Encore April 2024

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Meet Dave Crider Catching Up with AACORN Local Sips for Cider Lovers Ladies with Babies Southwest Michigan’s Magazine Why You Should Be Fired Up about The Gilmore April 2024
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From the Editor

We jokingly call this month "Active April" around the office — but not because the warmer weather means we are all going to go outside, get in shape and be buff for summer clothes. It's actually because of the abundance of activities that are happening in our community this month and the pages dedicated to telling our readers all about them.

In this issue alone, we have a story on the Gilmore International Piano Festival, which will have more than 100 live music and other keyboard-themed events happening over a two-week period, from April 24–May 12. We have six pages of The Arts, overflowing with theatre, literature, music and visual art opportunities for people to experience. And if that's not enough, we have nearly 100 listings in our Events of Note. Also, our Five Faves feature highlights five spots to sip locally made hard ciders. If anyone ever says there's nothing to do in Kalamazoo, you can hand them this issue as a rebuttal.

For those quieter moments you might find, we have some stories on inspiring people and organizations aiming to make life better for others. Our Good Works feature this month focuses on Ladies with Babies, which provides comfort and calmness to people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia by providing them with realistic baby dolls. The subject of our Update story is the farm therapy program AACORN, which helps adults with autism and other intellectual differences. And our Back Story profiles Dave Crider, the new executive director of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, which offers a first-class musical performance program for students from throughout Southwest Michigan.

We encourage you to take advantage of all there is to do and see in our community this month and have an Active April of your own. Enjoy!

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Left to right: Morgan Rogalke-Scime, Charles S. Ofstein, Tyler J. Stewart, Olivia A. Kurajian, William B. Millard
4 | ENCORE APRIL 2024 Kalamazoo, MI • 269-381-5412 • www.arboristserviceskzoo.com Evaluation & Care of Trees and Shrubs Publisher encore publications, inc Editor marie lee Art Director alexis stubelt Photographer brian k powers Contributing Writers zinta aistars, marie lee, mark wedel, jarret whitenack Copy Editor/Poetry Editor margaret deritter Advertising Sales janis clark, sha'nna stafford, krieg lee Distribution ron kilian robert zedeck Office Coordinator kelly burcroff Proofreader hope smith Meet Dave Crider Catching Up with AACORN Local Sips for Cider Lovers Ladies with Babies Southwest Michigan’s Magazine Why You Should Be Fired Up about The Gilmore April 2024 www.encorekalamazoo.com 117 W. Cedar St. Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383–4433 Email: Publisher@encorekalamazoo.com The staff at Encore welcomes written comments from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, visit encorekalamazoo.com. Encore subscription rates: one year $36, two years $70. Current single issue and newsstand $4, $10 by mail. Back issues $6, $12 by mail. Advertising rates on request. Closing date for space is 28 days prior to publication date. Final date for print–ready copy is 21 days prior to publication date. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by those interviewed and published here do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Encore Magazine or the official policies, owners or employees of Encore Publications Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2024, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to:


www.encorekalamazoo.com | 5 CONTENTSAPRIL 2024
the cover: No very, very expensive pianos were damaged in the creation of this photo illustration of Pierre van der Westhuizen, The Gilmore's executive and artistic director at the keys of a Steinway. The photo is real, the flames, not so much. Photographer Brian K. Powers FEATURE
not just who this festival
the community DEPARTMENTS
From the Editor
First Things A round–up of happenings in SW Michigan
Five Faves
local spots for cider lovers
Update AACORN is Growing Strong — More than
after forming, the therapy farm is cultivating success
Good Works
with Babies — Baby dolls provide
comfort to dementia patients
Back Story Meet Dave Crider — He's finding a new beat at the helm of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra 22 Theater 23 Comedy 24 Literature 25 Visual Arts 26 Music 28 Events of Note 32 Poetry "Ode to Bonnie Jo" by Margaret DeRitter TheArts
Jazzed about The Gilmore
brings to
years, but the lasting impact it
a decade
smiles and

When my mother passed away from dementia, it was a time of tragedy upon tragedy. My father, her husband of nearly 70 years, had passed away just a few months prior. She was still looking for him at every turn. And it was the time of the Covid pandemic. I could not comfort her but through the window of the memory care facility. While she recognized my face through the window, facility staff told me she was also looking for me as a toddler running through the hallways — and I had an idea. I bought her a doll. She held that doll and talked to it and cared for it, at least for a time. When I learned about Ladies with Babies, an organization that donates life-like dolls to people in memory care, I knew this was a worthwhile cause. This organization brings comfort and alleviates loneliness among those who suffer from cognitive disorders. I was glad to pass along their message.

Mark Wedel was an arts and entertainment journalist for the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1992 to 2015 who often covered The Gilmore International Piano Festival. He looks over his last review clippings from the 2012 Gilmore Piano Festival, and with a tear in his eye, wonders, "Why can't I get paid to go to shows like this anymore?" He saw experimental funk-jazz from The Robert Glasper Experiment, pop and jazz from Diana Krall, the orchestral cocktail lounge of Pink Martini. He also interviewed musicians from Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein to Eminem's touring pianist Luis Resto.

Wedel always loved the deep dives into the music that came to Kalamazoo, hair metal to opera, but when The Gilmore happened, the dives were always into a wondrous pool. Since 2014, he's been a freelance writer, covering Kalamazoo infrastructure, biking, the housing crisis, and occasional arty things.

This month Jarret wrote an update story on AACORN which provides farm therapy for adults with developmental differences. While interviewing founders Cindy Semark and Dr. Liz Farner and executive director Mary Pickett, Jarret found a definitive sense of care and community.

“The drive it takes to start a program like AACORN and then to run it for a decade while always trying to improve and expand is unbelievably impressive,” says Jarret. “AACORN sets a standard that should be met by others in the community.” Jarret, a graduate of Portland State University’s history program, is an intern at Encore

Zinta Aistars Mark Wedel
CONTRIBUTORS ENCORE 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007 | 269.349.7775 | kiarts.org KALAMAZOO INSTITUTE OF ARTS
Jarret Whitenack
a a June 7 & 8, 2024
Kalamazoo Institute of

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First Things

Something Delicious Symposium focuses on African foods

An annual event that provides historical, cultural and practical insights into the region's food systems will be an outdoor festival this year focusing on African heritage crops.

The Kalamazoo Foodways Symposium, presented by Kalamazoo Valley Community College, opens with Kenyan land steward Akoth Ambugo's keynote address, “Healing Soils and Souls,” at 7 p.m. April 5. The address will be presented at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, with Nigerian fusion food served afterwards.

April 6 will be a day of culinary exploration and musical performances from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. at KVCC's Marilyn J. Schlack Culinary and Allied Health Building, 418 E. Walnut St. Features will include Ghanian peanut stew, a Jollof rice from Burkina Faso, a pumpkin stew from Liberia, and a fermented porridge called Uji from Kenya as well as performances of West African dance by Rootead Youth Drum and Dance Ensemble and cooking classes.

For a full schedule or to register for cooking classes, visit kalamazoofoodways.org.

Something Different Comic-Con to fill Expo Center

Don your favorite cos-play garb April 12–14 when the Grand Rapids Comic-Con Spring Fling Road Trip takes over the entire Kalamazoo County Expo Center.

The three-day event for fans of comic-book culture and popular arts will feature dozens of creators, celebrities, voice actors and vendors. Among those scheduled to appear are Dmitriy Karas, a Ukrainian stuntman, actor and creature performer best known for his work in the Star Wars series; Teen Titan voice actors Greg Cipes (Beast Boy) and Hynden Walch (Starfire); and comic-book creators Bob Hall (West Coast Avengers, Moon Knight and Shadowman) and Howard Mackie (Ghost Rider, The Amazing Spider-Man, Mutant X and X-Factor).

Event hours are noon–7 p.m. April 12, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. April 13, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. April 14. Advance ticket prices are $22–$55 for adults and $5–$12 for children ages 5–12. For tickets or more information, visit grcomiccon.com.

Something Good Eat, drink and give to benefit Gryphon Place

What could be better than eating and drinking to help a good cause?

That's what's on the menu at Eat Drink Give, an annual fundraising event to benefit Gryphon Place, which provides suicide prevention resources in Southwest Michigan. The event runs from 7–10 p.m. April 26 at the Girl Scouts building at 601 Maple St. It will include an array of cuisines from local restaurants plus wine and beer, music, and an auction and raffle.

Tickets are $80 if purchased by April 20 and $95 after that. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit gryphon.org/edg.

Akoth Ambugo

Something Country Cody Jinks to perform at


Independent musician Cody Jinks will bring his outlaw country music to Wings Event Center April 13.

Jinks, who records on his own label, Late August Records, was named Music Row’s 2023 Independent Artist of the Year after receiving the most radio spins for an independent artist that year. He hit the scene in 2016 with his album I'm Not the Devil. He has recorded 11 albums since, including Change the Game, which was released in March.

Opening for Jinks will be Southern rock band Blackberry Smoke and singer-songwriter Doc Oliver. The show begins at 7 p.m., and tickets are $32.50–$250. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit wingseventcenter.com.

Something Inspired

The Accidentals to play at Bell's

The Traverse City-based band The Accidentals will pay homage to those who inspired them when they play at Bell's Brewery April 26.

The trio, consisting of Sav Buist, Katy Larson and Katelynn Corll, will play music by female artists who influenced them, including singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe, Debbie Harry of Blondie, and other artists whose songs are included on the group's Covers Album which will be released this month.

The show at Bell's will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25–$100 and can be purchased online at events.bellsbeer. com or at Bell's General Store, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.

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Five Faves

Locally crafted hard ciders are worth a try

Cider was one of the first alcoholic drinks produced in the American colonies, but it fell out of favor in the 1800s as orchards became less and less prevalent throughout the nation. In recent years, though, hard cider has seen explosive growth. In 2024, for example, annual hard cider revenue in the U.S. is expected to grow by 8.9%, according to industry research company IBISWorld. This rise in popularity can be seen in the increase in the number of local cider producers. From single batches at small brewpubs to larger-scale operations, here are five places to sip locally made hard cider.

Latitude 42° Brewing Co.

This local brewpub and restaurant, which has two locations, gets its name from the 42nd parallel north, on which Kalamazoo is squarely located.

The day I visited the West Main Street location there were four ciders on tap — Dry Apple, Blueberry Apple, Cherry Apple and Saskatoon. This mix of dry, semi-sweet and sweet ciders made for a perfect flight. If you aren’t a cider lover or beer drinker, you can get fun drink options like Adult Juice Boxes, which are alcoholic, grown-up versions of the children's beverages, complete with a straw.

Latitude 42° is located at 7842 Portage Road, in Portage, and 6101 W. Main St., in Oshtemo Township. The hours at both locations are 4–9 p.m. Monday–Thursday and 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Friday and Sunday.

Texas Corners Brewing Co.

Texas Corners Brewing Co., located in Texas Township, is a staple of the local cider scene. Its six ciders on tap cover a wide range of tastes, from the drier Crisp Apple to the sweeter Raspberry and Cherry ciders. Three of the company's ciders — Crisp Apple, Cherry and Black Currant — are on tap all year, while the others rotate. I recommend the six-cider flight to try them all.

Texas Corners Brewing also offers food made from local produce, including produce from its own farm, and is housed in a renovated church, which provides a cozy setting. There is outdoor seating when the weather permits and live music on certain days.

Texas Corners Brewing Co. is located at 6970 Texas Drive and is open 4–9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon–10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Distant Whistle Brewhouse

For the small town of Vicksburg, Distant Whistle Brewhouse is a decent-sized operation when it comes to brewing. Not only does brewer and owner Dane Bosel craft all its beers, wines and ciders, he also runs the home-brewing shop next door to help others get into the craft.

Distant Whistle’s cider selection is small — Bosel produces only one high-quality cider every season, experimenting with flavors to match the season, so it’s always a surprise to see what cider flavor will be on tap. When I was there, it was a semisweet Cranberry Bright cider that had a definite winter aura.

The brewhouse has a mug club with locally made ceramic mugs for members to use anytime they come in for a drink.

Distant Whistle Brewhouse is located 118 S. Main St., in Vicksburg. Its hours are 3–10 p.m. Tuesday–Thursday, 3 p.m.–midnight Friday, noon–midnight Saturday, and noon–10 p.m. Sunday.

10 | ENCORE APRIL 2024

One Well Brewing

Historically, wells have been iconic spots where folks can gather and drink, and while One Well Brewing is not exactly a spot to draw water, it is a great gathering place for drinking handcrafted brews, including a couple of homemade hard ciders.

One Well usually has three ciders on tap: Straight Forward, a semi-sweet straight apple; Grandpa’s Hard Cider, which is apple-pie-flavored; and Double Barrel Tree Tops, a bourbon-barrel-aged cider with a high alcohol content. Unfortunately, when I visited One Well, I was able to try only Straight Forward, since they were out of the other two.

One Well is a family-friendly place and a good spot to hang with friends. In addition to serving food, they have board games, arcade games, foosball, and pinball. They also host foosball, pinball and dart tournaments as well as a trivia night every Sunday.

One Well Brewing is located at 4213 Portage St., in Kalamazoo, and is open 3–10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 3–11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.–midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday.

About the Author

Jarret Whitenack is a cider-loving Oregonian who is in Michigan working as an editorial intern for Encore and wishes all his editorial assignments were as fun as this one has been.

Soil Friends

When looking for locally made ciders, it would be a mistake to miss Soil Friends, a family-run farm in Galesburg. They create “health-conscious” ciders that don’t have any added sugar. Their ciders come in a variety of flavors, from the interesting and delicious Strawberry Peachapeno (a mix of jalapeno, peach and strawberry) to their best-selling Cinnamon Sugar and Honey Apple ciders. They source their juice from local producers and grow many of the flavor additions on their own farm.

Soil Friends’ tasting room is on the farm and open during spring, summer and fall. They also have seven canned ciders that can be purchased at area Meijer, Harding's, Mega Bev and Fresh Thyme stores.

Soil Friends is located at 1701 N. 33rd St. For information on business hours, visit soilfriends.com.

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 11

Cultivating Community

After 11 years, AACORN is growing strong


ust as it takes many seasons for an acorn to become a mighty oak, AACORN's evolution has been many years in the making.

AACORN, an acronym for Adult Agricultural Community Options for Residential Needs, was formed in 2001 by several area parents and Dr. Liz Farner, a pediatrician and mental health care provider, to create a therapeutic farm program for adults with autism and other developmental differences.

“My son was having issues with the day program he was in, and when he got to be too aggressive, I had to start thinking, ‘What else could I do or what else could be done?’” says Cindy Semark, AACORN board president and one of the original founding board members.

Semark knew of a therapy farm environment in Ohio for adults like her son Jeremiah, who had autism and intellectual differences, and she knew that Farner was already engaged in doing farm therapy

in Southwest Michigan. Along with other parents of adult children with developmental differences, Semark and Farner formed the core group that created AACORN.

AACORN is focused specifically on adults because support for children with developmental differences dries up after they leave high school, says Farner.

“We really want to work with adults. The kids get so much support, and by 18 it starts to decrease and then by 26 it's gone,” she says.

12 | ENCORE APRIL 2024
Brian K. Powers

That mission is what attracted Mary Pickett, who became the organization’s executive director in December. “I am all in because it is an unmet need and is one that too many people don't think about,” says Pickett. “People think they have kids and they grow up and they go to college and they get married, but they don't think about that sector of the population that continues to need to rely on their family or other people.”

Expanding focus

AACORN started small, first renting space at Tillers International, a teaching farm near Scotts, but it outgrew that space quickly. “We then went to Lake Village Homestead, which had 200 acres on Long Lake (in Portage) and goats, cows and pigs. We rented space from them for a long time, but we were in a very small basement room,” says Farner. “So then when Tillers said they were selling property, we jumped on it and we bought the property.”

AACORN had three participants when it began. Today it has more than 30 who come on a regular basis. One of those participants, Tom Pinto, has been coming every day since it started 11 years ago.

Semark says AACORN started with an emphasis on providing services for people on the autism spectrum but has expanded its mission to allow “others who struggle with a lot of stimuli and need a quieter atmosphere, smaller group sizes and a slower pace.”

This quieter atmosphere is one of the reasons that AACORN appeals to its participants, says Pickett. “Many of the participants have

Clockwise from far left: AACORN Executive Director Mary Pickett, left, with board members Dr. Liz Farner and Cindy Semark; chickens and other animals the participants raise; participants prepare a plot for planting; a view of the farm facilities; and a goat being raised on the farm.


sensory-related differences that can make loud areas or large groups uncomfortable.

“Not only does it address their individual need for things to not be so busy and loud, but,” Pickett says, then motions around, “it's 50 degrees today and you've got the participants just walking at their own pace and doing what they want.”

Not everyone has the same needs when it comes to programs like AACORN, notes

Farner, who says that other existing adult programs tend to be more workshop-style, with many participants at one time.

“It's just not the option that our participants needed,” says Farner, who is currently the vice president of the AACORN board of directors. “We filled a little niche that needed to be filled. There needs to be a lot more programs like ours because we can't expand to include all the people that are in the area that probably need

When AACORN first appeared in Encore

In honor of Encore’s 50th anniversary, we are revisiting stories from past issues and providing updates. Encore first wrote about AACORN in April 2014 when AACORN was renting space at Tillers International and had a handful of participants. To read the original story, visit encorekalamazoo.com/a-different-way-ofknowing/.

our services, because then our participants wouldn't feel comfortable here.”

Participants raise animals such as goats, pigs and chickens and grow vegetables and flowers. Products they make from what they raise, such as goat milk soap, spice mixes and salsa, are sold to visitors and local neighbors.

“The thing about farming chores or tasks is that, especially with animals, they're very routine and you need to do it every day. And that really resonates well with our participants, who like a routine and want some meaning and purpose,” says Semark.

At the same time, participants are also exposed to the activities of daily living, like cooking, shopping and cleaning.

“They get a wide range of things that they're exposed to here. We're currently partnered with Tillers, helping them do some cleaning in exchange for blacksmithing classes,” Farner says.

Not only do the participants reap the benefits of working at AACORN, they also get out into the community by volunteering at Loaves and Fishes and working at the Richland Farmers Market. And AACORN hosts community volunteers, including students from local colleges and universities and from corporations such as Stryker and Pfizer.

AACORN plans to add on-site residences for the participants to live in long-term.

“That is still a bit in the future," says Semark, "but we have the property and we just need more people on our planning committee. We do have drawings drawn up, and we hope to move that along within this year and years to come. It’ll be set up so that they can age here.”

“That's the dream,” agrees Farner.

14 | ENCORE APRIL 2024

Something to hold on to Baby dolls give dementia patients smiles, comfort

When Patricia Straub — known as Grandma Pattie to her family — developed dementia at age 85, her circle of friends and family found it more difficult to have conversations with her. Losing the ability to communicate is one of the main symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“Someone at the facility where she lived at that point gave her a doll baby,” says her granddaughter Aimee Potts. “We saw the change almost immediately. It was a beautiful thing — Grandma Pattie could

talk to us about her baby. She would dress it and care for it. Grandma Pattie had had eight children in her lifetime, three of whom had passed away as babies, and her reaction to this doll baby was an instant smile. We finally had something that we could talk to her about.”

Potts even observed behavior changes in her grandmother. While she had shown a fear of taking a shower as her dementia progressed,

Aimee Potts, co-founder of Ladies with Babies, with some of the lifelike dolls they present to patients with dementia.
Brian K. Powers

with the baby doll near, she was able to get through daily habits with ease.

“It was a game changer,” Potts says. “We couldn’t tell if she was aware that it was a doll rather than a real baby, but it didn’t seem to matter. The baby brought the smile back to her face.”

Potts noticed that "Li'l Bit," another woman at the facility, admired Grandma Pattie’s baby doll, so she gave Li'l Bit a doll of her own.

“After Lil' Bit passed away, I had to wonder if the baby had brought her some comfort in her last days and possibly even the last hours of life,” Potts says. “That was when I felt like God shared with me that this was something I could do for others. It wasn't long after that that my own grandma passed away, and shortly after that we started Ladies with Babies.”

Benefits of doll therapy

The idea for Ladies with Babies, which donates baby dolls to dementia patients, took shape in 2020, and in 2022 Potts, along with her husband, Marvin, established it as a nonprofit organization. Board members also include their son, Devan, who works in elder care, and Mary Ross, a hospice certified nursing assistant.

More than just a source of comfort, doll therapy is a nonpharmacological treatment that "has the potential to enhance personal well-being through increased levels of communication

and engagement with others,” according to the National Library of Medicine.

Ladies with Babies has been donating baby dolls to patients in senior-care and memory-care facilities throughout Michigan, with an emphasis on Kalamazoo and Jackson, and the Potts family members say they have observed positive reactions from the recipients time and time again.

“By now, we have donated more than 100 of these dolls to patients," Aimee Potts says. "We focus on families that might not be able to afford these dolls, such as patients at Medicaid facilities. And we work with social care workers to find those who could really use them.

"Again and again, we see those smiles on people’s faces. Families tell us the dolls give them something that they can bond over again. The babies can bring back happy memories. Health-care workers tell us they see a reduction in stress, a decrease in wandering and confusion, and better sleep. Patients are more open to taking their medication.”

Ladies with Babies funds its program through donations — people can sponsor a baby doll for $70 plus $2.59 in processing fees.

“We use all kinds of dolls that are gender-neutral and come in four different skin tones,” Potts says. “We work with a company in Florida that gives us a discount on the dolls, and Little Sprouts in Kalamazoo gives us a discount for these adorable baby doll outfits. It’s a huge blessing.”

16 | ENCORE APRIL 2024
Above: Aimee Potts checks in with her grandmother and her baby doll as they rest. Right: Grandma Pattie with her baby doll. Bottom left: Donations help Ladies with Babies offset the costs for the dolls, like this one, which cost about $75.

When a patient receives a doll, Ladies with Babies does a photo shoot, capturing those priceless smiles.

“One facility in Jackson actually threw a baby shower when a patient received a doll,” Potts says. “The dolls can remind some (people) of their own children, but they also go to people who perhaps were never able to have children of their own due to a disability or being developmentally disabled. You can see the comfort the babies bring them.”

Men benefit, too

Although most of the patients receiving the dolls are women, occasionally a man may wish to hold one, Potts notes.

“Usually, people working at the facilities help us identify who might benefit most by having a doll,” she says. “But there was an older gentleman who requested one. He used to be a pediatrician, and he also had a younger brother who had passed away. He came to an adult day-care center, and the workers saw him hold a doll. The next day he reported dreaming about his own children as babies.”

Although there are few studies on the benefits of doll therapy, Potts says she has seen only positive responses.

“I hope to see more research into doll therapy,” she says. “I’ve seen patients who had become combative as a symptom of dementia become calm when given a baby doll. It relieves their stress. And look at it this way, there are no side effects with these dolls as there are with medications.”

To learn more, visit LadieswithBabies.org.

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Every two years, a bunch of piano players come to Kalamazoo in the spring.

Some play grands, some play barroom uprights, some on exotic keyboards like a harpsichord or a Hammond B3. They play jazz, classical, funk, Broadway, pop renditions of Japanese film scores, Celtic sounds, and Zulu-influenced storytelling/jazz. You know, the usual.

Yet, after 34 years, and 16 festivals, counting this year, some people might be feeling a bit jaded about the Irving S. Gilmore International Piano Festival. If you are one of those people, slap yourself. Talent like this doesn't come to Kalamazoo most years.

"I think, really, truly, the big deal is the fact that something like this even exists here in Kalamazoo," says Pierre van der Westhuizen, Gilmore executive and artistic director. "This is the sort of thing that you would see in major metropolitan markets like New York, Chicago, San Francisco."

This year at The Gilmore, which runs April 24–May 12, you'll have a chance to see the kind of talent that's so astounding that scientists have scanned the brain of one of the musicians to see how it ticks.

Neurologists actually put Venezuelan classical pianist and composer Gabriela Montero in MRI machines with a small keyboard and asked her to play.

Montero, whose festival performance is May 1, "can on-the-spot improvise very complex classical forms, which seems impossible," says van der Westhuizen. "Her mind is so extraordinary that scientists from MIT, Harvard and Johns Hopkins have studied her brain to figure out what's going on when she's improvising. They figured out that she actually goes into a trance-like state."

With each festival, The Gilmore brings in many artists who've never played in Kalamazoo, and some who rarely play in the U.S. such as Nduduzo Makhatini who is from van der Westhuizen's home country of South Africa. When he performs here April 30, Makhatini will bring a spell-binding mix of John and Alice Coltrane-influenced, Zulubased jazz, bound in the oral and musical culture of his home of the KwaZulu-Natal province.

Even without lyrics, Makhatini's music "is storytelling, he really truly thinks of his playing as that, because that's in the African culture," explains van der Westhuizen. "Everything is about storytelling, music is just part of their everyday life, and this is the way that many traditions and history are brought forward from one generation to another. It'll be very much a different kind of jazz than what we've had here before."

The 2024 Gilmore will also include a number of familiar names.

Gilmore Artists Piotr Anderszewski (2002), Ingrid Filter (2006) and Kirill Gerstein (2010) will all return to Kalamazoo to perform and Yuja Wang, the Gilmore Young Artist in 2006, will show on May 8 why she's developed superstar status in the years since. Crowd favorite Pink Martini, with vocalist China Forbes, will be back for their third Gilmore performance; the first two were nearly sold out. And Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires, who is celebrated in Europe but rarely plays in this country, will be familiar to those who saw her perform her first Gilmore set in 2023 at Stetson Chapel.

And then there's Patti LuPone, the Broadway great who will present her one-woman show, A Life in Notes, at Miller Auditorium on May 12, performing numbers from her acclaimed roles on Broadway.

With more than 100 live music and other keyboard-themed events, including master classes, talks, family concerts and film screenings, it's hard not to keep dropping names.

But those who peruse the 40-page program brochure for the festival are encouraged by festival leaders to not just pick what they like or are familiar with, but to seize the chance to broaden their musical horizons. Think of it like a chance to eat at a fine restaurant, savoring dishes created by a chef skilled at cuisine from around the world.

"That's a great way of describing it," van der Westhuizen says. "I read an interesting article about how fine dining was very exclusive a couple decades ago, and now fine dining has become so much more accessible and about trying cuisines from different cultures.”

Toward that end, van der Westhuizen suggests people sample as much of the festival as possible, such as seeing a concert in each genre. The Gilmore is about "the experience and not just sitting there and hearing one thing," he says.

"I would invite people to really experience the festival as a full immersion. Go see a master class in the morning, catch a film at noon, catch one of our lectures."

But, what about those of us who have jobs?

"It's a good time to put in some vacation time," he says, laughing.

What it brings to Kalamazoo

There are, in fact, many people who probably do just that in order to attend The Gilmore. And among those taking in the festival, a large portion come from beyond Kalamazoo County, contributing a significant economic impact to the area.

Based on the zip codes of ticket purchasers, 38% of the visitors who attended the 2022 festival were from outside of Kalamazoo County. And of those who attended the 2018 festival, 41% came from out of the county, according to numbers provided by Discover Kalamazoo's director of marketing and communications, Dana Wagner.

The 2022 festival pumped an estimated $4 million into the local economy, 13% more than the 2018 festival (the last in-person festival, as the 2020 festival was presented onlline due to the Covid-19 pandemic).

Some of that impact came from the musicians and their entourages. Anders Dahlberg, the festival's Director of Operations, says a simple visual to see the impact of the festival is by counting "hotel rooms." For the 2024 artists and their entourages, for example, more than 300 rooms had to be booked.

"I started last July getting the hotel rooms held so that we would be certain to have everyone in our accommodations partner, the Radisson Hotel," Dahlberg says.

The economic impact is greatest, however, from the audience members — from locals to out-of-towners — "somebody who comes in, goes to a concert, has a meal, stays at a hotel, walks around

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Jazzed about The Gilmore

Jazzed about The Gilmore

From economic impact to international stature, the piano festival continues to put Kalamazoo on the map

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 19
Brian K. Powers

downtown, spends their money here," says van der Westhuizen.

That jibes with what Wagner says. "Visitor spending is a key measure of the economic impact of tourism to local economies and includes all purchases made by travelers during their visits, not just at hotels but also at restaurants, retail shops, attractions and other businesses that support the visitor experience. This spending creates job and entrepreneurship opportunities and helps sustain the businesses that both residents and visitors enjoy.

"In 2022, visitor spending in Kalamazoo County reached an all-time high of $681 million which directly supported 7,131 jobs or 8.9% of the county employment."

Its cultural impacts

Aside from giving the area an economic boost, The Gilmore strives to have cultural impacts, both big and small, on its home community, Dahlberg and van der Westhuizen say, and this starts with the youngest community members.

The Gilmore offers free Baby Grands concerts for "children from 0 to 5, so that they can come and hear live music on their own terms," Dahlberg says. Gilmore musicians perform concerts in a venue without stages or seats, allowing kids to crawl around, play, dance and engage with the music. During October's Baby Grands performance by jazz pianist Esteban Castro at the Willard Library in Battle Creek, Castro performed a little call-and-response with a child. The young musician was hitting the high keys while Castro tried to match the improvised solo on the lower register.

"That kind of experience for that kid, and for the people watching it, is the kind of thing that you take with you for your entire life," Dahlberg says.

Making the festival accessible for as many other community members as possible is also important to the organizers.

While the festival attracts music aficionados from around the world, the organizers want locals to attend too, so The Gilmore makes an effort to keep ticket prices affordable, van der Westhuizen says.

Tickets for Gilmore performances, with a few exceptions, range between $18 and $50 and are "a fraction of the price you would typically pay in metro markets," he says. (Two exceptions this year are tickets for Patti LuPone's and Pink Martini's appearances which range from $30 to $80). Student tickets for most performances are only $7.

And thanks to a grant from the Stryker Corp., there is a Gilmore Community Pass that gives people free access to concerts and other events. It's available to participating organizations that serve people who might otherwise be unable to attend a concert and organizations devoted to educating youth and adults. Past participating organizations include Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan; the Bureau of Blind Persons Training Center; Ministry with Community; Merze Tate Explorers; and Kalamazoo Public Schools Adult Education.

It's also intentional that The Gilmore brings a diversity of musical genres and cultures to Kalamazoo. "Seeing someone like yourself on stage, no matter what your background is, where you're from or what your socioeconomic status, is a very powerful thing," van der Westhuizen says. "We firmly believe that that diversity makes the festival so much stronger, that it changes the narrative about The Gilmore and what it's for and who it's for.

"This (festival) at its core is designed to broaden horizons for the community here. As a kid growing up in South Africa, I didn't even have awareness of Japan, let alone meeting somebody from there or seeing them in my hometown. I just think it brings the world closer."

At the same time, international musicians get to experience the Kalamazoo community as well. "We make space for them to interact with the community. That's different from other festivals where they kind of just helicopter in and out and off they go. This is a chance for them to connect," Dahlberg says.

For example, when 26-year-old French pianist Alexandre Kantorow came here last September after being named the 2024 Gilmore Artist, he didn't have a clue about this city with the unusual name in a U.S. state he had never visited.

"He had no idea what to expect," Dahlberg says Kantorow told him, "but he didn't expect this much love, this much warmth, friendliness. He was really blown away by people who made him feel part of the community."

It's getting jazzier

The Gilmore always has a variety of genres, but this year's festival puts an increased focus on jazz. There will be an equal number of jazz and classical sets, which "is intentional," van der Westhuizen says.

The festival will open April 24 with a melding of jazz and classical performed by Hiromi and PUBLIQuartet. Hiromi puts the piano jazz of the past century into a blender, and reconstructs it into something new, adding international sounds and modern pop elements. She's been known to stand and dance as she plays, reaching into the grand piano to pluck at its strings as if the keys weren't enough.

She'll be backed by the PUBLIQuartet, a string quartet whose Grammy-nominated album What Is American (2022) explores blues, jazz, rock and contemporary sounds, all in a look at Dvořák’s "American" string quartet.

"What really excites me about that event is it kind of represents the future of The Gilmore, where we're going with this balance, this fusion between classical and jazz," van der Westhuizen says.

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This new emphasis on jazz is thanks to retired Kalamazoo brewmaster Larry Bell, who gave the $8 million that created The Gilmore's new Larry J. Bell Jazz Artist Award and its new Larry J. Bell Young Jazz Artist Award. Secret jurors have been out at clubs and concert halls around the world looking for the winners, who will be announced in 2026.

"I'm envisioning a day in the not-too-distant future where the (classical) Gilmore Artists and the Bell Jazz Artists would start interacting and having musical conversations, with new things being born out of that — kind of like Hiromi is having this conversation with this string quartet," van der Westhuizen says.

An increased emphasis on jazz seems like a natural extension for the festival, at least to Seth Abramson, who says he's wondered why Kalamazoo — being right between two historically jazz-centered cities, Chicago and Detroit — doesn't host more jazz sets.

Based in New York City, Abramson became the Gilmore director of jazz awards in 2022. He's a guitarist who's played alongside Terence Blanchard and has worked as an agent, producer and presenter for a long list of jazz names. Until the pandemic closed the club, Abramson was the founding artistic director at the Jazz Standard in Manhattan for over 20 years.

For most of his life he's enjoyed "the spoils of New York City," where there's a selection of live jazz most nights but says he has become familiar with Kalamazoo in the past couple of years.

"I've been incredibly impressed with the community of Kalamazoo in terms of just how much it's an arts culture, and supportive of this arts culture in the community," he says.

Kalamazoo might not be a jazz hotbed, but it does have Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College teaching jazz players in their music departments and hosting jazz concerts, Abramson points out. And it has its own jazz history — vocalist Abby Lincoln, for whom Abramson served as an agent before she died in 2010, was a 1949 graduate of Kalamazoo Central and had her first public performance at Chenery Auditorium.

"Which is incredible," Abramson says. "That's great history right there."

In addition to overseeing the Bell award, Abramson has helped The Gilmore fill out the 2024 festival's jazz schedule, which includes Shai Maestro (“a very interesting and unique pianist," Abramson says); Paul Cornish, a finalist at last year's Herbie Hancock International Piano Competition, who was recently nabbed by saxophonist Joshua Redman to be his touring pianist; and Isaiah J. Thompson, another "young cat," Abramson says, who has been winning awards and working with the likes of Wynton Marsalis.

"In his short career, he is already turning some heads, or ears, if you will. He is a pretty exciting new jazz pianist on the scene," Abramson says.

Abramson isn't about to pick-and-choose his favorites, but on his must-see list is, "of course, Kenny Barron, a legend and a master ... Any opportunity to see him with his trio is one not to be missed." And Helen Sung, he says, "is an incredible pianist and always delivers a fantastic show."

Some Gilmore jazz artists are new even to Abramson. He's looking forward to his first time seeing the soul jazz of organist Delvon Lamarr, who's "really taking a look back and forward" with a retro sound that connects with the current neo-soul world, that's all "jazz and funk and soul and groove-oriented."

Abramson says he's also never seen Makhatini, who, he notes "definitely has his own individuality and approach. This is an amazing opportunity to catch someone who's a really special performer. He doesn't tour a lot in the States."

Abramson hopes even hardcore jazz fans will hear something new at The Gilmore. "It's important for us as an organization, in addition to highlighting the established, legendary names, to provide options for people to discover artists they aren't familiar with as well."

He recommends jazz fans bring friends, bring "a young person... get them away from their video games and their TikToks," he says with a laugh, to hear sounds from this century that should be fresh, new and alive.

"Yeah, that's the beauty of it. It's a living breathing art form. It's on a constant evolutionary course."

Just like The Gilmore itself.

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 21
Among the artists performing at this year's Gilmore International Piano Festival are, clockwise from top left, Nduduzo Makhatini, Patti Lupone and Yuja Wang.


John&Abigail: AnAmericanLove Story

April 26–May 11

New Vic Theatre

Jim and Jennifer Furney take on the roles of John Adams and Abigail Smith in this production that explores the relationship between one of the United States' founding fathers and his wife of more than 50 years.

Show times are 8 p.m. April 26 and 27 and May 3, 4, 10 and 11 at the New Vic, 134 E. Vine St. Tickets are $32 and available online at thenewvictheatre.org.


April 5–14

WMU Theatre

This musical based on the longtime Nickelodeon animated series explores how the citizens of Bikini Bottom come together to save their undersea world from a volcanic eruption. It will be presented in Western Michigan University's Shaw Theatre.

The production features original songs by Yolanda Adams, Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's, They Might Be Giants and more.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 5 and 12 and 2 p.m. April 7 and 14. Tickets are $7–$24 and are available by calling 387-6222.


April 5–14

Kalamazoo Civic

This revue of music by original "boy bands" — 1950s close-harmony groups such as the Four Aces — tells the story of The Plaids, four young singers killed in a car crash who posthumously take the stage for one final gig. The local cast includes Kevin Taylor (Jinx), Matthew Schuster (Francis), Cody Watson (Sparky) and Isaiah Lee (Smudge). Watson and Lee are both making their Civic debuts.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 5, 6, 12 and 13 and 2 p.m. April 7 and 14 in the Carver Center Studio, 426 S. Park St. Tickets are $17–$30 and available at 343-1313 or kazoocivic.com.

Disney’s The LionKingJr.

April 19–28

Civic Youth Theatre

Perfect for little lion lovers, this family-friendly musical presents the tale of Simba, a lion cub struggling to accept his destiny as king. It features several classic songs from the 1994 animated film The Lion King

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 19 and 26; 10 a.m. April 20, 24, 25 and 27; and 2 p.m. April 20, 21, 27 and 28 in the Parish Theatre, 405 S. Lovell St. Tickets are available at 343-1313 or kazoocivic.com.


April 19–27

Face Off Theatre

This Youth Play Series production tells the story of Relia, a Black girl in North Carolina in the 1960s, who is searching for her place to shine in both society and her personal life amid the rising tensions of the Civil Rights Movement.

Relia's memories of magical moments stargazing with her father help guide her as she risks her life to be a part of the "Dream" and the "Big Freedom."

The show is directed by Khadijah Brown, and show times are 7:30 p.m. April 19, 20 and 27 and 2:30 p.m. April 27 in the Jolliffe Theatre, in the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. Tickets are on a pay-what-you-want basis and available at faceofftheatre.com.


April 25–May 12

Farmers Alley Theatre

This production, presented in collaboration with the Gilmore International Piano Festival, provides an intimate portrait of famed composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

The production gives an inside look at the artist's personal life and artistic process and includes video interviews and performances of songs from Sondheim shows, including West Side Story, Company, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sunday in the Park with George, Merrily We Roll Along, Passion, and Into the Woods.

Show times are April 25–May 12 at Farmers Alley Theatre. Tickets are $25–$52 and available at 343-2727 or farmersalleytheatre.com.

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April 11–21

Queer Theatre Kalamazoo

An interracial lesbian couple's journey to get pregnant using a sperm donor is the focus of this production, which will be staged at Crawlspace Comedy Theatre, 315 W. Michigan Ave.

The play was written by Ann Arbor-based playwright and poet Dawn Richberg, who earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Western Michigan University, and the local production is directed by Connor Klock.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 11, 12, 19, and 20 and 2 p.m. April 21. Tickets are on a name-your-price basis and available at queertk.org.

Comedy Performances

Throughout the month

Various venues

Comedy fans will have several chances to take in improv or stand-up performances this month.


April 27

All Ears Theatre

This story of a lonely farmer who wants a wife will be performed at 6 p.m. April 27 at the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition, 315 W. Michigan Ave.

The free, live, all-audio production will be recorded and broadcast at a later date, primarily on SoundCloud. For more information, visit allearstheatre.org.

A free Early Bird Comedy Open Mic is scheduled for 8 p.m. April 1 at Crawlspace Comedy Theatre, 315 W. Michigan Ave. and an all-ages improv Family Show, featuring the Crawlspace Eviction improv group and the Kids Improv Team, starts there at 1 p.m. April 6. For more information, visit crawlspacecomedy.com.

Dormouse Theatre, at 1030 Portage Road, will feature performances by three local improv groups:

• Joyce II Men, with live music from XYZ, 7 p.m. April 5.

• Blunder Bus, 7:30 p.m. April 19.

• Canned Champagne, 7:30 p.m. April 26.

Tickets are $10 for each Dormouse show. For tickets or more information, visit dormousetheatre.com.

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Author Talks

Throughout the month

Various venues

A number of authors and poets will give readings and/or in-person talks this month:

• Kai Harris, author of the novel What the Fireflies Knew, will give a 10 a.m. craft talk and a 2:15 p.m. reading on April 4 at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Student Commons Theater, 6767 West O Ave.

• Poets Gail Griffin and Aaron Coleman will read at 7 p.m. April 6 at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave. Suite 103A.

• Bonnie Jo Campbell will speak on her latest novel, The Waters, at 7 p.m. April 4 at Richland Community Library, 8951 Park St.

• Parvinder Mehta will read from her recent poetry anthology, On Wings of Words, at 6:30 p.m. April 16 at the Kalamazoo Public Library's Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St.

Kalamazoo Poetry Festival

April 6, 19 & 20

Various venues

This annual celebration of poetry and local poets will feature these events:

• A thematic poetry workshop for youth of middle school and high school age at noon April 6 at Read & Write Kalamazoo, 802 S. Westnedge Ave.


• Angeline Boulley, author of the novel Firekeeper’s Daughter, will speak at 6:30 p.m. April 16 at the Portage Zhang Senior Center, 203 E. Centre Ave.

• Harry Dolan will discuss his book Don’t Turn Around, a thriller, at 6 p.m. April 17 at Richland Community Library.

• Aubrey Begauer, author of Run It Like a Business: Strategies for Arts Organizations to Increase Audiences, Remain Relevant and Multiply Money without Losing the Art, will speak at 11 a.m. April 29 at the Kalamazoo Public Library, Central Branch.

In addition, KPL will host online talks by these authors:

• Paula J. Johnson, author of The Foods, People and Innovations That Feed Us: A Sweeping History of Food and Culture, at 2 p.m. April 2.

• Diane Foley and Colum McCann, authors of From Murder to Atonement: Confronting My Son’s Killer, at 2 p.m. April 9.

• Xochitl Gonzalez, author of A Literary Examination of Power, Love, and Art, at 8 p.m. April 17.

Registration is required for the online talks. To register, visit kpl.gov.

• An open-mic event at 6 p.m. April 19 at Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative, 1249 Portage St.

• A Celebration of Community Poets at 6 p.m. April 20 at the Northside Association for Community Development, 612 N. Park St. The festival, being held during National Poetry Month, is free. To register or for more information, visit kalamazoopoetryfestival.com.

24 | ENCORE APRIL 2024
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April 27–June 13

Westminster Art Festival

The nature of the relationship between human beings and land will be explored in this annual festival that features a juried exhibition of visual art and poetry.

The festival is held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1515 Helen Ave., in Portage. It will begin with a concert by the Irish folk band Selkie at 5 p.m. April 27. Other festival events include an awards presentation at 5 p.m. May 10, an open-mic poetry reading at 6 p.m. May 31, and a closing celebration with a performance by the brass quintet The Five Directions at 5 p.m. June 13.

For more information, visit westminsterartfestival.org.

TheArtofPlayingwith Knowledge:Worksby AngelaLorenz

April 5–May 24

Kalamazoo Book Arts Center

This exhibition by a New England-based artist will feature research-driven art projects that use a variety of materials and processes. Lorenz's work centers on material culture and visual culture and language, and her processes include watercolor painting, photography, printmaking, papermaking, letterpress, felting, sewing and paper engineering.

A reception for the artist will be held at 5 p.m. April 5 at the KBAC, at 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A.

In addition, Lorenz will present a lecture about her work at 5:30 p.m. April 4 in Room 2008 of Western Michigan University's Richmond Center for Visual Arts.

The KBAC is open from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday. For more information, visit kalbookarts.org.


Ongoing Exhibitions

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts: American Realism: Visions of America, 1900-1950 — through April 14

High School Area Show — through April 28

Kyungmi Shin: A Story to Finding Us — through May 12


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Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Throughout the month

Various venues

Audiences will have three chances to enjoy the KSO this month, including two performances featuring opera.

The KSO Community Concert, set for 7 p.m. April 9 at First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St., will feature works by Italian composers Gabrieli, Corelli and Puccini and others. The event is free, but a ticket is required.

An Evening of Opera with the KSO, at 6 p.m. April 12 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, will include a fundraising dinner, auction and KSO musicians performing favorites from the Puccini opera Tosca.

Tickets are $125.

On April 19, the KSO will perform Tosca at 7 p.m. in Miller Auditorium. The program will feature guest vocalists and the Kalamazoo Children's and Kalamazoo Symphony Opera choruses. Tickets are $5–$68.

For tickets or more information, visit kalamazoosymphony.com.


April 21

Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

Pianist Harmony Zhu, a 2024 Gilmore Young Artist, will be featured in this concert featuring works by Dvorák and Rachmaninoff.

It's set for 4 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium. Tickets are $5–$15 and available at 349-7557 or kjso.org.


April 13

Kalamazoo Concert Band

Astrophysicist Paul Pancella and flutist Julianna Staufer of Kalamazoo, the winner of the Concert Band's 2024 Youth Soloist Competition, will be featured in this performance that goes on a musical exploration of the universe.

The free concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave. For more information, visit kalamazooconcertband.org.

Kalamazoo Ringers

April 27

Three Rivers Presbyterian Church

This concert, set for 7 p.m., will feature the 17 ringers of the group playing handbells and hand chimes.

The church where they'll perform is at 320 N. Main St., in Three Rivers. The performance is free, but an offering will be taken. For more information, visit kalamazooringers.org.

The Irving S. Gilmore

International Piano Festival

April 24–May 12

Various venues

More than 100 internationally renowned artists will perform in Southwest Michigan during this 19day festival celebrating all things piano. Guest artists include Patti LuPone, Hiromi, Yuja Wang, Pink Martini, Kenny Barron and Eliane Elias. (See full story on page 18.)

Ticket prices vary for performances. Visit thegilmore.org for the full schedule and ticket information.

Please consider supporting the ARTS, so we can continue to promote, support, and create opportunities for artists and art organizations through funding, grants, and technical assistance.

26 | ENCORE APRIL 2024
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WMU School of Music

Throughout the month

Various venues

A flurry of concerts this month will finish the performance season for Western Michigan University's School of Music. Unless noted, performances will be in the university's Dalton Center Recital Hall and are free. Scheduled this month are:

Abigail Walsh — Flute, 7:30 p.m. April 1.

University Jazz Lab Band — 7:30 p.m. April 2.

WMU Trombone Choir — 7:30 p.m. April 3.

Gold Company II — WMU vocal jazz group, 7:30 p.m. April 4.

Student Composers III — WMU student recital, 7:30 p.m. April 5.

Atlantic Suite — Western Jazz Collective and University Jazz Orchestra performing music by Phil Nimmons, 7:30 p.m. April 6, Dalton Center Recital Hall, tickets $5–$15. To purchase tickets, go to wmich.edu/music/events.

University Percussion Ensemble — 3 p.m. April 7.

Opera Workshop — Presented by WMU Opera, 7:30 p.m. April 9.

WMU Drum Choir — 5 p.m. April 10.

Spring Conference for Wind and Percussion Music — With University Wind Symphony and Kevin Day All-Star Band, 7:30 p.m. April 11, Miller Auditorium.

Choral Showcase — Featuring Amphion, Anima and University Chorale choruses, 7:30 p.m. April 13.

University Symphonic Band & University Concert Band — 3 p.m. April 14.

Chamber Music Showcase — 7:30 p.m. April 15.

65th Annual Concerto Concert — University Symphony Orchestra, 3 p.m. April 21.

For more info, visit wmich.edu/music.

American Brass Quintet

April 20

Fontana Chamber Arts

This performance by an ensemble recognized as "the most distinguished” of brass quintets (American Record Guide) will wrap up Fontana's 2023-24 season at 7:30 p.m. in Western Michigan University's Dalton Center Recital Hall.

The American Brass Quintet, founded in 1960, has performed on five continents, made more than 60 recordings, and premiered more than 150 contemporary brass works.


Tickets are $15–$30 and available at fontanamusic.org or by calling 250-9684.

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SPUNK! — An interracial lesbian couple’s journey to find a sperm donor, presented by Queer Theatre Kalamazoo, 7:30 p.m. April 11, 12, 19 & 20, 2 p.m. April 21, Crawlspace Comedy Theatre, 315 W. Michigan Ave., queertk.org.

Northstar — A young Black girl searching for her place to shine in North Carolina in the 1960s, 7:30 p.m. April 19, 20 & 27, 2:30 p.m. April 27, Face Off Theater Company, Jolliffe Theater, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, faceofftheatre.com.

John&Abigail:AnAmericanLoveStory— The historical romance between John Adams & Abigail Smith, 8 p.m. April 26–27, May 3–4 & 10–11; New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., thenewvictheatre.org.


Forever Plaid — Four young singers killed in a car crash take the stage posthumously for one final gig, 7:30 p.m. April 5–6 & 12–13, 2 p.m. April 7 & 14, Carver Center Studio, 426 S. Park St., 343-1313, kazoocivic.com.

The SpongeBob Musical — Singing & dancing with the citizens of Bikini Bottom, 7:30 p.m. April 5 & 12, 2 p.m. April 7 & 14, Shaw Theatre, WMU, 387-6222, wmich.edu/theatre.

Disney’s The Lion King Jr. — Civic Youth Theatre presents this tale of a lion cub struggling to accept his destiny as king, 7:30 p.m. April 19 & 26, 10 a.m. April 20, 24–25 & 27, 2 p.m. April 20–21 & 27–28, Parish Theatre, 405 S. Lovell St., 343-1313, kazoocivic.com.

Sondheim on Sondheim — A portrait of the famed songwriter in his own words & music with interview footage, 7 p.m. April 25–27, May 2–4 & 9–11, 2 p.m. April 28, May 5 & 12; Farmers Alley Theatre, 221 Farmers Alley, 343-2727, farmersalleytheatre.com.


Sometime in June — An all-audio theater production written by Mark Savage, 6 p.m. April 27, Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition, 315 W. Michigan Ave., allearstheatre.org.


Bands & Solo Artists

J2B2 John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band — 7 p.m. April 4, Franke Center for the Arts, 214 E. Mansion St., Marshall, thefranke.org.

Bell’s Eccentric Café Concerts — Tim Kinsella & Jenny Pulse w/Fred Thomas, April 4; Cris Jacobs w/ Jessi Phillips, April 6; The 1985, April 12; A Taylor

Swift Experience, April 13; Carbon Leaf, April 17; Alejandro Escovedo w/James Mastro, April 19; Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, April 21; The Accidentals, April 26; The Insiders: A Tribute to Tom Petty, April 27; Sheer Mag w/Mighty Big Rig, April 29; Nduduzo Makhathini Quartet, 6 & 9 p.m. April 30; all other shows begin at 8 p.m., 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382–2332, bellsbeer.com.

Michigan Music Video Awards — The year’s best music videos by Michigan artists, with live performances, 8 p.m. April 6, Franke Center for the Arts, thefranke.org.

The Mountain Goats — Indie rock band, 8 p.m. April 9, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., kazoostate. com.

Katy Needs a Life, Bellhead, Palm Ghosts & Tambourina — Indie music, 7–10 p.m. April 12, Dormouse Theatre, 1030 Portage Road, dormousetheatre.com.

Home Free — Country music, 7:30 p.m. April 12, State Theatre, kazoostate.com.

OFB3 — Out of Favor Boys perform, 8 p.m. April 12, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., thenewvictheatre. org.

Cody Jinks — Country music, 7 p.m. April 13, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, wingseventcenter.com.

Blind Liars, Pet Me, Happy Day & Empress Eyes — Indie music, 7 p.m. April 13, Dormouse Theatre, dormousetheatre.com.

Queensrÿche w/ Armored Saint — Progressive metal, 8 p.m. April 13, State Theatre, kazoostate. com.

Fool House — Hip hop & pop punk, 8 p.m. April 19, Wings Event Center, wingseventcenter.com.

The Magic of Motown — A show with 15 vocalists and a six-piece band, 7:30 p.m. April 26, State Theatre, kazoostate.com.

Floyd Nation: Experience Pink Floyd — Tribute band, 7 p.m. April 28, State Theatre, kazoostate. com.

Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More

Flutist Abigail Walsh — Master class at 1 p.m., recital at 7:30 p.m. April 1, Dalton Center Lecture Hall, WMU, wmich.edu/music/events.

University Jazz Lab Band — 7:30 p.m. April 2, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, wmich.edu/ music/events.

WMU Trombone Choir — 7:30 p.m. April 3, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich.edu/music/events.

Gold Company II — 7:30 p.m. April 4, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich.edu/music/events.

Student Studio Recital — Student Composers III, 7:30 p.m. April 5, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich.edu/music/events.

Atlantic Suite — Western Jazz Collective & University Jazz Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. April 6, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich.edu/musicevents.

University Percussion Ensemble — 3 p.m. April 7, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich.edu/music/ events.

KSO Community Concert — Featuring works by Gabrieli, Corelli, Puccini, 7 p.m. April 9, First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St., kalamazoosymphony.com.

Opera Workshop — Presented by WMU Opera, 7:30 p.m. April 9, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich. edu/music/events.

WMU Drum Choir — 5 p.m. April 10, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich.edu/music/events.

Spring Conference for Wind & Percussion Music — University Wind Symphony & Kevin Day All-Star Band, 7:30 p.m. April 11, Miller Auditorium, wmich.edu/music/events.

An Evening of Opera with the KSO — Fundraising dinner, auction & KSO musicians performing favorites from Tosca, 6 p.m. April 12, Arcadia Ballroom, Radisson Plaza Hotel, 100 W. Michigan Ave., kalamazoosymphony.com.

Across the Universe — Kalamazoo Concert Band performs with the winner of the 2024 Youth Soloist Competition, flutist Julianna Staufer, 7:30 p.m. April 13, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., kalamazooconcertband.org.

Choral Showcase — Featuring Amphion, Anima & University Chorale, 7:30 p.m. April 13, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, wmich.edu/music/ events.

University Symphonic Band & University Concert Band — 3 p.m. April 14, venue to be announced, wmich.edu/music/events.

Chamber Music Showcase — 7:30 p.m. April 15, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich.edu/music/ events.

Opera Returns! Puccini’s Tosca — KSO Masterworks performance with guest vocalists, 7 p.m. April 19, Miller Auditorium, kalamazoosymphony.com.

American Brass Quintet — Chamber music, 7:30 p.m. April 20, Dalton Center Recital Hall, fontanamusic.org.

65th Annual Concerto Concert — University Symphony Orchestra, 3 p.m. April 21, Dalton Center Recital Hall, wmich.edu/music/events.

Spring Concert — Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra with 2024 Gilmore Young Artist Harmony Zhu, 4 p.m. April 21, Chenery Auditorium, 349-7557, kjso.org.

Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra — With vocalist Lana Hoffman, 7 p.m. April 24, The Dock at Bayview, 12504 East D Ave., Richland, 731-4911.

Irving S. Gilmore International Piano Festival Featuring world-class musicians celebrating piano repertoire, April 24–May 12, various locations; see thegilmore.org for full schedule.

Kalamazoo Ringers — Handbell & hand chime choir, 7 p.m. April 27, Three Rivers Presbyterian Church, 320 North Main St., Three Rivers, kalamazooringers.org.

28 | ENCORE APRIL 2024


Early Bird Comedy Open Mic — 8 p.m. April 1, Crawlspace Comedy Theatre, 315 W. Michigan Ave., crawlspacecomedy.com.

Improv Comedy Shows — Joyce II Men, with music from XYZ, 7 p.m. April 5; Blunder Bus, 7:30 p.m. April 19; Canned Champagne, 7:30 April 26; Dormouse Theatre, 1030 Portage Road, dormousetheatre.com.


Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775, kiarts.org


American Realism: Visions of America, 19001950 — Paintings, drawings & prints that sought to capture the American experience, through April 14.

KyungmiShin:AStorytoFindingUs — Selected works from the KIA’s Chinese ceramics collection & original works by Shin, through May 12.

High School Area Show — Works by Southwest Michigan students, March 30–April 28.


ARTbreak — Program about art, artists & exhibitions: Laughter is the Best Medicine: Humor in Art, talk by retired physician Jim Carter, April 2; Kirk Newman Art School Residents, talk by Kenni Dankert & Mary Ann Robertson, April 9; Kirk Newman Art School Resident, talk by Libby Bergeon, April 16; Building Safe Spaces, talk by Dell Darnell, April 23; Wonder of China: Blue & White Porcelain, film showing; sessions begin at noon in the KIA Auditorium; register online.

'Hogan-Minded': Race & Place in Georgia O’Keefe’s Southwest — Presentation by James Denison, 6 p.m. April 11.

Book Discussion — Kathleen Rooney's Dust to Stardust, 2 p.m., April 17.

ARTful Evening: Mythology & History — Presentation by artist Kyungmi Shin, 6 p.m. April 25.

Richmond Center for Visual Arts Western Michigan University, 387-2436, wmich.edu/art/galleries

LB Buchan — The sculptor gives a visiting artist lecture, 5:30 p.m. April 2, Room 2008.

Other Venues

The Art of Playing with Knowledge: Works by AngelaLorenz — Research-driven, multimedia art, April 5–May 24, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A; lecture, 5:30 p.m. April 4, Room 2008, Richmond Center for Visual Arts, WMU; reception, 5 p.m. April 5, KBAC; 3734938, kalbookarts.org.

Westminster Art Festival: Grounded — Annual exhibition combining visual art & poetry, April 27–June 13, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1515 Helen Ave., Portage, westminsterartfestival.org.


Comstock Township Library 6130 King Highway, 345-0136, comstocklibrary.org

CTL Writers — Group discussion of writing, 2:30 p.m. April 2.

Family Game Night — Play board & card games, 4:30–8 p.m. every Wednesday.

Adult Book Club — 1:30 p.m. April 11.

State Rep. Matt Hall Listening Hour — Discussion with the representative’s staff, noon April 17.

The History of Henna— Allison Loraine discusses & demonstrates henna art, 5 p.m. April 18; registration required.

Buck-a-Bag Book Sale — Fill a bag with books for $1, April 29–30.

Adult Book Club — Discussion of David Baron’s American Eclipse, 5:30 p.m. April 30; registration required.

Kalamazoo Public Library 553-7800, kpl.gov

KPL Mobile Library — 3:30–5 p.m. April 1, New Village Park/Heather Gardens, 2400 Albans Way; 11 a.m.–noon April 8, Ecumenical Senior Center, 702 N. Burdick St.; 3:30–5 p.m. April 11, Interfaith Homes, 1037 Interfaith Blvd.; 3–4 p.m. April 15, Douglass Apartments, 1211 Douglas Ave.; 3:30–4:30 p.m. April 17, Douglass Community Association, 1000 W. Paterson St.; 10–11 a.m. April 23, Lodge House, 1211 S. Westnedge Ave.; 3–4 p.m. April 23, Maple Grove Village, 735 Summit Ave.

Paula J. Johnson — Online talk by the author of The Foods, People & Innovations That Feed Us: A Sweeping History of Food & Culture, 2 p.m. April 2; registration required.

Hoopla, Libby & Kanopy, Oh My: The Digital Catalog at KPL — Two-part overview of accessing these services, 1 p.m. April 3 & 10, Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St.; registration required.

Music & Memories with Fiddlehead Music Therapy — Songs for older adults & discussion on how music stirs memories, 10:45 a.m. April 8, Oshtemo Branch.

Page Turners Book Club — Discussion of James McBride's The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, 6:30 p.m. April 8, Oshtemo Branch & online; registration required.

Rose Street Poetry Club — Reading & writing of poetry, 9 a.m. April 9, Study Room, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St.

Diane Foley & Colum McCann — Online talk with the authors of From Murder to Atonement— Confronting My Son’s Killer, 2 p.m. April 9; registration required.

Dungeons & Dragons Game Night — From beginner to experienced levels, 5:30 p.m. April 11, Central Library; registration required.

Parvinder Mehta — The poet reads from her recent anthology, On Wings of Words, 6:30 p.m. April 16, Oshtemo Branch.

Xochitl Gonzalez — Online talk by the author of A Literary Examination of Power, Love, & Art, 8 p.m. April 17; registration required.

Classics Revisited — Discussion of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, 2:30–4 p.m. April 18, Central Library & online; registration required.

Coffee & Connections — Chat with neighbors & library staff, with community resources & information, 9–11 a.m. April 22, Central Library.

Senior Citizens’ Breakfast — A hot breakfast & opportunity to ask health care questions, 10:30–noon April 26, Eastwood Branch, 1112 Gayle Ave.

Computer Scams & What Not to Click On — Learn about computer scams with guest instructor Michael Wilson, 12:30 p.m. April 26, Oshtemo Branch; registration required.

Kalamazoo Lyceum: Hope for our Community — Presentation & discussion, 2 p.m. April 27, Central Library.

Aubrey Begauer — Presentation by the author of Run It Like a Business: Strategies for Arts Organizations to Increase Audiences, Remain Relevant & Multiply Money Without Losing the Art, 11 a.m. April 29, Central Library.

For the People Poetry Workshop — Group for new & seasoned poets to write & share, led by Tasleem Jamila, 6:30–7:30 p.m. April 30, Northside Association of Community Development, 612 N. Park St.

Parchment Community Library

401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747, parchmentlibrary.org

Our Town: Parchment’s Early History — Three sessions presented by Cheryl Lyon-Jenness: How Parchment Came to Be, 1 p.m. April 3; How Parchment Grew, 1 p.m. April 10; How Parchment Changed, 1 p.m. April 17.

Solar Eclipse Watch Party – Viewing of partial eclipse outside (weather permitting), with live streams from totality inside, 1:45-4:30 p.m. April 8.

Parchment Book Group – Discussion of Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng, 6 p.m. April 15.

Silent Book Club – Bring a book & read in companionable silence, 5:15 p.m. April 22 & 1:15 p.m. April 24.

Yum’s the Word: Semifreddo – Cooking class, limited seating, paid reservation required.

Mystery Book Club – Discussion of Cara Black's Murder in the Marais, 6:30 p.m. April 30.

Portage District Library

300 Library Lane, 329-4544, portagelibrary.info

Yoga with Apral — Apral Milan-Corcoran leads an hour of movement, 4 p.m. April 1 & 15; registration required.

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 29

Kalamazoo County Historical Society — Speakers & discussion about local history, 7 p.m. April 1.

Swordsmanship: Pirate Cutlass Class — Swordsmanship Museum & Academy historian Jerry Berg discusses cutlass techniques, 2 p.m. April 2.

Mushrooms with Mycophile’s Garden — Presentation on how to cultivate mushrooms, 6 p.m. April 2.

Muffins & the Market — A discussion of recent stock market trends, 9 a.m. April 4 & 18.

The Basics of Investing with Options — Warren Fritz presents personal investment fundamentals, 10 a.m. April 4.

Speed Friending for Adults — Meet new people in this session for 60- to 80-year-olds, but all are welcome, 4 p.m. April 4; registration required.

Friends of the Library Book Sale — 9 a.m.–3 p.m. April 6; Friends of the Library members can shop early, 4–5:30 p.m. April 5.

'Unofficial' Catan Tournament — Pit your skills against other players, 6 p.m. April 9; registration required.

International Mystery Book Club — Discussion of Nev March’s Murder in Old Bombay, 7 p.m. April 11.

Documentary & Donuts — Viewing of The Martha Mitchell Effect, 10 a.m. April 12.

Classic Movie — Viewing of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, 1 p.m. April 13.

Sensory Night: Meet the Library — An introduction to the library for those with autism or sensory processing needs, 5:30 p.m. April 13.

Kalamazoo Valley Genealogical Society — Open to those interested in genealogy, 7 p.m. April 15.

Plots & Pages: A Local Writers Group — Author Mark Love discusses the craft of writing, 6 p.m. April 16.

Angeline Boulley — Meet the author of Firekeeper’s Daughter, 6:30 p.m. April 16, Portage Zhang Senior Center, 203 E. Centre Ave., portagelibrary.info.

Cookies & Conversation: Heartwarming Reads Book Club — Discussion of Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers, 2 p.m. April 17.

Family Trivia — Teams of up to 6 people, 6 p.m. April 17; registration required.

Chinese Tea Rituals — Presentation by Asian Initiatives of WMU's Haenicke Institute of Global Education, 2 p.m. April 18; registration required.

Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten & Cold Cases — The director of the Cold Case Program with the Michigan State Police discusses her experiences, 3 p.m. April 19; registration required.

Kalamazoo Macintosh Users Group — Using & providing help with Macintosh programs & accessories, 9 a.m. April 20.

Saturday Sound Immersion — Wind Willow Consortium members play instruments for

relaxation & a well-being experience, 10 a.m. April 20; registration required.

Live Music: WMU’s Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble — A program of cultural music, 2 p.m. April 20.

Botanical Diversity: Oak Savanna & Prairie Fen Restoration — Monthly program of Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones, promoting environmentally friendly landscaping, 6:30 p.m. April 24.

Kalamazoo Plant It Forward April Swap — Indoor & outdoor plant swap, 10 a.m. April 27.

Richland Community Library

8951 Park St., 629-9085, richlandlibrary.org

Bridge Club — Noon Tuesdays.

Bonnie Jo Campbell — Talk by local author of the novel The Waters, 7 p.m. April 4.

National Library Week — Book pairings, scavenger hunt, art & writing exhibit & more, April 9–13.

Cookbook Club — Sample & discuss recipes from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, 6 p.m. April 9.

RCL Film Club — Discussion of Harold & Maude (1971), 6 p.m. April 10.

Creative Boot Camp: Six Exercises to Spark Artistic Creativity — Continuation of a sixsession CreativeBug workshop; Class A runs 6–7 p.m. April 11; Class B runs 6–7 p.m. April 16; registration required.

Family Board Game Night — Pizza, pop & games, 5 p.m. April 12; registration required.

Richland Area Writer’s Group — Open to new members, 10 a.m. April 13 & 27, in person & online.

Harry Dolan — Talk by the author of Don’t Turn Around, 6 p.m. April 17.

Richland Genealogy Group — Open to new members, 10 a.m. April 18, in person & online.

RCL Book Club — Discussion of Sara Baume’s Spill Simmer Falter Wither, 6 p.m. April 18.

Trivial Pursuit Trivia Night — Teams of 2–6 people, 6:30 p.m. April 24; registration required.

Van Buren District Library — Antwerp Sunshine Branch 24283 Front St., Mattawan, 668-2534, vbdl.org

Sunshine Readers’ Book Club — 5:30–6:45 p.m. April 17.

Vicksburg District Library 215 S. Michigan Ave., 649-1648, vicksburglibrary.org

Bridge Club — 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays.

The Purple Martin Story — Penny Briscoe shares her experiences, 6 p.m. April 3.

Book Club for Adults — Check at circulation desk for book title, 9:30 a.m. April 4.

Dungeons & Dragons for Adults — Beginner to experienced levels welcome, 5:30 p.m. April 10 & 24.

Movie Club for Adults Watch Vertigo (1958), with refreshments served, 1 p.m. April 22.

Other Venues

Kalamazoo Poetry Festival — Community poetry events in various locations, April 6, 19 & 20, see kalamazoopoetryfestival.com for schedule.

Gail Griffin & Aaron Coleman — Poetry reading, 7 p.m. April 6, Kalamazoo Book Arts, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A, kalbookarts.org.

Kai Harris — The author of What the Fireflies Knew gives 10 a.m. craft talk, 2:15 p.m. reading, April 4, KVCC Student Commons Theater, Room 4240, Texas Township, libguides.kvcc.edu/visitingwriters.


Air Zoo

6151 Portage Road, Portage, 382-6555, airzoo.org

Eclipse at the Air Zoo — Sun-themed activities and viewing of the partial solar eclipse in Kalamazoo, with activities starting at 1 p.m. and peak of partial eclipse occurring at 3:10 p.m. April 8; bring a lawn chair.

Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671-5089, gilmorecarmuseum.org

Winter Lecture Series — In 1899 Steam & Electric Cars Were King? Don LaCombe, April 7; The Wonderful World of Radiator Emblems, Todd Carlson, April 14; Mascots in Motion, Steve Purdy, April 21; Old Mission & Leelanau Peninsula Vintners, Patrick Brys, April 28; all sessions begin at 2 p.m.

Coffee Talk — Museum leaders talk about what's planned for 2024, 1 p.m. April 14.

Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990, kalamazoomuseum.org

What it Means to Be a Hometown Writer — Award-winning author Bonnie Jo Campbell’s history and personal items from her writing world, through June.

Kalamazoo State Hospital: 165 Years of Psychiatric Care — The history of the patients, employees & buildings of Michigan’s longestoperating mental hospital, through January 2025.


Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574, naturecenter.org

Exploring the Edible Wilderness — Foraging basics along KNC trails, 4:30 p.m. April 18. Earth Day Celebration — Free admission plus activities, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. April 20.

Raptor Run 5K & Kids Raptor Run — 9 a.m. & 10 a.m. April 27; registration required.

Returning & Reskilling: Soil Blocking — A seedstarting method to produce vigorous seedlings, 10–11:30 a.m. April 27, Delano Homestead, 555 West E Ave.; registration required.


Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510, birdsanctuary@kbs.msu.edu

Online Birds & Coffee Chat — Tracking bird migration with Hannah Fisher, 10 a.m. April 10; registration required.

Other Venues

Geo Mystery Tours — Self-guided tour using GPS on frogs found around Portage, April 1–30, portagemi.gov/calendar; registration required.

Beginning Birding Walk — Led by an experienced birder, 9 a.m. April 6; meet at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery's second parking lot, 34270 County Road 652, Mattawan, kalamazooaudubon.org

Solar Eclipse Kits — Free eclipse glasses provided by the Air Zoo, 3 p.m. April 8, Portage Parks & Recreation Building, 320 Library Lane, portagemi. gov/calendar; registration required.

Birding Workshop — Presentation by the Audubon Society of Kalamazoo, 10 a.m. April 13, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave., portagemi. gov/calendar; registration required.

Garlic Mustard Pull Orientation — Required class to register for participation in annual Garlic Mustard Pull event, 10 a.m.–noon April 20, West Lake Nature Preserve, 9001 S. Westnedge Ave.; portagemi.gov/calendar; registration required.

Kalamazoo Area River & Trail Cleanup — Community-wide event to clean litter & trash from the river, trails & parks, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. April 20, Mayors Riverfront Park, 251 Mills St., kzooparks.org/events.

John Ball Zoo: Wild Things — Meet ambassador animals from John Ball Zoo, 2–3 p.m. April 20, Portage Parks & Recreation Building, 320 Library Lane, portagemi.gov/calendar; registration required.

Nature Hike with a Biologist: Adventures with Amphibians — A scientist leads a walk talking about frogs & toads in the Gourdneck State Game Area, 6 p.m. April 26, Hampton Lake Trail entrance off Centre Street; be prepared for walking off-trail; portagemi.gov/calendar; registration required.


Kalamazoo Foodways Symposium: African Heritage — Lectures, workshops, demonstrations & food tastings, 6–8:30 p.m. April 5, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St.; 10 a.m.–3 p.m. April 6, Marilyn Schlack Culinary & Allied Health Building, 418 E. Walnut St., kalamazoofoodways. org.

Kalamazoo Numismatic Club Coin Show — Coins, paper money & memorabilia, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. April 6, North Room, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., 491-0962.

Antique Bottle & Glass Show — Antique bottles of all types, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. April 6, Room A, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, kalamazoobottleclub.org.

Model Railroad Swap Meet — Model railroad items, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. April 6, South Room, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 344–0906.

Omnium Circus — Acrobatic circus, 6 p.m. April 6, Miller Auditorium, WMU, millerauditorium.com.

African Masquerade — Formal event for adults with food, drinks, a dance-off & mask contest, proceeds benefit Rootead Enrichment Center, 7 p.m. April 6, Kalamazoo City Center, 145 Farmers Alley, rootead.org.

UniQ Sell Your Valuables — Estate buyers of gold, silver, diamonds, coins & more, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. April 10–12, UniQ Jewelry, 3940 W. Centre Ave., uniqjewelry.com, 459-1669.

Grand Rapids Comic-Con Spring Fling — With cosplay, comic book creators, celebrities, voice actors & vendors, noon–7 p.m. April 12, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. April 13, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. April 14, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, grcomiccon.com.

5K Walk to End Homelessness — 10 a.m. April 13, Homer Stryker Field, 251 Mills St., housingresourcesinc.org.

Eco in the Zoo — Earth-friendly activities featuring sustainability clubs from local colleges, e-bikes, a solar-powered car, activities & giveaways, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. April 13, 162 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, downtownkalamazoo.org/event/eco-in-the-zoo.

Pinball at the Zoo — Pinball games & machines, 2–10 p.m. April 18, 1–10 p.m. April 19, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. April 20, South Room, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, pinballatthezoo.com.

Dinosaur World Live — Close-up encounters with prehistoric creatures, 2 p.m. April 20, Miller Auditorium, WMU, millerauditorium.com.

Olde Tyme Plow & Swap — Plowing & fitting with horses, antique tractors, steam engines & more, April 20–21, Scotts Mill County Park, 8451 S. 35th St., Scotts, 579-4627, kalcounty.com/ newsandevents.

Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Reptiles, amphibians & other exotic pets, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. April 21, Kalamazoo County Expo Center South, kalamazooreptileexpo.com.

Kalamazoo Record & CD Show — New & used records & CDs, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. April 21, Room A, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 734-604-2540.

2024 Spring Gala — Chinese dances, music & entertainment presented by Asian Initiatives of WMU's Haenicke Institute of Global Education, 4 p.m. April 21, Miller Auditorium, millerauditorium. com.

Tools & Trades Expo of Kalamazoo — Tools & construction techniques, noon–6 p.m. April 24–25, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 382-1762 ext. 104.

KazooPex Stamp & Cover Show — Covers, postcards & supplies, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. April 26 & 27, North Room, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 375-6188.

Spring Craft Show — With 200+ vendors, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. April 27, South & Main Rooms, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 903–5820.

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 31 OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY, MAY 19 10 AM to 2 PM 185 Romence Road Portage Find out about e-bikes by talking to experienced professionals and trying ’em out. It’s free, fun, and no pressure.* * LIMITED NUMBER OF DEMO BIKES. FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED. pedalbicycle.com 269.324.5555

Ode to Bonnie Jo

O rural writer, O river woman, O Comstock treasure, there you are in your TV makeup and perfect hair sitting with Hoda and Jenna and all those Jersey book-club gals talking about The Waters and Donkey and Hermine Herself. Meanwhile, you've become our own Herself, our matriarch of Michigan writers, born to love the Kalamazoo, raised on our rattlers and river currents, our toxins and triumphs, our Library of the Year, our Newspaper of the Year, where your father worked for fifty-three years. I remember

that day you carried your bike up the back stairs and into the newsroom to visit your dad. You were studying math at Western but falling in love with writing. Now Donkey loves math and you've had a bestseller. But your roots still run to our waters, and we still run to you, at our local bookstores in your mushroom dress, all six feet of you (a tiny bit of fiction for effect) topped by a brilliant smile. And we all get to bask in its hometown glow.

— Margaret DeRitter

DeRitter, the poetry editor and copy editor of Encore, wrote this poem after Comstock author Bonnie Jo Campbell's recent appearance on the Today show to talk about her new novel, The Waters. In the novel, Hermine "Herself" Zook and her granddaughter Dorothy, nicknamed Donkey, live on an island in the fictional Great Massasauga Swamp of Michigan.

Success happens at the Y. BIG GOALS

The YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo is here every day to ensure that every person in our community has an opportunity to work towards their healthy living goals. Here for health. Here for all. Join the Y Movement: Make a di erence with a gift today. For a better us.® For a better community. POETRY ENCORE
Brian K. Powers

Dave Crider (continued from page 34)

How did you get where you are today?

I went to Grand Rapids Community College out of high school. They have a fullblown music program with teachers on every instrument, and band, orchestra and choirs, which is very rare for a community college. It was incredible. I didn't have any money, and at the time I couldn't get financial aid, and they just let me audit classes, and I played in all the ensembles for, like, two years.

After a couple of years there, I went to Western (Michigan University) for percussion performance, studied with Judy Moonert, who I adore. I struggled at Western. There was a lot for me to learn, but I got there eventually. Then I went to Ohio University and studied with Roger Braun, who's become a dear friend that I still get to work with occasionally. It took me about 10 years from high school graduation to finish my master's. After that, I followed my now-wife to Arizona, where she had a job and I performed, taught lessons and worked as a freelance gigging musician for a few years.

We came back to Kalamazoo in 2018 — my wife's job brought us back — and pretty quickly after that I got the operations director job at the KJSO, which was a parttime job that is really about stage setup and instrument logistics. Then Covid happened and I took the initiative to produce virtual concerts for the KJSO, recording each person individually and then splicing it all together.


Because I had that skill set, it helped me become a bigger part of the organization and get to know the board and so on.

I wanted a full-time position, though, to get away from adjunct teaching online and doing little jobs. I found a job with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra as the after-school program manager for its Kids in Tune and Orchestra Rouh programs. I did that for about 18 months. And when Lee Fletcher announced her retirement from the KJSO, I applied for the job. I learned so much at the KSO that helped me feel ready to do this — I got to have more management experience, organizing all the instructors of those programs and managing the budget. I was hired and started in June 2023. How do you follow a leader who was with the organization for 38 years?

I think a lot about how modest Lee kept the organization and focused on the families and the students, so I'm really focused on "right-sizing" — not thinking about how we can become bigger, but how can we be the best youth symphony program for our community, for our region.

You have to have a certain number of students to create certain opportunities — you can't have chamber ensembles, string quartets and things like that if you don't have a big orchestra to draw from. But we should be really thoughtful about becoming so big and serious that students who might enjoy participating can't because it would be

the only activity they could do. So many of our students are in the KAMSC (Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center) program, do robotics, do debate, play multiple sports and do ballet and theater. Continuing to fit in the community to me is much more satisfying than getting bigger.

That said, I would also like the organization to grow its endowments and become selfsustainable. Right now, about 30% of our budget comes from local foundations, 30% from our annual fund drive, and another 10% from ticket sales. Our members pay dues, and we have a need-based scholarship fund to help with those dues to make sure that there is equal access for students to participate. What gives you the most satisfaction in what you do?

The students that our program is able to serve on a really deep level, like a life-changing level. I think we reach and enrich the lives of many, many people in Kalamazoo and are part of the fabric that makes this an incredible town. But what really speaks to me are those students who come into this program and it becomes the center of their lives. It ends up guiding their lives in a positive direction. I'm all about creating an opportunity for the students to be excited about, enthused about and captivated by what we're offering here. I had that experience as a kid. Music was always that for me.

– Interview by Marie Lee, edited for length and clarity

What should I know about the elective share of a spouse in Michigan?

A: In the State of Michigan the amount of an estate of a deceased spouse that a surviving spouse may claim does not depend on the length of the marriage. e purpose of the spousal elective share is to prevent someone from removing a spouse from inheritance. MCL 700.2202 (2) states that, “ e surviving spouse of a decedent who was domiciled in this state and who dies testate may le with the court an election in writing that the spouse elects 1 of the following: (a) at the spouse will abide by the terms of the will; (b) at the spouse will take 1/2 of the sum or share that would have passed to the spouse had the testator died intestate, reduced by 1/2 of the value of all property derived by the spouse from the decedent by any means other than testate or intestate succession upon the decedent's death; and (c) If a widow, and if the decedent died before the e ective date of the amendatory act that added section 30 to 1846 RS 66, that she will take her dower right under sections 1 to 29 of 1846 RS 66, MCL 558.1 to 558.29. If a surviving spouse fails to make an election within the time speci ed in section 2202, MCL 700.2203 provides that it is conclusively presumed that an intestate decedent's widow elects her intestate share or that a testate decedent's spouse elects to abide by the terms of the will, except in rare situations.

Please send your questions to Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 33
Willis Law
West South Street
MI 49007 269.492.1040

Dave Crider

Executive Director, Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

When Dave Crider was a kid, he ate, slept and lived to play percussion.

"Music was all I wanted to do, and I could do it endlessly," the 37-year-old says.

Growing up in the Northern Michigan town of Suttons Bay, Crider was the son of an auto mechanic who played drums, but Crider didn't take music lessons until he went to college. He went on to get a master's degree in music at Ohio University and has won numerous awards from DownBeat magazine and the Percussive Arts Society.

Despite the call of performing, Crider took over the reins as executive director of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra last June, replacing Lee Fletcher, who had been with the organization for 38 years.

In his role at the helm, Crider oversees all the administrative operations of the 85-year-old nonprofit, which brings together some of the most talented young musicians from across Southwest Michigan and currently has more than 75 members.

Crider says being a percussionist makes him well suited to the job. "As a percussionist, you're used to dealing with lots of little pieces of things. You've got all your different instruments and implements, and so organizing and operations comes pretty natural to me."

(continued on page 33)

K. Powers
www.encorekalamazoo.com | 35
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