Five Delicious Desserts
Guitar Guru: Rendal Wall is ‘the real deal’
Pachamama Street Food
Meet Julian Kuerti
Southwest Michigan’s Magazine
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Five Delicious Desserts
Pachamama Street Food
Meet Julian Kuerti
Southwest Michigan’s Magazine
Guitar Guru: Rendal Wall is ‘the real deal’
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Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2018, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to:
www.encorekalamazoo.com 117 W. Cedar St. Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax: (269) 383-9767 Email: Publisher@encorekalamazoo.com The staff at Encore welcomes written comment 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.
4 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
ENCORE EDITOR'S NOTE
From the Editor N
ovember is one of those months. It comes in with a roar — politically speaking — and ends with a celebration focused on gratitude. Depending on where you come down on the political spectrum, you may be feeling more or less gratitude than others. We want to make sure everyone feels thankful for something, so we packed November’s issue full of stories and features that will make you grateful you live in such a dynamic, creative and delicious community. Several of our stories this month focus on interesting local people with intriguing histories. Say the name Rendal Wall in music circles and it elicits a reverential response, but outside that world few us of us know of the “guitar whisperer” among us. Thanks to writer Lisa Mackinder, we all learn more about this man and his musical legacy. We also discover two other legacies with a Kalamazoo connection. Through Brian Wilson’s new book, we learn about John Fetzer’s spiritual quest and how it continues within our community today. And in a new book by local poet Jennifer Clark that weaves history and poetry together, we learn, among many other things, that Johnny Appleseed (aka John Chapman) was once the Ohio neighbor of early settlers of the Kalamazoo area. For the foodies among us (really, aren’t we all foodies this month?), we share the story of Pachamama Street Food and the internationally influenced cuisine this food cart vendor is serving up. And Four Roses Café’s Jan Rose shares mouth-watering details on the restaurant’s most popular desserts.. Finally, we introduce you to Julian Kuerti, the dynamic 41-year-old whose path to becoming music director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra began with an epiphany in a laser lab. And so you’ll know you are appreciated, let me end by saying that everyone at Encore is truly grateful for loyal readers like you. Merci!
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FEATURE The Guitar Guru
Those who know Rendal Wall say he’s ‘the real deal’
DEPARTMENTS 5 From the Editor 8 Contributors Up Front
Happenings and events in SW Michigan
Five Faves — Desserts from Four Roses Café to be grateful for
History of a Seeker — Brian Wilson’s new book looks at business mogul John Fetzer’s spiritual quest
Feeding Their Passion — Pachamama owners take travel-inspired food to the streets
Meet Julian Kuerti — How an epiphany in a laser lab led him to the KSO
ARTS 32 The Heart of Art — KIA program teaches school students to appreciate and create art 36 Johnny Appleseed — Seeking the man behind the myth leads writer on her own journey 39 Events of Note On the cover: Rendal Wall in “Rendal’s Guitar Lounge” at Heritage Guitar Inc. Photo by Brian K. Powers
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Margaret DeRitter For this month’s issue, Margaret wrote about poet Jennifer Clark’s new book Johnny Appleseed, in which she works to separate the mythical figure from the real man, John Chapman, who lived from 1774-1845. “The book is part poetry, part history and a fascinating look at a pivotal time in American history,” Margaret says. “Jennifer has written a beautiful prologue to the book and fascinating historical notes that are as interesting to read as the poems.” Margaret is the copy editor and poetry editor of Encore. Her first book of poetry is due out in 2020.
Among the stories Lisa wrote for this issue is our cover story on guitar guru Rendal Wall. “When you meet Rendal Wall, you want to grab a glass of lemonade, sit on a porch and listen to him tell stories — and there are plenty of them,” says Lisa, who spoke with the musician, inventor and luthier for this issue. Wall, who has worked for Gibson Guitar and then Heritage Guitar Inc. for a total of 55 years, has worked with nearly every musician in the industry, which makes for a lot of interesting tales. "The stories have offshoots and paths all their own,” she says. Lisa is a frequent contributor to Encore.
In interviewing new Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Music Director Julian Kuerti, Marie encountered a lot of surprises, from Kuerti’s background in physics and engineering to his fascination with airplanes and dream of someday having a pilot’s license. “He’s an amazing, accomplished musician and conductor, but there’s this scientific part of him too, which he embraces. He doesn’t see those as either/or qualities but as part of the whole.” Marie is the editor of Encore.
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FIRST THINGS ENCORE
First Things Something Creative
Interactive do it exhibit at KIA There’s no question that do it is unlike any exhibition that the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has had before. This touring exhibition arrives at each scheduled location only as a book of 400 instructions, with each venue choosing what to use. The result is a conceptual art exhibition crafted in part by area artists and groups and in real time by visitors. It opened Oct. 27 at the KIA and runs through March 3. An opening reception is set for 5-8 p.m. Nov. 2, during Art Hop, with free admission to the KIA during that time. Nayda Collazo-Llorens, Emily Berezowski, Karen Bondarchuk and Audrey Mills are among area artists responding to the do it prompts with original pieces. Other participants include people from the Black Arts & Cultural Center, the Jazz & Creative Institute, the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center and Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, as well as students from Kalamazoo Public Schools and the Education for the Arts program. Visitors have the opportunity to make art by responding to instructions as they visit, becoming part of the exhibition themselves. One possibility is to take up Yoko Ono’s suggestion: “Make a wish. Write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch
Left: Do it Bourgeous, oval on brick, do it instruction by Louise Bourgeois at Frac des pays de la Loire/HAB Galerie in Nantes, 2016. Above: Do it LeWitt and Wurm / Sweatshirt People, Sol LeWitt and Erwin Wurm, do it instruction at NuMu in Guatemala City, 2015.
of a Wish Tree. Ask your friends to do the same. Keep wishing. Until the branches are covered with wishes.” A live tree will be in the KIA to receive people’s wishes. Two ARTbreak talks related to the exhibition are scheduled. On Nov. 27, Kalamazoo Public Schools art teacher Mandy Clearwaters and Kalamazoo Book Arts Center Director Jeff Abshear will share what they created with help from their students. On Dec. 18, Bondarchuk, CollazoLlorens and Berezowski will discuss their experiences in creating works for the exhibition. Both talks will be at noon and are free. For more information, visit kiarts.org.
10 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
ENCORE FIRST THINGS
Something Unusual Pianist is full of surprises
If you like improvisation and piano music, then Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero’s concert Nov. 15 at Chenery Auditorium is for you. Montero is renowned not only for her prowess as a concert pianist but also for her improvisational skills. She is known to end her concerts by asking audience members to sing her a tune so she can create a spontaneous composition around it. Montero says it lets her “connect to my audiences in a completely unique way — and they connect with me.” Montero will also perform works by Mozart and Beethoven. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Chenery, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., with a pre-concert talk set for 7 p.m. Tickets are $35-$55, or $7 for students with valid identification. For more information, visit thegilmore.org.
Writers Nissen, Nicorvo at KVCC Wife-and-husband novelists Thisbe Nissen and Jay Baron Nicorvo will speak about writing and present readings of their work Nov. 13 at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Texas Township campus. Nissen, an associate professor of English at Western Michigan University, is the author of three novels, The Good People of New York (2001), Osprey Island (2004) and Our Lady of the Prairie, released this year. She also co-authored The ExBoyfriend Cookbook: They Came, They Cooked, They Left (But We Ended Up with Some Great Recipes) with Erin Ergenbright, which provides a collection of recipes learned from their ex-boyfriends. Nicorvo is the author of the novel The Grand Stand (2017), and his writing has been featured on NPR and the PBS NewsHour. He's served as an editor at PEN America, the literary magazine of the PEN American Center, and at Ploughshares and has taught at a number of colleges, including WMU. They will speak on their craft at 10 a.m. and read selections from their work at 2:15 p.m. in the Student Commons Theater, Room 4240. Their appearance is part of KVCC's annual “About Writing” Visiting Writer Series, which is free and open to the public. For more information, call 488-4400.
Jay Baron Nicorvo w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 11
FIRST THINGS ENCORE
‘Piano playtime’ concerts for families This is not Baby Einstein. It’s much, much better.
Baby Grands is a series of four free 50-minute concerts just for those ages 0-6 and their families and friends, with each concert featuring one of The Gilmore’s Rising Stars. This unconventional piano recital series offers the chance for little ones to dance, explore and move around to their hearts’ abandon and for their grown-ups to relax and have coffee while seeing and hearing some of the world’s leading young pianists. The performers scheduled are: • Zoltán Fejérvári, 10:30 a.m. Nov. 3, Willard Library, 7 W. Van Buren St., Battle Creek. • Nikita Mndotyants, 10:30 a.m. Jan. 12, Ransom District Library, 180 S. Sherwood Ave., Plainwell. • 2016 Gilmore Young Artist Daniel Hsu, 10:30 a.m. March 16, Kalamazoo Public Library’s Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St. • Kate Liu, 10:30 a.m., April 27, Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St. For more information, call 342-1166 or visit thegilmore.org.
"Alice’s Restaurant" at the State Arlo Guthrie fans have a special reason to give thanks this month.
Guthrie will be in town Nov. 2 at the State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., to perform his rambling folk hit “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre,” a dramatic retelling of his arrest for littering on the day after Thanksgiving. Guthrie’s youngest daughter, folk singer Sarah Lee Guthrie, will open the show. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8. Tickets range from $35-$125. For tickets or more information, visit kazoostate.com or call 345-6500.
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ENCORE FIRST THINGS
Alum returns for WMU show Known as “the Robin Williams of Drag,” Western Michigan University alumnus Sutton Lee Seymour returns to star in the University Theatre production of The Lady in Question at WMU’s Shaw Theatre Nov. 9-18. Seymour, a New York City-based drag queen, has appeared in a number of off-Broadway shows as well as on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. Seymour graduated from WMU with a bachelor’s degree in music theatre in 2007. In the upcoming show, Seymour stars as the glamorous and vain Gertrude Garnet, an internationally recognized concert pianist. In this work of satire, Gertrude is on tour in 1940s Bavaria, where she meets a dashing professor who challenges her selfish ways when he asks for her help to rescue his mom from a Nazi prison camp. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9, 10 and 15-17 and 2 p.m. Nov. 18. Tickets are $20. For tickets or more information, call 387-2300 or visit tickets.millerauditorium.com.
Folklife concert benefits hungry Take in a night of eclectic musical performers Nov. 17 and help feed the
hungry at the same time. K’zoo Folklife’s Loaves and Fishes Benefit Concert will be held from 6-10 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 504 S. Westnedge Ave. Among the performers will be folk musician Joel Mabus; The Out of Favor Boys 3, a trio featuring guitars and saxophone; Remix, a collection of the Mall City Harmonizers’ youngest members; folk duo Carrie McFerrin and Matt Borr; Somewhere in Time, featuring music from the 1920s-40s; and The Clearwaters, featuring Jeff and Sheila Clearwater. Admission is by cash donation or a gift of nonperishable food items.
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FIVE FAVES ENCORE
Desserts from Four Roses Café to celebrate Hold the pumpkin pie. With the holidays coming up,
it’s time to get creative with your dessert options, and Jan Rose, co-owner of Four Roses Café in Plainwell, offered to share with Encore readers the restaurant’s most popular desserts. That’s a big order when you consider that each day, the restaurant has nearly 30 options to choose from, whipped up by pastry chef Kris Newland. Here, Rose describes the restaurant’s five most popular desserts:
This is the one that everyone comes in and asks for. It’s our six-layer Chocolate Lovers’ Cake with a caramel filling in it. You can't go wrong with it, and because it’s so big, it’s great for sharing. Kris created this one to help satisfy people's caramel cravings, and it does this in a big way. Literally.
Chocolate Lovers’ Cake with Dulce de Leche
Blacktop Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
Black Bottom Pie
This is probably my favorite dessert, because I love cheesecake and I love chocolate, and it's just the perfect combination. It’s a New York-style cheesecake with chocolate chips on an Oreo cookie crust and with a hard chocolate topping. It's rich but not too chocolaty.
This one starts with a graham cracker crust topped with a thin layer of semi-sweet chocolate. There’s a chocolate Kahlua mousse on top that Kris makes with a little bit of rum. People like the chocolate easiness of it and its subtle coffee flavor. It's also light and fluffy, so they don't feel like they're being as “bad” as if they get the Blacktop Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.
14 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
Amaretto Coconut Cream Pie This
is our best seller. It’s made with amaretto liqueur and toasted coconut, with a creme patissiere (pastry cream) and a whipped topping. People really like the coconut and amaretto together, and it has a really fresh flavor.
Peanut Butter Pie What’s not to love? It starts with a fluffy peanut
butter mousse that Kris whips real whipped cream into and then puts on a graham cracker crust. A little bit of chocolate is drizzled over the top. Every bite is rich and fluffy, and you always want another one — at least I do.
About Four Roses Café After a number of years working in the food-service industry, husband and wife Tom and Jan Rose opened Four Roses Café at 663 N. 10th St., in Plainwell, seven years ago. The restaurant, which offers a menu of farm-to-table fine dining that is changed daily, was recognized in 2016 as having the best desserts in Michigan by MLive food writer John Gonzalez.
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UP FRONT ENCORE
History of a Seeker
Professor’s new book looks at Fetzer’s spiritual quest by
Brian Wilson in the lobby of the Fetzer Institute which was founded by business mogul John E. Fetzer.
16 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
ecause Brian Wilson had excellent junior high and high school science teachers who sparked his interest in science and pushed him down a career path in medical microbiology, his first foray into publishing was a far cry from the historical biographies he’s become known for. “My first publication was (an article titled) ‘Proton Motive Force and the Physiological Basis of Delta pH Maintenance in Thiobacillus acidophilus,’” Wilson says, smiling at this writer’s raised eyebrows at hearing the lengthy title. Wilson, now a professor of American religious history at Western Michigan University, has since authored several books with somewhat shorter titles, including the recently released John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age, a historical biography of Southwest Michigan businessman and philanthropist John E. Fetzer. How Wilson went from biomedics to religious history began with his stint in the Peace Corps after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in medical microbiology from Stanford University in 1982. The Peace Corps sent Wilson to Florida to learn how to grow freshwater fish. “Because I had this biology degree, they decided I’d be great at teaching people how to grow freshwater fish in ponds,” he says. After that, the Corps shuttled him to the mountains in Honduras — a climate too cold for the fish. The location had other problems too, such as deforestation and water issues, Wilson says, so he gained his first taste of classroom instruction teaching high school. The catch? Instructing in Spanish.
ENCORE UP FRONT
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UP FRONT ENCORE
“I had four years of neglected high school Spanish,” he admits. “I barely got through it.” But Wilson quickly grasped the country’s native language after a weekend of having to make his way around a remote village — alone — in what he calls a “sink-or-swim challenge.” Wilson swam. “It really shows you, in a pinch, you can communicate,” he says. “I think it’s a great experience. For most people it really bolsters your confidence because you find out you know more than you think you know.”
While in Honduras and then the Dominican Republic, Wilson tapped into a latent interest in religions. He attended Mass in colonial-era churches in Honduras and was fascinated by the architecture and religious ceremonies. Wilson experienced a similar curiosity wandering around the Mayan ruins of Copan, near the Guatemalan border, which he found compelling “intellectually and emotionally.” “How (were) these places used?” he remembers wondering. “What did people do here?” When Wilson returned to the U.S., he dropped his pursuit of medical microbiology and instead received a master’s degree in Hispanic studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and an M.A. and Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of California–Santa Barbara. Wilson’s “bookish” and “explorative” tendencies pushed him toward a career in academia. As a child he liked to read and write and explore the open countryside and apple orchards near his home in what is now California’s Silicon Valley. “I always thought as a kid that eventually I’d write books,” he admits. Which brings his story full circle: Wilson’s book John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age, released in August, details Fetzer’s spiritual journey. The book follows Wilson’s 2014 book, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg
18 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
Above: Brian Wilson poses in the iconic window that John Fetzer posed in front of for Encore Magazine in 1989 and which appears on the cover of Wilson's book (center). Left: A historic picture from the book showing Fetzer being dunked in a locker-room whirlpool by Detroit Tigers players after their 1968 World Series win.
and the Religion of Biological Living, and his 2008 book, Yankees in Michigan. It was Wilson’s biography of Kellogg that caught the attention of the Memorial Trust, a branch of the Fetzer Institute set up shortly before Fetzer died to preserve his legacy. The trust reached out to Wilson to write a Fetzer biography. “The whole idea was kind of to preserve his legacy,” Wilson explains. “That’s what they’re in the process of doing now — cataloging the archives and making them available online, and the book project was part of that too.” Fetzer, who lived from 1901 to 1991, was one of the most influential men of his day and among the 400 richest men in America. Most people know of his ownership of the Detroit Tigers and his business success but may not be aware of his life as a spiritual seeker, Wilson says. That interest was sparked by his mother, who became a Seventh
ENCORE UP FRONT Day Adventist during his teen years. The young man followed her into the religion, Wilson says. “For about 10 years he was a very fervent kind of Seventh Day Adventist,” Wilson says. After that, Fetzer and his wife, Rhea, wanted to explore other religions. Many don’t know about Fetzer’s spiritual pursuits because he was an extremely private man and shared that part of his life with only his closest friends, Wilson says. Fetzer’s occupation was media, but he wanted to stay out of the newspaper, since he wanted to live a simple and modest lifestyle. “He had a nice home, but not a fancy home, on Clovelly (Road), off of Oakland,” Wilson says. “And that’s where he lived with his wife his entire life. And they didn’t have chauffer-driven limousines or private jets or anything like that.” While writing John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age, Wilson found similarities between Fetzer and Kellogg. They were both driven
as entrepreneurs and seekers interested in what they saw as the harmony between science and religion. In addition, both amassed great wealth and questioned the proper use of it. But their paths diverged drastically near the end of their lives. “Kellogg kind of went off the rails in his later life and got into eugenics (the belief in selective breeding based on genetics to improve the human race) in a big way,” Wilson explains. “That’s something that most people didn’t know about.” Written for the general audience, John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age will appeal to history buffs, baseball fans and philanthropists alike, and its reach goes far beyond Kalamazoo, Wilson says “It’s a Kalamazoo story, it’s a Michigan story,” he says, “but I also think it’s a national story as well.”
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Feeding Their Passion
Pachamama owners take travel-inspired food to the streets LISA MACKINDER
20 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
Pachamama Street Food and are now serving the Bruce Lee Bahn Mi and other internationally inspired dishes to the greater Kalamazoo community. “An old friend of my parents was the one who introduced me to that dish when I was a kid,” says Shepard of the sandwich, which is one of Pachamama’s top sellers. “If people haven’t tried this food before, that’s the one
Clockwise from above: A customer shows off the Bruce Lee Bahn Mi sandwich from Pachamama Street Food; Pachamama owners Amanda Castro (left) and Shyam Shepard; an order of their popular Castro’s Crab Rangoons.
hyam Shepard has been making his Bruce Lee Bahn Mi — a Korean BBQ beef sandwich topped with pickled vegetables, cilantro, jalapenos and Sriracha sauce — for friends and family for more than a decade. But last year he decided it was time to take the sandwich public. So Shepard and his wife, Amanda Castro, purchased a food cart, named their business
that’s going to bring them in and really turn them on to those flavors.” “It’s like a sweet and savory beef. It’s really tender, and having it with the bahn mi
toppings is a good way to ease into this style of food because it’s just really tasty.”
International influence Shepard and Castro’s time spent traveling to many foreign countries, especially in South America, and living in Portland, Oregon, and San Diego has influenced the couple’s food cart venture in many ways. They say their favorite part of traveling is seeking out street food and becoming immersed in the culture. Eating food brings people together, Shepard says. “Language is going on around you that you don’t understand,” he says, “but it’s a way to connect with people when there’s a language barrier — to eat the food that they’re eating. Nine times out of 10 it’s something delicious.”
The name Pachamama was also inspired by their travels. Shepard says it is a “catchall word” in South America that means “Mother Earth.” Since they wanted to serve global street food, he says, they thought it fit. “I thought the title ‘Mother Earth food’ would open it up and allow us to do any food that we wanted to do,” Shepard says. A year ago, “the stars sort of aligned” for Shepard and Castro to launch their business. Creating the menu came easy because the couple already knew what they wanted to offer. Finding the right food cart was the most challenging task, Shepard says. After looking at numerous models online, none of which suited their needs, Shepard reached out to Dock Dawgs in Detroit, a family-owned business that designs and w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 21
Above: Customers line up at Pachamama’s cart at the Kalamazoo Night Market. Right: Shyam Shepard prepares an order.
builds custom food carts. Shepard says Dock Dawgs built a cart for Pachamama that not only fit what they wanted but cost less than many of the used models they had considered. “I added a fryer, grill and utility rack to the cart,” he says. “I knew I’d need these things to serve the menu we wanted to offer. The crew at Dock Dawgs excels at packing a lot of options into a small package.” Shepard operated Pachamama part time in 2017, selling food at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market, food truck rallies, special events and festivals. It went so well he made the leap to full-time operation in 2018. Castro, an environmental scientist with Energy Environmental Group, works the cart with Shepard on weekends and during the
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week as her schedule permits. Castro’s job with Energy Environmental Group is what brought the couple to Kalamazoo in September 2016. One of Pachamama’s most popular menu items comes from Shepard’s mother’s own recipe box: Lita’s Favorite, a slow-cooked chicken adobo sandwich topped with red cabbage, pickled onion, cilantro, jalapenos and Sriracha. His mother, Julieta “Lita” Francisco Shepard, is of Filipino descent and taught Shepard to cook this traditional Filipino dish and other meals when he was a child. Another crowd favorite is Castro’s Crab Rangoons, which are filled with cream cheese, crabmeat, vegetables and spices. Shepard receives endless orders for the rangoons at the Thursday night Kalamazoo Farmers Market. “We sell hundreds of crab rangoons,” Shepard says. “We can never make enough of those.” Pachamama also brought to Kalamazoo a dish prepared in many forms in the Andean countries of South America: choripan, which simply means “chorizo on bread” in Spanish, Shepard explains. Pachamama serves it with a homemade chimichurri sauce. Selling at the farmer’s market is working for Pachamama, Shepard says, because it has "built a fan base with the market’s excellent attendance.” Pachamama Street Food is also often sold at Lawton Ridge Winery, in Mattawan, sometimes during the winter. When customers return each week with praise for the food — and to try weekly specials — it feeds the couple’s passion for food. “I think the most rewarding thing is turning people on to different types of cuisine that they haven’t experienced before,” says Shepard, “especially when they really enjoy it.”
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The Guitar Guru Those who know Rendal Wall say he’s ‘the real deal’
24 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
hose who know Rendal “Ren” Wall call him "the real deal.” Whether they are referring to his prowess as a professional musician, songwriter, inventor or luthier (builder of stringed instruments) — first at Gibson Guitar Corp. when it hailed from Kalamazoo and now at Heritage Guitar Inc. — or to his down-to-earth personality, Wall, 76, is somewhat of a legend with millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers alike. Surely Wall’s five-plus decades of professional experience factors in — he is a bit of a “guitar whisperer,” able to find any little problem or nuance with a new or old guitar by simply playing it. According to George Braymer, owner of London Style Design in Portage and a musician, Wall has something many musicians don’t possess. “He actually wanted to understand the guitar,” Braymer says. “There’s not a lot of guys out there anymore that actually do that — the ones who do are in Berklee School (College) of Music.” But these compliments about Wall’s guitar knowledge also apply to his personality. “He’s unpretentious,” says longtime friend Bob Rowe, a recording artist and founder of Renaissance Enterprises, a West Michigan-based nonprofit. “He’s down-to-earth. He means what he says and he says what he means. You always know where you stand.” He’s also a fixture in the community. “Rendal Wall is Kalamazoo,” Rowe says. “He’s deeply rooted in the community. He cares about the community. And he knows so many people … .” Braymer had the opportunity to meet Wall 30 years ago at 13, when Braymer recently started playing his dad’s Kalamazoo-made 1968 Les Paul Custom Gibson guitar. He was visiting bass player Jim Best in Richland when Wall stopped by. “I didn’t know who Wall was,” Braymer admits, laughing, “but I found out pretty quickly.” Braymer learned of Wall’s musical skills and that Wall had friends everywhere. Braymer, who still plays the guitar, says that it’s not often that different people consistently say the same things about a person, but in Wall’s case, he says, this holds true. “He’s just genuine,” Braymer says.
‘Whole ’nother story’ Wall greets newcomers to Heritage Guitar, at 225 Parsons St., the former home of Gibson Guitar, as if addressing old friends. With warm, smiling eyes, the 76-year-old makes you quickly feel at home in this building where he has spent 55 years of his life, choosing to chat with you in “Rendal’s Guitar Lounge,” a room Heritage named in his honor where musicians “pick” on their guitars with abandon. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 25
“They had to name it for someone,” he says with just a hint of a Southern drawl and then chuckles. “Why not me?” 'Why not?’ is right. It would take a trilogy to detail Wall’s history and the many positions he has held in the music profession for Gibson Guitar and then for Heritage, where he became well acquainted with national recording artists like BB King, Barbara Mandrell and Chet Atkins, to name a few. When Wall recalls these individuals, he often tosses his hand or adjusts the bill of his baseball cap and says, “But that’s a whole ’nother story.”
Family ties Music and the Wall family married long ago. Rendal’s father, Rem Wall, was raised by his father, a coal miner in Southern Illinois, and started singing and playing the guitar as a young boy. After graduating from high school, Rem moved to Kalamazoo with a sack lunch, 10 bucks and a guitar covered with a gunnysack, according to Ren’s copy of a faded magazine article, “The People of Gibson.” As Ren explains, his love-struck dad was chasing after Roberta Black, a newly minted nurse who had accepted a position at Bronson Methodist Hospital. Rem succeeded in his pursuit, marrying Black, and they had Ren and his two siblings. In 1948, Rem started a band called Rem Wall and the Green Valley Boys, performing an hour-long show on WKZ0-TV3 called The Green Valley Jamboree, which became the longest-running country music program worldwide, lasting 37 years. The band also had two radio programs that aired for 40 years on WKZO and WGFG. In the 1960s, Columbia Records signed Rem Wall to record seven records, including “Home is Where the Hurt Is” (which went gold) and “Keep on Loving You.” Around that time, Roberta became ill and Rem could no longer tour to promote his records. Rendal followed in his father’s footsteps. He says he was barely out of diapers when he picked up his first instrument, an accordion. He took accordion lessons but quickly tired of the instrument and moved on to the lap steel guitar. He then took to playing a pedal steel guitar, which is a console-type, double-necked steel guitar with 10 strings on each double neck, eight pedals and four knee levers. “It’s quite a deal,” Wall admits. When Wall was 10, his father’s band needed a drummer, so Rendal, who had also taken drum lessons, began playing with the band in shows and in area bars. “I learned about life at an early age,” he says, laughing. He moved into singing and playing guitar with the band, which was inducted into the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977. “We were the only band inducted as a group,” Wall says. “I was kind of proud.” The Green Valley Boys still play today, volunteering with Rowe’s Renaissance Enterprises.
Last man in the booth Rendal and Rem not only played guitar together, but they also breathed life into the instruments for 91 years between them.
26 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
In 1948, Rem started working at Gibson Guitar in Kalamazoo and was there for 37 years. In 1960, the younger Wall came on board. Ren started out sanding wood on Gibson’s white wood line and eventually became foreman of final setup, supervising 24 fret filers, eight cleaners and two inspectors. Fret filers level, round and polish the frets (the pieces of metal imbedded in the neck) and set the action (string height), Wall explains. Wall was the last person to touch every guitar before it shipped out. A worker would roll a rack of eight guitars up a ramp into a thickwalled 12-foot by 12-foot soundproof booth where Wall waited. “You could hear your own heartbeat when you went in there (because) it was so quiet,” Wall says. “It was like a big vault.” Wall would check each guitar’s electronics and action, making sure everything worked right and that it played well. In Gibson’s heyday, Wall handled about 500 guitars a day. “I don’t know if it was my favorite (job),” he admits, “but it was one of the jobs that I had that I was proud of because there’s a lot of responsibility there toward the end. The company had a lot of money in (the guitars) by that time, because all of the finish was on, all the parts were on and ready to go. If something was wrong and they missed it further back at the other inspection station, it could be real costly.”
Over the years, Gibson Guitar management discovered that Wall possessed a multitude of talents, moving him into various positions, including research and development manager. Wall has designed countless guitar parts, guitars and pieces of photography equipment. Many of his inventions remain in use today, such as equal-tension string sets. Back in the 1960s, strings on a guitar pulled at different tensions, which caused the strings to twist and made them feel different beneath an artist’s fingers. “If I see a problem, I tend to see a solution,” Wall says. Wall showed his idea for the equaltension string sets to Stan Rendell, Gibson’s president at the time, who sent Wall to Norlin Industries in Chicago to further develop the idea, and the strings went to market. “Other string manufacturers picked up on this idea, and now every manufacturer makes even-tension string sets,” Wall says. Another innovation came after a telephone call from Ted Nugent. Wall says Nugent rang him up and said, “Hey, Ren, I want a guitar.” Wall asked, “What kind?” Pictures from a storied career, clockwise from bottom left: The Wall-Board Guitar in its case was created by Wall while working at Gibson Guitars; Wall at work at Gibson; Wall, left, playing with his father, Rem Wall, center, and Bob Rowe, back; Wall, right, with guitarist Paul Yandell, a master of fingerstyle guitar playing; and the sign adorning the “pickin' room” at Heritage Guitar.
and Nugent simply replied, “You know what I want” and hung up. Wall asked Nugent’s secretary for a photocopy of the artist’s hand to measure Nugent’s fingers and hand width so the guitar’s neck would perfectly fit it. “He thought that was so awesome,” Wall says. Since then, when making any custom guitar, Wall will request an image of the artist’s handprint. Guitar players, he says, are finicky about the way their guitar feels. “It all has to be — I’d use the word ‘surgically’ — correct,” Wall says. “Otherwise it won’t fit their hand and they have to change their technique in order to play perfect and the way they want to play.” But it was Wall’s Gibson Wall-Board Guitar that grabbed the attention of Vintage Guitar Magazine. In June 2016, the magazine published the story “Out of the Woods, Off the Wall,” naming the Wall-Board “one of the wildest instruments to leave the factory.” Wall designed and built the Wall-Board in 1964 using a Gibson Firebird solid body “without the wings” (only the neck through the center section). He created a retractable strap in the tail of the guitar’s body and a guitar case that resembled a hunting rifle case. “I was the (magazine’s) centerfold,” Wall says, laughing, "and this is one of the most prestigious magazines going. I was just beating my chest when I got in that magazine.”
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But, of all his jobs, Wall’s favorite was as assistant artist relations manager for Gibson and Heritage. He was the liaison between the companies and artists in jazz, country, bluegrass, blues, and rock ’n’ roll, including Vince Gill, Eddie Van Halen, and members of the Eagles and Metallica. Wall also helped design and deliver custom guitars to the artists. His eyes shine when he recalls eating dinner with the members of ZZ Top, playing golf in the Roy Clark Open, appearing three times on Hee Haw, a country music and comedy variety television show that ran from 1971-1993, and spending time backstage with artists like Kenny Rogers and Randy Travis. Wall even became close friends with Les Paul, the jazz, country and blues guitarist and one of the pioneers of the electric solid-body guitar for which Gibson became globally famous. “You name ’em,” he says of musicians, “and I’ve been with ’em over the years.” One of Wall’s most memorable occasions came when he and fellow Gibson employee Jim Reno traveled to Indiana to deliver a guitar to legendary blues artist BB King. After the delivery, King began a performance, which he dedicated to Wall. King even stopped the show and asked two people in the front row to move so that Wall and Reno could watch the show right down in the front. “Then we went backstage and got to talk to him in a private setting,” Wall says. “That’s another reason why I liked artist relations, because I got to do things that not too many people had a chance to do unless they were a part of the band.” But the job wasn’t always so positive. Bill Monroe, the legendary mandolin player considered the father of bluegrass, sent his 1923 Gibson Lloyd Loar mandolin — today worth $1 million, says Wall — to Gibson for some fretwork. While at the factory, the workers refinished it. Big mistake. “You don’t do that to an old instrument,” Wall explains. A furious Monroe retaliated and scratched the Gibson logo off the mandolin headstock. “That was a big deal,” Wall says. “That news went all over the world.”
It was Wall’s job to convince the irate musician to replace the headstock veneer on his instrument with the Gibson logo. Wall flew back and forth to Nashville for almost a year, he says, before the singer finally relented and admitted him into his dressing room at the Grand Ole Opry. Monroe handed Wall the mandolin and asked, “What do you think?” “I looked him in the eye,” Wall says, “and said, ‘You know good and well that when you did that with the pocketknife that hurt you (and) that hurt the company. Let’s kiss and make up.’ After a couple times of kicking me out of the dressing room, he finally let me fly it back to Kalamazoo.” Wall worked at Gibson until 1982, when Gibson moved its operations to Tennessee. In April 1985, four former longtime Gibson employees opened Heritage Guitar in Gibson’s former factory at 225 Parsons St. Wall joined the fledgling guitar company a month later. Now, 33 years later, he’s still there.
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One million. That’s the number of guitars Wall figures he has handled during his time with Gibson and Heritage. With all he’s done, however, he has faced only one career challenge: retirement. He just can’t leave his well-loved second home. “I should have retired 10 years ago,” he says. These days Wall fills in at Heritage where needed — taking wood deliveries, assisting customers on the phone, and helping with tours of the Heritage facility. “I’ll go in there and tell a couple jokes and get the crowd ready,” he says, grinning. Visitors to Heritage are magnets for Wall and he finds deep satisfaction from their reactions. “The main thing is that music brings joy to people,” he says. “They’ve got a smile on their face when they walk through that door.” And Wall doesn’t plan to stop playing music anytime soon. “‘When the lights go out, I wanna be pickin’, like Les Paul said.”
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The Heart of Art
KIA program teaches kids to appreciate and create art by
elody Allen, head art teacher for the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts’ ArtLab, never tires of one thing: watching children’s eyes light up when they do something they didn’t think they could do — create art. “They’re so proud of it,” says Allen, who has taught ArtLab since 1997. “I really get a kick out of that. That never gets old.” ArtLab participants, who often arrive at the KIA gazing upward, wide-eyed, at Dale Chihuly’s glass chandelier in the institute’s front entrance, engage in a one-hour tour of the museum led by trained volunteer docents and in a one-hour workshop to create art, guided by professional artist-educators.
32 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
For Kalamazoo County third- through fifth-graders, the program is free, thanks to sponsorships from area businesses. For others in grades K-12 from any county, the docent-led tour is free and the workshop costs a minimal fee. ArtLab, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has groups ranging from 10 to 60 students. With the larger numbers, children are split into four groups. Two groups participate in the tour while the other two groups spend time in the classroom, and then the groups switch. “We want groups to be small so they can have a more individual experience and
be more engaged with the teachers and the docents who are doing the tours,” says Michelle Stempien, curator of education at the KIA.
Fostering art education Stempien says she is not sure why the program — originally named the ARTist Program — was started, but she has some ideas. “I think the organizers felt that the KIA was uniquely positioned to offer a program that Below: Kalamazoo Country Day School student Sara Hudson looks at a display of art created by students from Southwest Michigan. Right, top: KIA instructor Melody Allen gives students instructions for a project. Bottom: KCDS students engaged in painting.
incorporated looking at art and making art, since we have such a great art school and galleries,” she says. “This program brought both of those elements together.” The program’s organizers also likely recognized where art education in schools was headed, she adds. “School art programs were already starting to get cut back or eliminated completely due to tight budgets, and they saw a need to supplement art experiences for children,” Stempien says. “For some of the students who come here, this might be the only art experience they have during their school year if there is no art program at their school.” The KIA strives to provide ArtLab participants a memorable, oneof-a-kind experience. Past projects have included printmaking, watercolors, still life, books, pastel rubbings on watercolor paper, landscapes and three-dimensional paper masks. Allen says the ArtLab leaders try to pick projects in which all students will enjoy participating. “Something that’s engaging enough for those that are somewhat artistic, but not so challenging that those who are not or who have very little background (in art) won’t get frustrated,” Allen explains. The teacher first introduces the project, Allen says, and then demonstrates what the students are going to create. Some kids dive right in to creating, while others hesitate a bit. But a burning question percolates up from most of the young minds: Can we take the artwork home? w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 33
“The kids sometimes ask if their work will be hung in the museum,” Allen says, grinning.
‘Like scaffolding’ During the hour-long tour, docents show students a variety of objects. They receive nine months of training to meet the learners where they are, she says, learning to ask open-ended questions such as “What colors do you notice in this?” or “What do you think is going on here?” “(It is) to get the kids to start thinking about it critically and that communication aspect so they’re starting to talk about it,” Stempien explains. “And then it’s like scaffolding. You kind of build.” Allen, Stempien and Cassie Tighe-Hansen, assistant curator of youth and family programs at the KIA, believe in and emphasize the importance of teaching kids about art. For one, it fosters creativity and imagination, Stempien says, but looking and talking about art also encourages critical thinking about the world around them. “They can take this beyond the museum and into their everyday lives,” Stempien says. “To me that’s why something like this is so incredibly important.” Another important factor: demonstrating to the children that creating art can be an occupation.
34 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
“They meet artists when they’re here doing the program, and they’re seeing things that are made by people who have chosen to do this for their life’s work,” Stempien says. “Today I think there’s that disconnect.” Prior to working at the KIA, Tighe-Hansen was an art teacher for 20 years, primarily for high schools in the Chicago suburbs. Now
she helps schools and families coordinate their ArtLab visits. To Tighe-Hansen, ArtLab is a different kind of classroom. Projecting an image on the wall in art class, she says, doesn’t have the same impact as standing directly in front of a painting in a museum. “You see the strokes and the colors and the dimensions and how things shift,” she
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says. “You see the amount of time somebody spent to work on something (and that) it was thought out and time and talent was spent on it.” A teacher wanting to schedule ArtLab works directly with Tighe-Hansen, who assists the teacher with asking the principal, provides an educator pack, and even tries to help find funding for busing. And it doesn’t have to be a school’s art teacher who schedules a visit, says Stempien. “It can be a classroom teacher looking to add an experience for their students for the year.” Involved with ArtLab for 19 years now, Stempien says she never tires of watching as docents break down a painting into themes and ideas that can be understood by a young audience, and then seeing the “aha” expressions appear on youngsters’ faces. “You see a kid kind of light up because they’ve made a connection or they feel gratified because a comment they made was heard and thought to be interesting,” Stempien says. “That they made an interesting observation about a work of art — that’s gold right there to me.”
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Seeking the man behind the myth leads writer on journey by
It all started with a son’s simple questions: “Have you
ever heard of Johnny Appleseed? Was he real, Mom?” Those questions in June 2014 set Kalamazoo writer Jennifer Clark on a quest to find out who the man behind the Johnny Appleseed mythology really was, and she spent the next 17 months learning and writing about him. The result is Clark’s new poetry collection, Johnny Appleseed: The Slice and Times of John Chapman (Shabda Press, 2018). But hold on, those of you who shy away from poetry. Just as John Chapman was more than the mythical Johnny Appleseed, Clark’s book is more than poetry — it’s American history, told through an eight-page prologue, 52 poems and 32 pages of notes, plus maps, photos and illustrations. Yes, Clark did her research, and as she delved into the life of Chapman — who was born two years before the U.S. declared independence and died 16 years before the start of the Civil War — she also explored that era of American history: an era of slaves and slaveholders, pioneers and displaced Native Americans, passenger pigeons and Pony Express riders, religious revivals and large-scale consumption of hard cider. “I really had the feeling of going down a river and you see two ways you can go and you ask yourself, ‘Which way?’ I kept seeing new things and wanting to explore,” says Clark.
Clark’s choice of poetry for the book allowed her to take facts about Chapman and his era and wed them to her own imaginings to bring him and others to life. In her poem “Once John’s Feet Started West, They Didn’t Stop,” Clark writes of the day when Chapman and his half-brother Nathaniel left home: “Easy to imagine— younger siblings wailing, / older ones begging to come along, / parents unable to hide relief / as four feet leave behind the clamor / of fourteen bodies pressed into four / hundred square feet of house.” “Poetry gets at the emotion, into the heart,” Clark says. “I wanted to get into the soul of who he was as a man.” So, who was this guy with the tin pot on his head and apple seeds in his hand?
36 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
‘Into the heart’
Poet and writer Jennifer Clark explored the real-life world of John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, for her new book.
Well, for one, John Chapman was a spiritual man, says Clark. He carried the writings of the Swedish Christian philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, wherever he went and would leave pages from Swedenborg’s pamphlets in the homes of people he met. Chapman saw himself as a gatherer and planter of seeds, and apple seeds were his way to connect with others and share readings from the Bible and Swedenborg. But he wasn’t the teetotaler or vegetarian of myth. He drank brandy and whiskey, ate pork, and purchased gunpowder and tobacco. He was also a businessman and landowner who was savvy about selling saplings to settlers and generous with his possessions. Clark’s poem “John Meets a Woman,” tells of Chapman giving his cabin, cow and orchard to a widow with four children, then setting off down the Ohio River.
Kalamazoo connection Chapman was born in Massachusetts, but his seed planting took him to Pennsylvania,
Ohio and Indiana (he died in Fort Wayne). It was in Ohio, Clark discovered, that Chapman owned land next to Enoch Harris, who later moved to Michigan and planted the first
apple orchard in what is now Oshtemo Township. Clark was thrilled to find this Kalamazoo connection. Perhaps the seeds Harris brought from Ohio were obtained from Chapman, says Clark, and perhaps he even tended Chapman’s orchard in Ohio when Chapman was away. Clark writes about Harris in her poem “Man of Many Firsts,” and his local significance goes far beyond apples. Harris’ mother was a former slave, and his father, according to one source, held the highest office in the land. Harris was well respected by other settlers, and people went to him for help in settling disputes. He also helped escaping slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Many of his and his wife Deborah’s descendants still live in this area, including Angelica Robert, whom Clark talked with for her book. Not as much is known about Deborah as Enoch, but surely she must have been the person cooking the meals that are mentioned in historical accounts, Clark and Robert agreed, so Clark wrote a poem about
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HEAR THE POET READ What: Jennifer Clark will give a reading of her poems from the Johnny Appleseed book. Others reading their work will be Ladislav Hanka and Elizabeth Kerlikowske. When: 7 p.m. Nov. 7 Where: K azoo Books, 2413 Parkview Ave.
Winter Hours: Mon. – Fri. 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Sat. and other times by appointment
Deborah preparing a meal from a bear her husband shot. “I love the fact that she has her own poem now,” says Clark. Clark was keen to give voice to those whose voices are often left out of historical accounts. Escaping slaves John Little and his wife also have their own poem, “To Keep the Hounds at Bay,” which incorporates words written by Little himself. The poem imagines John Chapman sleeping in the forest as the Littles run. Clark says she was not able to find direct evidence of Chapman’s beliefs about slavery, but much of what she learned about him suggests to her he would have been a staunch opponent. “Emanuel Swedenborg taught that a life of kindness is the primary meaning of divine worship. That is truly the life John Chapman led,” Clark says. “He gave the clothes off his back to people.” After her book was published, Clark found out that one of her ancestors might have known John Chapman. Joab Squire, Clark’s great-great-greatgreat-great-grandfather born in 1777, lived about 23 miles southeast of Sandusky, Ohio, not far from where Chapman spent his time. In a memoir outline written by Squire’s greatgrandson Ira Squire, the section on Joab’s life includes these words: “THE ORCHARD— JOHNNY APPLE SEED (sic).” That might seem a fitting conclusion to Clark’s quest, but she says she still isn’t done learning about Chapman. “I’m still researching. … I think it will be a lifelong interest.” Read Clark’s poem, “Ledgers from dry goods stores” from Johnny Appleseed: The Slice and Times of John Chapman, on page 43.
38 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
PERFORMING ARTS THEATER Plays It Can't Happen Here — A journalist explores responsibility and freedom of the American press, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1–3, 2 p.m. Nov. 4, Balch Playhouse, Kalamazoo College, 337-7333. A Doll's House, Part 2 — A sequel to Ibsen's play that poses insightful questions about marriage, gender inequality and human rights, 8 p.m. Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17; 2 p.m. Nov. 3, 4, 11 & 18; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 & 15, Farmers Alley Theatre, 221 Farmers Alley, 343-2727. The Lady in Question — A satire about a 1940s concert pianist who aids a professor in rescuing his mother from a Nazi prison, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9, 10, 15, 16 & 17; 2 p.m. Nov. 18, Shaw Theatre, WMU, 387-2300. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane — Civic Youth Theatre production about a porcelain toy rabbit who learns what it is to love, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9, 10 & 16; 4 p.m. Nov. 10; 2 p.m. Nov. 11 & 17; 9:30 a.m. Nov. 14 & 15; noon Nov. 14 & 15, Parish Theatre, 405 W. Lovell St., 343-1313. Musicals Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown — A zany new musical about women and the men who pursue them, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1, 2 & 3; 2 p.m. Nov. 4, Williams Theatre, WMU, 387-6222. Honk! Jr. — Center Stage Theatre presents a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 & 3, 2 p.m. Nov. 4, Comstock Auditorium, 2107 N. 26th St., centerstagetheatrekalamazoo.com. Monty Python's Spamalot — A musical comedy about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in search of the Holy Grail, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 & 10, 2 p.m. Nov. 10, 1 p.m. Nov. 11, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. A Christmas Carol — Dickens' holiday classic, Nov. 16–Dec. 28, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328, thenewvictheatre.org. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang — A family-friendly musical adventure about an out-of-this-world car that flies, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23, 24 & 30, Dec. 1, 7 & 8; 2 p.m. Nov. 25, Dec. 2 & 9, Civic Auditorium, 329 S. Park St., 343-1313. Next Stop, Broadway — WMU Music Theatre students join Broadway star Brenda Braxton for this cabaret event, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29–Dec. 1, Williams Theatre, WMU, 387-2300. Other Thunder from Down Under — Australian male revue, 8 p.m. Nov. 14, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500.
MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Arlo Guthrie’s "Alice's Restaurant" Tour — Folk singer/songwriter and storyteller, 8 p.m. Nov. 2, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band — Blues and rock band, 8 p.m. Nov. 3, State Theatre, 345-6500. Tim Reynolds & TR3 — Alternative rock, jam and acoustic band, 8:30 p.m. Nov. 7, Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382-2332. Jake Shimabukuro — Ukulele player and composer, 8 p.m. Nov. 8, State Theatre, 345-6500. The Lower Leisure Class — The "ultimate DadRock band" releases its debut LP, 9 p.m. Nov. 9, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Kalamashoegazer 12 — Music festival featuring Ringo Deathstarr, Brief Candles, Sea Shine, Tambourina, Tears Run Rings, Airiel, Soft Science and Springhouse, 4:30 p.m. Nov. 10, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Second Sundays Live: Susan Harrison Band — Local blues, pop and Americana band, 2 p.m. Nov. 11, Parchment Community Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747. Anna Burch — Indie, pop and folk singer/ songwriter, 8 p.m. Nov. 11, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Tanya Tucker — American country music artist, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, State Theatre, 345-6500. That 1 Guy — Mike Silverman with his curious musical instrument and originality, 9 p.m. Nov. 15, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. EGi — Jam band, 8:30 p.m. Nov. 16, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Loaves and Fishes Benefit Concert — K'zoo Folklife Organization presents an evening of acoustic performers, including Joel Mabus, The Out of Favor Boys 3, Remix, Carrie McFerrin and Matt Borr, Somewhere in Time and The Clearwaters, raising funds and food donations for needy families, 6–10 p.m. Nov. 17, Trinity Lutheran Church, 504 S. Westnedge Ave., 209-0371. The Music of Cream: 50th Anniversary World Tour — Multimedia concert featuring family members of the '60s trio, 8 p.m. Nov. 17, State Theatre, 345-6500. Bob Lanzetti — Member of Snarky Puppy performs jazz and funk, 8:30 p.m. Nov. 18, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Greensky Bluegrass — Bluegrass/rock band, 8 p.m. Nov. 23 & 24, State Theatre, 345-6500. David Crosby & Friends — Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and the Lighthouse band, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 25, State Theatre, 345-6500. Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More Connecting Chords Music Festival — Multiple events presented by Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, through Nov. 25; see ccmusicfest.com for schedule. University Symphony Orchestra — 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667.
Gold Company Sneak Preview — Featuring the WMU vocal jazz ensemble, 8 p.m. Nov. 2, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Kate Lindsey & Baptiste Trotignon — Fontana presents the mezzo-soprano and jazz pianist, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3, Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 382-7774. Paul Shaffer in Symphony — The longtime musical director for David Letterman joins the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and shares his stories and favorite pop, R&B and jazz tunes, 8 p.m. Nov. 3, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 349-7759. Bronco Marching Band Concert — 3 p.m. Nov. 4, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Around the World in 80 Years — Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra concert, featuring violinist and Stulberg 2018 Bronze Medalist Maya Anjali Buchanan, 4 p.m. Nov. 4, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 349-7557. Gilmore Rising Star Zoltán Fejérvári — The Hungarian pianist performs works by Schumann, Janácek, Bartók and Schubert, 4 p.m. Nov. 4, Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 342-1166. Tubist Benjamin Pierce — Guest artist recital, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Electroacoustic Surround Sound Concert — 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Western Winds — Bullock Performance Institute concert, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7, with pre-concert talk at 7 p.m., Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Jazz Band Concert — 8 p.m. Nov. 9, Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College, 337-7070. Susannah — Kalamazoo Philharmonia in collaboration with the West Michigan Opera Project, 8 p.m. Nov. 10, Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College, 337-7070. College Singers Concert — 3 p.m. Nov. 11, Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College, 337-7070. International Percussion Concert — 7 p.m. Nov. 13, Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College, 337-7070. Gabriela Montero — The Venezuelan pianist performs as part of the Gilmore's Piano Masters Series, 8 p.m. Nov. 15, Chenery Auditorium, 359-7311. Harpsichordist Emily Solomon — Alumna recital, 8 p.m. Nov. 16, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Sibelius & Dvorák — The KSO presents Sibelius' Symphony No. 5 and cellist Nina Kotova performing Dvorák's Cello Concerto, 8 p.m. Nov. 17, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 349-7759. Big Band Swing Tribute: University Jazz Orchestra and University Jazz Lab Band — 3 p.m. Nov. 18, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-4667. Western Horn Choir — 5 p.m. Nov. 19, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Live Electronics — Guest artist recital, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 28, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667.
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EVENTS ENCORE Mannheim Steamroller Christmas — Christmas classics and selections from the Fresh Aire series, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 28, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Student Composers II — 8 p.m. Nov. 30, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. DANCE Orchesis Dance Concert — Featuring WMU student choreography, 8 p.m. Nov. 7–10, 2 p.m. Nov. 10 & 11, Studio B, Dalton Center, WMU, 387-2300. Eyes Back, Feet Forward: Fall Concert of Dance — Reconstructions of works by modern dance choreographers, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 8 p.m. Nov. 16, 2 & 8 p.m. Nov. 17, Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 342-4354. The Princess and the Pea — Ballet Arts Ensemble retells Hans Christian Andersen's enchanting story, 2 p.m. Nov. 17 & 18, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 387-2300. Wisteria: A Student Collaborative Project — Featuring WMU dance and theater students, 7 & 9 p.m. Nov. 30, Dalton Center, WMU, 387-5830. COMEDY Crawlspace Eviction: Borscht — Improv and sketch comedy show inspired by soups, 8 p.m. Nov. 16 & 17, Crawlspace Comedy Theatre, 315 W. Michigan Ave., 599-7390 VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775 Exhibits The Way Forward: New Acquisitions at the KIA — Paintings, photography, mixed media, prints and ceramics, through Dec. 2. Inka Essenhigh: A Fine Line — Large-format paintings filled with otherworldly expression, through Jan. 6.
do it — An exhibition engaging the local community in responding to instructions by artists, through March 3. Events ARTbreak — Weekly program about art, artists and exhibitions: Inside the Connecting Chords Music Festival, talk by Elizabeth Start, Nov. 6; Homage to Modern Dance: 4 Works by 4 Choreographers, talk by dancer and choreographer Cori Terry, Nov. 13; Who's Afraid of Conceptual Art?, Part 2, video, Nov. 20; Do It Yourself, talk, Mandy Clearwaters and Jeff Abshear display their creations from the do it exhibition, Nov. 27; sessions begin at noon, KIA Auditorium. Sunday Tour — Docent-led tours: do it, Nov. 11; The Way Forward: New Acquisitions at the KIA, Nov. 25, sessions begin at 2 p.m. Unreeled: Film at the KIA: Remember the Alamo + GR Comic-Con — Two locally produced documentaries and discussion with filmmakers Chad Campbell and Tyler Mayes, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15. KIA Holiday Sale — Purchase art created by art school students and faculty, 5–8 p.m. Nov. 29 (Member's Night) & 30, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Dec. 1. Richmond Center for Visual Arts Western Michigan University, 387-2436 Yuanliang Sun: Landscape Restructured — Explore the cultural transformation of modernday China and the hidden side of globalization, Nov. 15–Dec. 9, with members' preview and reception Nov. 14, 5–7 p.m., Netzorg and Kerr Gallery. WMU Art Faculty Exhibition — Nov. 15–Dec. 9, Monroe-Brown Gallery. Other Venues Christopher Light — Inspirations: Flower Photography from Film to Digital, 1995– 2018 — Exhibition of photography, through Nov. 30, Glen Vista Gallery, Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574.
Art Hop — Art at various Kalamazoo locations, 5–8 p.m. Nov. 2, 342-5059. Ali Hansen & Mary Burke — These printmakers display their monotypes, accordion books, broadsides and prints, 6–9 p.m. Nov. 2, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Ste. 103A, 373-4938. Painting in the Parks — Create a masterpiece of your own, 6–9 p.m. Nov. 15, Schrier Park, 350 W. Osterhout Ave., Portage, 329-4522. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library Meet the Authors — Children's book authors Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm speak about their work and sign books, 6:30–9 p.m. Nov. 1, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., 342-9837. Mary Calletto Rife Youth Literature Seminar — Authors Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm speak about the importance of choice for youth, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Nov. 2, Fetzer Center, WMU, 553-7804; registration required. Dia de los Muertos Family Concert — Day of the Dead celebration concert with local band J.L.S. Experience, 2 p.m. Nov. 3, Alma Powell Branch, 1000 W. Paterson, 553-7960. First Saturday @ KPL — Family event with stories, activities, special guests and door prizes, 2–3:30 p.m. Nov. 3, Central Library, 342-9837. Michigan, My Michigan: A History of This State: Mining, Manufacturing and Agriculture — Lynn Houghton discusses Michigan's growth and development from its early beginnings to recent years, 7 p.m. Nov. 8, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 342-9837. A Veteran Program: A Special Honor for Our Female Vets — Hear and share stories focusing on female veterans, 6 p.m. Nov. 13, Alma Powell Branch, 553-7960.
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ENCORE EVENTS Author Visit: Drew Philp — The journalist speaks about his book A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 342-9837. 5th Annual "Can Poetry Be Funny?" — Friends of Poetry reading, 7 p.m. Nov. 14, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 342-9837. Classics Revisited — Discussion of Emma, by Jane Austen, 7 p.m. Nov. 15, Boardroom, Central Library, 342-9837. Novel Ideas Book Club — Discuss your favorite books read in 2018, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 26, Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St., 553-7980. Reading Race Book Group — Discussion of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 27, Alma Powell Branch, 553-7960. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747 Parchment Book Group — Discussion of News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5. Yum's the Word: Kelvin & Co. Urban BBQ & Catering — Chef Mark Nieuwenhuis talks about slow-cooking meat to perfection, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14; registration required. Front Page: Donuts & Discussion: Future Leaders — Parchment High School students share their vision for the future, 10:30 a.m.–noon Nov. 17. Author Visit: Mystery Book Club — Meet mystery writer and trial lawyer Jonathan F. Putnam, author of These Honored Dead, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19. Book Discussion with Richard Wall — A discussion of Carol Wall's 2014 memoir, Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 26. Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544 Go VR: Storytelling — An introduction to Oculus Go Virtual Reality and some short adventures, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6; registration required. International Mystery Book Discussion: Oxford, England — Discussion of The Oxford Murders, by Guillermo Martinez, 7 p.m. Nov. 8. SciFi/Fantasy Discussion: The Creatures from the World of Harry Potter — Look at the creatures from the Harry Potter movies and books, 7 p.m. Nov. 13. Open for Discussion — Discussion of Swamplandia, by Karen Russell, 10:30 a.m. Nov. 20. Other Venues Kalamazoo Valley's 2018–19 Visiting Writer Series — Novelists Thisbe Nissen and Jay Baron Nicorvo speak Nov. 13; craft talks at 10 a.m., readings at 2:15 p.m.; Student Commons Theater, Room 4240, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, 6767 West O Ave., 488-4685.
MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, Portage, 382-6555 Wild Weather — Hands-on, immersive journey through the science of extreme weather, through January 2019. Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990 U2 — Classic U2 hits set to mesmerizing lights and imagery, 4 p.m. Sat., through Nov. 17, Planetarium. Distant Worlds: Alien Life? — Investigate the conditions required for life on planets and moons
in our solar system, 4 p.m. Sun., through Nov. 18, Planetarium. Halloween: Celestial Origins — Discover Halloween's ties to the sky and its historical and cultural roots, 3 p.m. Tues. & Thurs., 2 p.m. Sat., through Nov. 20, Planetarium. Mysteries of the Great Lakes — Explore the origins, coastlines and unique wildlife of the Great Lakes, 3 p.m. Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat. & Sun., through Nov. 21, Planetarium. Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture of the Interior — Designs of the American architect's houses and their interiors, through Dec. 9.
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EVENTS ENCORE Bikes: Science on Two Wheels — Interactive exhibits about the history and evolution of the bicycle, through Jan. 6. Your Kalamazoo Wings! The First 45 Years — The history and culture of Kalamazoo's oldest professional sports franchise, through March 31. Sunday Series: Drones — Jeff Cachero discusses how drones are being used for everyday practical purposes, 1:30 p.m. Nov. 11. NATURE Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574 Evening Prairie Hike — Hike to the Emma Pitcher Tallgrass Prairie to identify prairie plants, 5 p.m. Nov. 15. Turkey Trot — Hike and search for wild turkeys, 2 p.m. Nov. 25. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510 Fall Migration Celebration — Identify the waterfowl at Wintergreen Lake and participate in activities along the trail, 1–4 p.m. Nov. 4. Birds and Coffee Walk — A morning bird walk and discussion over coffee, 9–10:30 a.m. Nov. 14. Other Venues Fall Color Hike — Enjoy the fall season and create art from autumn leaves and seeds, 10 a.m. Nov. 10, West Lake Nature Preserve, 9001 S. Westnedge, Portage, 329-4522. Audubon Society of Kalamazoo — Catherine Lindell speaks on "American Kestrels and Ecosystem Services in Michigan's Fruit-Growing Regions," 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26, People's Church, 1758 N. 10th St., 375-7210. MISCELLANEOUS Kalamazoo Farmers Market — 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat., through November, 1204 Bank St., 359-6727. Kalamazoo Film Society – Celebrate KFS’ 30 years of bringing movies that matter to
Southwest Michigan: first-run feature film, Nov. 1, Celebration! Cinema, 6600 Ring Road, Portage; award-winning short films, 5–8 p.m. Nov. 2, Jolliffe Theatre, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall; black and white event, including reception, film and discussion, TBD Nov. 3, Jolliffe Theatre, check kalfilmsociety.net for schedule. Kalamazoo Indoor Flea Market — New and used items, antiques and handcrafted items, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Nov. 3, 8:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Nov. 20, 21, 27 & 28, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., 383-8778. Christmas Boutique Arts & Crafts Show — Artisans and crafters from throughout the Midwest, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Nov. 3, Kalamazoo County Expo Center South, 327-5373. Kalamazoo Numismatic Club Fall Coin Show — Buy, sell and trade coins, paper money and memorabilia, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Nov. 3, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 381-8669. Haunted History of Kalamazoo Tour — The paranormal history of the city, 8–10 p.m. Nov. 3, starts in Bronson Park, 220-9496. Great Grown-up Spelling Bee — Adult spelling bee to support Ready to Read, 6–9 p.m. Nov. 7, East Ballroom, Bernhard Center, WMU, 553-7885. West Michigan Harvest Cluster AKC Dog Show — Conformation, obedience and rally trials, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Nov. 8–9, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Nov. 10–11, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 616-706-2314. Kalamazoo Holiday Parade — Marching bands, holiday-themed floats and giant balloons, 11 a.m. Nov. 10, downtown Kalamazoo, 344-0795. Warren Miller Entertainment's Faces of Winter — Film featuring the world's best skiers and riders in legendary destinations, 3 & 8 p.m. Nov. 10, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. Weavers and Fiber Artists Sale — Handwoven items, hand-spun yarn, gifts and ornaments, 5–8 p.m. Nov. 15, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Nov. 16, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Nov. 17, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, weaversguildofkalamazoo.org. Kick-Off Classic Synchronized Skating Competition — Skating competition featuring over 130 teams from the U.S. and Canada, Nov. 16–18, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125. Holiday Expo & Craft Show — Michigan vendors and crafters, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Nov. 17, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Nov. 18, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 903-5820. Turkey Trot 5K Time Prediction Run — Kalamazoo Area Runners host the Thanksgiving Day morning run, 9 a.m. Nov. 22, Portage West Middle School, 7145 Moorsbridge Road, karturkeytrot.wordpress.com. Holiday Walk & Market — Tour the decorated W.K. Kellogg Manor House and buy handcrafted gifts, noon–5 p.m. Nov. 23 & 24, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners, 671-2160. Tree Lighting Ceremony — Lighting of Kalamazoo's Christmas trees, 5–7:30 p.m. Nov. 23, Bronson Park, 337-8191, kzooparks.org. Kalamazoo Antique Toy Show — Antique, vintage and collectible toys, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Nov. 24, Kalamazoo County Expo Center South, 262366-1314. Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Buy, sell or trade reptiles, amphibians and small mammals, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Nov. 24, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, Room A, 779-9851. Meet the Artists Night — Meet local artists and vendors selling gifts, 6:30–8:30 p.m. Nov. 28, W.K. Kellogg Manor House, 671-2160. Holiday Gifts & Greens Sale — Live greenery on sale by Kalamazoo Garden Council, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Nov. 30, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Dec. 1, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, kalamazoogardencouncil.org.
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Ledgers from dry goods stores
This sketch by an unknown artist depicts a young John Chapman planting apple seeds and was first published in Stories of Ohio, by William Dean Howells (American Book Co., 1897).
lay bare the facts, even as the brush of myth is busy painting a saint, a vegetarian, plunging John Chapman through the hungry forest of fables with nary a knife,
But, for now, John strides into the Holland Land Company, buys three pairs of â€œmockasins,â€? brandy, whiskey, chocolate, sugar, gunpowder, tobacco, and pork.
emerging a masterpieceâ€” Johnny Appleseed, a Forrest Gump of the nineteenth centuryâ€” splitting rails with Lincoln, traveling with Audubon and gazing over his shoulder as he sketches.
Truth is, he is hard on shoes, has a penchant for snuff.
Portraits, even copies of copies, can bristle with truth. Maybe John becomes a vegetarian late in life, maybe he goes without shoes when he comes upon someone else more in need.
â€” Jennifer Clark This poem is from Clarkâ€™s new collection, Johnny Appleseed: The Slice and Times of John Chapman (Shabda Press) and is an example of the way her work aims to separate the myths about Johnny Appleseed from facts about the real man behind the myths, John Chapman. A story on her new book appears on Page 36.
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Kalamazoo Institute of Arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
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Kalamazoo Singers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Keyser Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Lewis Reed & Allen, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 LVM Capital Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 MacKenzies’ Café & Bakery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Sean McCann for State Senate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Metro Toyota . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Parkway Plastic Surgery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services . . . . . . . . . . .13 Portage Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Potter's Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Principle Food & Drink . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Ray Financial Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Reverence Home Health & Hospice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Jeff K. Ross Financial Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Saffron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Salt of the Earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Southern Michigan Bank & Trust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
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Willis Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 WMUK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Zooroona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
44 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
BACK STORY (continued from page 46)
“Growing up, I thought everybody was a musician,” the 41-year-old says. “That was normal, and that was home base. Music was a big part of my life — it was my center — and when I graduated from university, I knew in my heart of hearts that music was what really fulfilled me.”
Was it easy to switch gears? No. After I graduated I played violin in a Brazilian folk rock band. We just recorded an album and were going on tour in Brazil. The singer who led the band came to me on the airplane and said, “Julian, we're about to land in Brazil. We’re going to be on television and the radio, and when people ask you about yourself, they don't want to hear that you're an engineer that plays music on the side. You tell them, ‘I'm a musician’ because this is why you're here.” I thought, “OK, that's smart. I'll play along.” And I did. The more I said it, (the more) I felt that it was a deeper truth than I even wanted to admit. It was difficult to let go of the time investment and everything I put into my science studies, but I realized I don't have to give up my curiosity. To this day, I love mathematical problems and all sorts of things that I learned during that period of my life.
How did you go from a Brazilian folk band to becoming a conductor? The band broke up, as they do, and some of my friends were filmmakers and asked
me to write a score for their film. It was this really low-budget, self-produced thing, and it was terrible. It never made it to release, but it was my first contact with film scoring and composing and creating music for a larger group. When I had to record the score, I called in all my favors with my friends. We had one recording session at my parents' house with 20 musicians. It was the first time I got to conduct something seriously, and it was my own music. I'd always assumed that conducting was kind of easy but discovered, first of all, how hard it was, but also that it was the best way for me to use all of my talents — the musicianship, the organization, the leadership, everything. It was this awakening moment. I wanted to take care of the whole and to be involved in the whole. I was 24 and felt that I needed to catch up because many music directors have their first posts at 21 or 22. I returned to the University of Toronto and did an apprenticeship with Boris Brott at the National Academy Orchestra. He gave me my first big break, allowing me to conduct the Beethoven Fifth Piano Concerto, where my father was the soloist. I moved to Europe because I wanted to learn another language and studied at the University of Berlin for three years. I founded a music collective there called Kaleidoscope that put together works by brand-new composers and ancient works by
old composers. It was a very wacky group with a lot of out-of-the box thinking. I stayed there for two years, until I went to Budapest to be an assistant conductor of the Festival Orchestra. Then I went to the Boston Symphony Orchestra as assistant conductor, and I’ve traveled all over the world working as a guest conductor.
What intrigued you about the position with the KSO? I came here expecting something good, but what I found was something incredible in terms of how the organization is run, the people behind it, the support of all of the patrons and people who have a vested interest in the orchestra. Working with the orchestra felt so natural and so right. I felt that immediately.
What are your challenges in this job? I'm coming in after a long period with one music director (Raymond Harvey, who served for 18 years), and I've got different ideas and things that I want to try that could shake up the format a little bit. But I know that there are a lot of people who have embraced the way that the symphony does things. Before I make big changes I need to know my public first. I need to be really aware of how they feel and how they respond, so I think my biggest challenge is to serve a community that I'm still getting to know. – Interview by Marie Lee
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BACK STORY ENCORE
Music Director Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Julian Kuerti, who was named music director of the Kalamazoo
Symphony Orchestra in June, remembers the exact moment he knew he wanted to be a conductor: He was working in a basement laser lab during his final semester at the University of Toronto, weeks before he would graduate with an honors degree in physics and engineering. “I felt this kind of Twilight Zone type of zoom-out moment where I saw my entire life and realized I would remain underground staring at computer screens until I was an old man, and this terrified me,” he recalls. “I thought to myself, ‘This isn't what life is about. This is not what I love. This is not what I enjoy.’” What he did enjoy was music. The son of famed Canadian concert pianist Anton Kuerti and cellist Kristine Bogyo, Julian grew up surrounded by music, played the violin and was the concertmaster of one of the University of Toronto’s two orchestras. (continued on page 45)
46 | ENCORE NOVEMBER 2018
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Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Meet the 'guitar whisperer' Rendal Wall; Pachamama Street Food, the KSO's Julian Kuerti, Johnny Appleseed-ins...
Published on Oct 25, 2018
Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Meet the 'guitar whisperer' Rendal Wall; Pachamama Street Food, the KSO's Julian Kuerti, Johnny Appleseed-ins...