Local Music

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

Xie Guichen

Ninteen-year-old pianist Wei Luo, a recipient of a 2018 Gilmore Young Artist Award, has an affinity for Russian music. She tells Cara Lieurance about her program, filled with works by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Schedrin, as well as Haydn and Chopin, highlighting the powerful emotions and storytelling that went into the creation of the pieces by the composers. 

Ms. Luo explains that when she first encountered a piano as a child she was fascinated with it, and begged her parents to let her play one. To make sure she was serious, her parents gave her a month to consider whether she would commit to learning the instrument before they agreed to purchase one for her to play. Now, she is a student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she studies with Gary Graffman and Robert McDonald. 

Ms. Luo will perform solo recitals on April 27 in South Haven, April 28 in Kalamazoo, and April 29 in Battle Creek. She will appear with the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra on May 5, performing the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff. For tickets and more details, visit the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival website.

Cellist Stefan Koch performs in several orchestras around Michigan and surrounding states. He is also involved in chamber music performance, especially in the performance and recording of music by Jewish composer Richard Stohr (born Stern).  Stefan Koch has been performing and recording Stohr's works for cello.  His latest Toccata Classics recording features Stohr's Piano Trio, Op. 16 and Three Songs for Low Voice and Piano with Cello Accompaniment, Op. 21, a recording released just a few months ago.  Koch talks with Jack Perlstein about Richard Stohr's life and music.  

Unison Media

Next Tuesday, American tenor Lawrence Brownlee will appear at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in a song recital with pianist Myra Huang. They will perform two song cycles: 2018's Cycles of my Being by composer Tyshawn Sorey and poet Terrence Hayes, and Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe (A Poet's Love) from 1840. In a preview of the recital with Cara Lieurance, Brownlee discusses both works in passionate detail.

Cycles Of My Being was created by Brownlee, Sorey and Hayes, all African-American men, as they examined their existences as members of a society which often displays hatred and fear toward them. Brownlee quotes the first line of the first song in the cycle: "America - I hear you hiss and stare / Do you love the air in me / As I love the air in you?" And even though he is a celebrated bel canto tenor specializing in Italian opera, Brownlee set a goal for himself to perform a German song cycle in recital, partly inspired by the recordings of Fritz Wunderlich. While working in Germany recently, he sought out a teacher who shared stories about the history and poetry of Schumann's Dichterliebe.  His concert in Kalamazoo will follow the same program he performs in Carnegie Hall, New York on April 24.

Derek Sterling

The legendary Liberace, who would have celebrated his 99th birthday next month, is the subject of a Farmers Alley Theatre production beginning April 27th, in collaboration with the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival

Pianist-performer David Maiocco is stepping into a role filled with warmth, glitz, talent and showmanship - and at the piano in WMUK's Takeda Performance Studio, he talks about the highs and lows of Liberace's life. Maiocco also includes some trademark tunes, including "Three Little Fishes," and a fantastical version of "Chopsticks." 

LIBERACE! will run April 27th through May 13th at 221 Farmers Alley in downtown Kalamazoo. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Farmers Alley Theatre Box Office at (269)343-2727 or by visiting www.farmersalleytheatre.com.

Catalina Gonzalez

Jordan Hamilton is a performer who took his training in classical cello and transformed himself into a soloist who sings, raps, writes, and performs electro-acoustic arrangements on the cello. Originally from Maryland, he is a member of the Last Gasp Collective, and recently completed his master's degree in music performance from Western Michigan University. WMUK contributor Craig Freeman invited him to play his eclectic solo set live in the Takeda Studio and talk about his uncommon path to self-expression.