Local Music

Hear interviews with guests on music programs produced here at WMUK, as well as program news.

Craig Freeman

Violinist Ahmed Tofiq has become, by neccessity, a bridge between Eastern and Western musical traditions, and a bridge between cultures as well. The co-founder of a youth orchestra for children of Syrian refugees, Orchestra Rouh, he speaks Arabic and excels in playing traditional melodies in the styles he learned growing up in Kurdistan. But Tofiq has embraced life in Kalamazoo since moving here to earn his master's degree in music at Western Michigan University in 2014. He knows that music is one way to form connections, and a feeling of home, quickly.

In the Takeda studio, with his violin, Ahmed Tofiq tells his story and plays a few of his favorite maqamat as he speaks with Craig Freeman. 

halfrain, via flickr / creative commons

Horn player Ron Chase, oboist Wendy Mazer, and pianist Barbara Hong are friends and musicians who enjoy the chance to play music together with their colleagues four times a year at the Ladies Library of Kalamazoo. This Friday, they'll close the fifth season of the Arcadia Winds & Ensemble des Amis with a variety of works for winds and piano, including Carl Reinecke's Sextet for winds, Op 271; Mozart's Serenade, K375, and works by James Cohn and Jules Massenet. The concert and following reception are free and open to the public. Chase, Mazer and Hong discuss the works on the program and the pleasure of performing in the historic music hall at the Ladies Library.

helsingborgs konserhus, all creative commons license

The 43rd annual Stulberg International String Competition is a less intimidating event than it may sound. Executive director Margaret Hamilton explains that this Kalamazoo-based music competition for string players under the age of 20 is widely considered a friendly experience for both contestants and for audiences.

Between 9am and 4 pm on Friday, anyone can walk into the Dalton Center Recital Hall to hear the 12 semi-finalists play on the half-hour for the three experienced judges. At 7:30 pm, the remaining six finalists will perform again - and this year, they'll talk to From The Top's Christopher O'Riley, host of the popular radio showcase for young performers as they wait for the results at the end of the concert. On Saturday, the public is welcome to observe judges Anthony Ross and Scott St. John teach masterclasses, and judge Aaron Dworkin will give a presentation on entrepreneurship in the arts. In this interview, Margaret Hamilton and Cara Lieurance walk listeners through the event and celebrate past winners.

Kalamazoo Male Chorus

Founded 90 years ago as an industry-sponsored activity for workers, the Kalamazoo Male Chorus has built a lot of history, and friendships, over the decades. On Sunday at 4 pm at the First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo, the chorus, special guests, and a wide-ranging selection of music will celebrate the 90th anniversary of one of the longest-running artistic groups in west Michigan.

The festivities will include the all-women Kalamazoo Community Chorale, local bands Whiskey Before Breakfast and The Duffield/Caron Project, the former KMC director Jan Berghorst, Kalamazoo Ringers alumni, and some fun bits of KMC history never told before. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Michael Palmer reflects on the last 15 years of directing the chorus, and choristers Pedro Hogan and Boyd Bronson share their experiences of being part of the group.

Jimmy Katz

Swing guitarist/singer John Pizzarelli talks to Cara Lieurance about his early immersion in music-making at home, which led to touring with his father, jazz guitarist John "Bucky" Pizzarelli. With over twenty albums to his credit, he picks a few cuts from his latest, Sinatra and Jobim at 50, to share with listeners, as they discuss Pizzarelli's upcoming show at Bell's Eccentric Café on Friday, May 18. Michigan's Organissimo and west coast blues guitarist "Little" Charlie Baty are also set to perform.