackle who played 18 seasons in the NFL, including 11 years with the Detroit Lions, Lomas Brown has a story to tell.

He was named to the Pro Bowl for seven straight seasons. And he got a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

It’s holiday music for people who maybe aren’t really feeling the holiday spirit.

May Erlewine is getting ready to drop her new EP The Little Things with a tour of winter dance parties all around the state.

The EP’s full of holiday music that works for everyone, but is especially good for anyone who’s having a hard time grooving with the “tidings of comfort and joy” of traditional holiday tunes.

The Tony-award winning musical Fun Home opens tonight at Detroit's Fisher Theatre for a two-week run. Fun Home was adapted from Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, telling the story of her relationship with her gay dad and coming to terms with her own identity as a lesbian.

The musical got a very warm welcome when it finally got to Broadway. It was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and the show won five of them.

A few of those Tonys went to Michigan native Lisa Kron. She grew up in Lansing and is a playwright, actor and co-founder of the theater group Five Lesbian Brothers.

Welcome to Episode 31 of Show Tunes with Kate Botello! Coming up - tunes for TV! And - speaking of TV, if you missed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade broadcast, never fear! We’ll highlight the Broadway shows featured this year. At Intermission, we’ll talk with director Donna Drake. She’ll tell us the story of how she came to be one of the original cast members of A CHORUS LINE. In Act Two, we’ll answer last week’s trivia question and give you a new one to peruse.

Click through for this week's playlist!


We all fail sometimes. No exceptions. 

It's often hard to admit, but failure is an essential part of the human experience. 

That's what Failure:Lab is all about.

There's an app for just about everything. Proof of that is Honour Water.

It's a new app that teaches you Anishinaabe songs about water. Anishinaabe is the name used by native tribes including the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi and Alquonquin peoples.

 

They’re known as the Mother Earth Water Walkers: Two Anishinaabe grandmothers and a group of Anishinaabe women and men, walking the perimeter of the Great Lakes, hoping to raise awareness of the environmental and manmade threats against the lakes.

They began walking in 2003, and over the next six years walked all of the 11,525 miles around the Great Lakes.

Now the story of the Water Walkers is told in a children’s book by Michigan author Carol Trembath, with illustrations by David W. Craig.

The Next Idea

One proven way to give local businesses a boost is by grouping them together and building a brand. Think Detroit’s Greektown or Corktown, or Little Italy and Chinatown in other cities.

Jamiel Robinson is working to make that happen for black-owned businesses in Grand Rapids.

Robinson is founder and curator of the group Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses.

The Grand Haven lighthouse and waves get a good dose of what Todd and Brad Reed call, "magic light."
Todd and Brad Reed Photography

A version of this piece originally aired in November 2015

Nature photographers are a special breed.

To get the perfect shot, they’re willing to go out in all sorts of weather conditions— even gale-force rain storms.

Todd and Brad Reed are familiar with braving harsh weather conditions. The father-son team owns a photo gallery in Ludington, and have a reputation for capturing nature’s beauty in all it's different phases. Recently, their work was featured in the fall issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine. 

The Reeds say a lot of their success comes from having a game-plan in place, before they ever step foot outside. Brad calls it previsualization.

“Laying in bed the night before a storm when we can’t sleep, we’re thinking about where on the beach is going to be a good spot,” Brad says. “We’re building pictures in our head. That makes us much more efficient when we get out and we’re doing the actual shooting.”


 

Take fiddle and banjo tunes of the United States and mix them with the music and dance tunes of Sweden, and there you have Premo & Gustavsson.

Our Songs from Studio East series explores music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world. Premo & Gustavsson fit that bill perfectly.

Kyle Novy is producing a 52-song album project, called 'Mount Valor.' And he's releasing every song for free.
Kyle Novy

Kyle Novy has been a singer-songwriter for a long time. But it had been about 10 years since he released any music. He was still writing songs, but the timing to record them wasn't right.

“I almost think of it like the whole pregnancy process," he explains. "I mean there’s a good nine months of development before this child is ready to be birthed, and like out in the world.”

Two years ago, Kyle says he had an idea pop into his head. Instead of releasing just one new album with 10 - 12 songs, what if he produced one big album— with 52 songs— and released it over the course of a year?

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