Michigan Festival of Sacred Music announces lineup for 2016, new annual event

Sept. 14, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Michigan Festival of Sacred Music

Contact: Elizabeth Start, Executive Director

598-5090

www.mfsm.us

Michigan Festival of Sacred Music announces lineup for 2016, new annual event

MFSM hosts a performance connecting the three Abrahamic faiths, ancient and contemporary Javanese music on the gamelan, a genre-busting trio from Syria and what may be your only chance to dress in Halloween costumes and hear organ music at the same time. It’s all part of the new annual festival.

KALAMAZOO — In a series of both ticketed and free events from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2, the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music provides a unique opportunity to hear the critically acclaimed Rose Ensemble and the Syrian trio DIO. These are just two of the ensembles in the impressive lineup of the five-day festival.

For many years the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music has wanted to bring the renowned Rose Ensemble to Kalamazoo and now it has become a reality. Land of Three Faiths: Voices of Ancient Mediterranean Jews, Christians and Muslims, the program to be presented, took years of intensive research and training to create. The result is at once sacred, secular, folk, and classical. The program features instruments and musical ideas that blur the lines between Arabic and European cultures, and this entertaining and enlightening program is steeped in the rich history of the Abrahamic faiths, achieving a perfect balance of edgy improvisation, exotic vocal styles, and ancient traditions.

The Rose Ensemble takes songs and poems born in households, chapels, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, and royal courts and reproduces those harmonies and rhythms with authentic instrumentation. Kathy Hanson, writing in Ames Life & Times says, “This program wasn’t a performance. It was more like a resurrection. The Rose Ensemble breathes life into stark, ancient manuscripts . . . restores them as new creations.”

There will be three opportunities to see multiple-award winning organist Jonathan Ryan  throughout the festival, but organizers want to make sure everyone knows about the unique opportunity for a family friendly event. The audience is invited to come in costume to the short family program of organ music at 6 p.m. Oct. 31. This holiday event is being coordinated with a “Trunk or Treat”, organized by First Congregational Church, right next door to the concert venue that runs from 5 to 6 p.m. Mr. Ryan will be in concert at 8 p.m. that evening and presents a Nov. 1 Master Class.

Another highlight of the 2016 festival will be its event welcoming some of Kalamazoo’s newest residents, Syrian refugee families. They will be invited to hear the music of DIO trio, a group of Syrian immigrant musicians now based in the Chicago area, who will perform in concert at the newly renovated Heritage Hall on the WMU campus. DIO’s varied repertoire is rooted in the richly diverse musical heritage of the Arab Middle East. It comprises the most renowned historical and contemporary composers, as well as original compositions by the trio’s members. The trio is comprised of vocalist Dima Orsho, Issam Rafea on oud, and percussionist Omar al-Musfi.

What else is new this year? For the first time in the 15 years that the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music has been bringing outstanding musicians to Kalamazoo there will be back-to-back festivals. In the past, the festival has taken place every other year with single-day events in the intervening years.

The Michigan Festival of Sacred Music debuted in 2001 as a three-day biennial festival. It has been a 10-day event since 2009. At the end of each festival, it is common for Michigan Festival of Sacred Music board members and staff to hear that people are disappointed they missed the internationally recognized artists brought to Kalamazoo. The next thing they say is, “I’ll be there next year,” not realizing it will be two years before the full festival returns. In response, Michigan Festival of Sacred Music is now an annual event.

“We were tempted to call the 2016 festival our first annual,” says Executive Director Elizabeth Start. 

The 2016 Michigan Festival of Sacred Music concludes with a return of the popular Sound and Spirit of Kalamazoo—area musicians representing diverse sacred music from across the community, including the music of Hazeltree and the stylistic dance moves of the Afro-Brazilian martial art Capeoira presented by artists from the Grand Rapids area.

Tickets for the 2016 Michigan Festival of Sacred Music’s four ticketed events are now on sale. http://mfsm.us/tickets

About the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music

The Michigan Festival of Music, a nonprofit arts organization supported by individual donations and numerous grants, is committed to broadening the understanding of diverse cultures through sacred music. Support also comes from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A complete 2016 festival lineup follows:

Earth Spirit Duo — Desert Dreams accompanied by Earth Spirit duo Gary Stroutsos on Native American flutes and percussionist Carolyn Koebel. Music with projected images create an immersive experience.  11 a.m., Oct. 29, Kalamazoo Nature Center, Free

http://www.garystroutsos.com/ http://carolynkoebel.com/

Friends of the Gamelan —The rich and diverse repertoire of the Friends of the Gamelan spans everything from centuries-old, traditional Javanese compositions to contemporary works, some of them written by its members. Co-sponsored by Kalamazoo Public Library. 2 p.m. Oct. 29,  at the Kalamazoo Public Library, Free 

http://www.chicagogamelan.org/

The Rose Ensemble —The Multiple award-winning Rose Ensemble performs Land of Three Faiths: Voices of Ancient Mediterranean Jews, Christians and Muslims. This program explores the Abrahamic faith connections. The program is the result of years of intensive research and training, which results in a work that is at once sacred, secular, folk, and classical. The program features instruments and musical ideas that blur the lines between Arabic and European, and achieves a perfect balance of edgy improvisation, exotic vocal styles, and ancient traditions. 2 p.m., Oct. 30, Dalton Center, Western Michigan University.  $25/$20/$5 

https://www.roseensemble.org/

Nefesh Mountain — There will be two opportunities to see husband and wife team Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff, both at Congregation of Moses. Nefesh Mountain pioneers a blend of Jewish Americana through their passion for both Jewish and Bluegrass traditions, singing English and Hebrew songs alike. 11 a.m., Oct. 30, Congregation of Moses, family program. Free. 7 p.m., Oct. 30, In concert with full band. $15/$5 

http://www.nefeshmountain.com/

Jonathan Ryan — There will be three opportunities to see multi-prize winning organist Jonathan Ryan all at First Baptist Church.  Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike for his strong communicative skills in numerous styles, depth of musicianship, and passion, Jonathan Ryan is hailed as one of the premiere young concert organists of our time. His command of an exceptionally large breadth of repertoire, spanning from the Renaissance to numerous solo and collaborative premieres, coupled with striking virtuosity enables the bold, imaginative programming and exceptional use of each organ’s unique capability for which he is noted. Mr. Ryan has the rare distinction of holding six First Prize awards from major international and national organ competitions. His first appearance will be a family friendly event introducing the organ at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 in a concert with a holiday twist at First Baptist Church. Families are encouraged to come in costume. Admission is free. Mr. Ryan’s 8 p.m. concert at First Baptist will showcase the amazing Letourneau organ and include repertoire for All Saints Day. $15 general admission, $5 students He wraps up his festival appearances with a Master Class Tuesday, Nov. 1. 

Oct. 31, 5-6 p.m. “Trunk or Treat” in First Congregational Church parking lot: treats for trick-or- treaters from festively decorated cars.

Oct. 31,  6 p.m. Come-in-costume, short family program of organ music. Free 

Oct. 31,  8 p.m. Organ concert. $15/$5 

Nov. 1,  10 a.m. Masterclass. Free

http://www.jonathan-ryan.com/

DIO — A trio of Syrian musicians on voice, oud, and percussion offer a varied repertoire, rooted in the richly diverse musical heritage of the Arab Middle East. This comprises the most renowned historical and contemporary composers, as well as original compositions by the trio’s members. Their music is steeped in cultural heritage, modern and sleek in presentation, yet also nuanced, soulful, and authentic. Heritage Hall, Western Michigan University; Nov. 1, 7 p.m.; $15/$5

Sound & Spirit of Southwest Michigan — Area artists present music from diverse faiths and genres. First Baptist, 7 p.m. Nov. 2. Free   

Messiah Sing — First Congregational Church. 4 p.m. Nov. 27,  Free

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P.O. Box 50566
Kalamazoo, MI 49005
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