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Friday, July 11, 2008

Pine Mountain to present "La Tragédie de Carmen" at Calumet Theatre July 13

CALUMET -- If you thought Bizet’s Carmen was intense and dramatic, you will be amazed by La Tragédie de Carmen, a provocative adaptation by English theatre and film director Peter Brook. Searching for a deeper humanity in Carmen, Brook delves into Prosper Mérimée's original story. Pine Mountain Music Festival (PMMF) celebrates 18 Years in Love with Music! with a production of La Tragédie de Carmen at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 13, at the Calumet Theatre, 340 Sixth St., Calumet.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for students/children and are now available at the Rozsa Center Box Office on the Michigan Tech Campus; at the Calumet Theatre, 340 6th St., Calumet; on-line at; or by calling 487-3200. Tickets will also be available at the door. All seats are general admission.

The Festival's production, directed by PMMF artistic director, Joshua Major, and conducted by Maestro Steven Byess,* will be performed by PMMF's remarkable Resident Opera Artists, who will bring you a version of Carmen not to be missed. The performance will begin with an introduction by the director, and the opera will be sung in French with English supertitles. This electrifying and emotional adaptation, with its familiar music and streamlined plot, has been thrilling audiences for more than 25 years.

Maestro Steven Byess returns to the Pine Mountain Music Festival to conduct the Festival Orchestra in Peter Brook's La Tragédie de Carmen at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 13, at the Calumet Theatre. (Photo courtesy Pine Mountain Music Festival.)

Peter Van Pelt, chairman of the PMMF Management Committee, attended a rehearsal and shared this reaction to the production:

"Last Saturday, as a trustee of Pine Mountain Music Festival, I saw the first run-through of La Tragédie de Carmen, with Russell Miller on the piano," Van Pelt said. "This is a special and powerful theatrical experience. It is like a piece of theater, with all the incidentals stripped away, plus Bizet's music and the Festival's Resident Opera Artists' strong, enthralling singing."

Van Pelt noted the production is about one hour and ten minutes, with no intermission; Director Joshua Major will give an introduction to the show at curtain time.

Joshua Major will direct the Pine Mountain Music Festival's production of Peter Brook's La Tragédie de Carmen at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 13, at the Calumet Theatre. (Photo courtesy Pine Mountain Music Festival.)

"The singers are dressed to character, including Carmen in brilliant red skirt and Escamillo poured into all black as befits a toreador," Van Pelt added. "The staging is spare but creative and clear. I knew it would be simple and would have Bizet's music, but I didn't know it would be this gripping."

Van Pelt said the PMMF production might even appeal to people who think they don't like opera.

"It is gritty, direct, tough, unadorned and ultimately beautiful and satisfying," he noted. "It's a powerful show."

Carmen, by French Composer Georges Bizet, is based primarily on Chapter 3 of the novella by Mérimée, and omits characters in the first two chapters. La Tragédie de Carmen is based on the whole story and stays true to the nature of the original book. It is a gritty and emotional story of obsession, jealousy and betrayal. The New York Times called Brook’s innovative version of Carmen "a raw, brutal tale of mutual self destruction that’s fueled by both lust and existential bloodlust -- and is as deadly for others as it is for [the protagonists]."

For those who would like to read the whole story, an electronic version of Prosper Mérimée's novella is on the Festival's Web site.

PMMF patrons may also enjoy a post-opera reception at the Vertin Art Studio and Gallery, 220 Sixth St., Calumet, for a $2.00 minimum donation at the door. It will be a chance to meet the artists and celebrate the end of a successful 2008 season.

This theatrical and musical tour de force may also be experienced at the Crystal Theatre in Crystal Falls at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 11.

La Tragédie de Carmen is made possible with the support of the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

* Editor's Note: In the summer of 2007, Maestro Byess conducted Bernstein's Candide at the Pine Mountain Music Festival. He is the Music Director of the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra and serves as Cover Conductor for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Opera Conductor for the Cleveland Institute of Music and California State University -- Los Angeles. He recently finished an eleven-year tenure as the Associate Music Director of the Ohio Light Opera where he conducted, to critical acclaim, over 400 performances of 50 diverse operas, operettas, and musical theater works. (Read more about Steven Byess on his Web site.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Updated: Free excursions aboard Agassiz research vessel at Chassell Strawberry Festival July 12

Michigan Tech's research vessel Agassiz awaits passengers between excursions during the 2007 Strawberry Festival in Chassell. (Keweenaw Now file photos © 2007 Michele Bourdieu)

HOUGHTON -- Get a view from the lake! Free 45-minute scientific excursions aboard Michigan Tech's research vessel Agassiz will be offered at the Chassell Strawberry Festival on Saturday, July 12.

Excursions will depart from the Chassell Marina at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.; if there is sufficient demand, a fourth will depart at 4 p.m. Come early to sign up. Seventeen persons may participate on each excursion (must be 7 years of age or older). Life jackets are available for all passengers. Displays and educational materials will be available for public viewing onshore.

Young passengers on the Agassiz observe samples of sediment from Portage Lake being collected by Martin Auer, MTU professor of civil and environmental engineering, as Agassiz Captain Stephen Roblee supervises during a 2007 Strawberry Festival educational excursion on the research vessel.

"Residents and visitors are encouraged to discover how scientists study the Great Lakes and what factors contribute to a healthy lake," says Joan Chadde, program coordinator. "These scientific excursions have been offered for the past two summers and have been very well attended. Youth and adults will enjoy the opportunity to interact with Great Lakes scientists and ask questions."

Aboard the Agassiz in July 2007, a curious young science student observes samples from the bottom of Portage Lake as MTU Professor Martin Auer explains some of the organisms on the slide. Both youth and adults have the opportunity to participate in the free excursions, which will be offered again this Saturday, July 12, during the 2008 Strawberry Festival in Chassell.

The event is coordinated by the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education with funding from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Coastal Management Program, Chassell Lions Club, the Wege Foundation, the Michigan Tech Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry and the Michigan Tech Remote Sensing Institute.

Update: See the complete Schedule of Events for the 2008 Strawberry Festival on the Einerei Web site.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Arts Center presents "Icarus Rising: Lessons from the Bees," exhibit through July 31

HANCOCK -- The Community Arts Center presents a new exhibit, "Icarus Rising: Lessons from the Bees," encaustic and beeswax collage and assemblages by Melissa Hronkin.

This piece by Melissa Hronkin, part of the current exhibit at the Community Arts Center in Hancock, is titled "Triptych in Frames from the Hive." (Photo by Gustavo Bourdieu)

Intimate in scale, this body of work (a sequel to work made 10 years ago) explores the use of beeswax as an art medium. The Mass City artist and beekeeper uses images depicting bees, beekeepers, the history of beekeeping, the lore surrounding this collaboration between humans and nature and human interrelationships.

"The sacred and sensual aspect of honey and beeswax is an area of interest for me," Hronkin writes in her statement about the work. "This new work is kind of a personal return to the 'quest,' the rising of Icarus, whose wings failed him because the wax that was holding them together melted when he flew too close to the sun."

"Sister Bee" is the title of this work by artist and teacher Melissa Hronkin, who is also a beekeeper. (Photo by Gustavo Bourdieu)

The exhibit will be on display in the Kerredge Gallery through July 31. The public is invited to come and meet the artist at a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 10.

This exhibit is supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. For more information call (906) 482-2333 or visit the website

Hronkin, who teaches art at Ontonagon High School, will offer a workshop -- "An Introduction to Experimental Encaustics and Beeswax collage" -- from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 15, at the Community Arts Center in Hancock. Since space is limited, interested persons should pre-register soon. Participants will learn about the history and contemporary uses of pigmented beeswax and create several small-scale pieces. The cost is $40 and includes all supplies. Call 482-2333 to sign up.

To learn more about encaustics or to view examples of artworks, please visit

Quincy Anniversary Special Events to include Tour of Company Housing July 10

By Michele Bourdieu

This is a historic photo of the gabled Quincy No. 2 shaft-rockhouse, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. A train trestle, pulley stands and the original hoist house are also visible. The negative is imprinted with the words "Quincy No 2 Shaft Rockhouse Photo By Isler." Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo and caption courtesy Michigan Tech Archives. Historic photos reprinted here with permission.)

HANCOCK -- The Quincy Mine Hoist Association and the Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) are celebrating the 2008 triple anniversary of the Quincy Mine with several events open to the public. The events commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Quincy Mining Company, the 100th anniversary of Quincy's No. 2 Shaft-Rockhouse and the 50th anniversary of the Quincy Mine Hoist Association.

This week's event, "Company Housing at the Quincy Mine," will be a car pool tour from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 10.

The Quincy Mining Company 's Clubhouse (bath house), completed in 1917, is in the lower left hand corner of this historic photo taken from the rockhouse at Quincy Location. Several houses enclosed by fences are shown. Laundry hangs out to dry, and a vintage automobile is parked near one of the houses. (Photo and caption courtesy Michigan Tech Archives)

Kim Hoagland, Michigan Tech University professor of history and historic preservation, will lead the tour, which departs from No. 2 Hoist House on U.S. 41 just outside of Hancock. Participants will car pool to different neighborhoods where the historic houses are located. Some are presently occupied.

This historic photo of the Quincy Mining Company's Frenchtown on Quincy Hill shows a dirt road with houses on either side. A note from original negative sleeve reads "Frenchtown." (Photo and caption courtesy Michigan Tech Archives)

Hoagland has a special interest in vernacular architecture and has a longstanding interest in workers' housing, focusing on the Copper Country. She served as Chair of the Steering Committee for "Key Ingredients Michigan Foodways," the Smithsonian/Michigan Humanities Council exhibit that was on display in Calumet last summer. She was also the curator for the exhibit "Minor Houses/Miner Houses: Copper Country Company Housing,” at the Keweenaw Heritage Center in Calumet in 2003 and 2004.*

Kim Hoagland, right, chair of the Key Ingredients Steering Committee, and Michigan Tech historian Larry Lankton welcomed visitors at the opening of the Key Ingredients and Michigan Foodways exhibits in the Keweenaw Heritage Center on July 14, 2007. Hoagland and Lankton are both participants in the Quincy Anniversary Special Events 2008. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2007)

During the first event of the Quincy anniversary series, "Understanding the Cultural Landscape at Quincy Mine / Quincy Fire Hall" on June 18, 2008, members of the Quincy Mine Hoist Association and KNHP staff led visitors on a walking tour of the Quincy No. 6 site, which includes the future site of Michigan Tech's Seaman Mineral Museum.

Scott See, Quincy Mine Hoist Association Board member, said the role of the Association was really as the landowner of this site.

"We wanted to get people out to see and appreciate the structures, ruins and natural areas," See said.

During the walking tour of some ruins of the No. 6 site at the Quincy Mine, Scott See, left foreground, and Erik Nordberg, on See's left, both Quincy Mine Hoist Association Board members, give some details of the miners' lives and how they used the Dry House, pictured in the background. Second from right, in the foreground is Steve DeLong, landscape architect for Keweenaw National Historical Park. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

Several of the visitors commented on the lilacs growing "wild" among the ruins.

According to Eric Nordberg, Quincy Mine Hoist Association Board member, planning for the future of the site includes identifying what is now there and deciding what to do with it. The hope is to plan smartly -- not change it so much that you lose the original, natural characteristics, he said.

Steve DeLong, KNHP landscape architect, pointed out some restoration efforts at stabilization that have already been done on some of the buildings.

"We're looking to the future of the landscape," DeLong said, "but also looking at how to preserve it."

Brenda Williams, historical landscape architect of Quinn Evans Architects of Madison, Wis., has been working with DeLong and other National Park Service staff and with Will Ballard, specialist in environmental assessment from Woolpert, Inc., on a cultural landscape report on the Quincy Unit of KNHP. Preceding the tour of the Quincy No. 6 site, Williams gave a talk on the report at the Quincy Fire Hall and invited the public to offer input.

She said the report is in two parts. Part 1, which is now nearly complete, consists of research and gathering an understanding of how the physical landscape has changed over time and what is here now today.

"(In Part 1) we begin to try to understand the different periods of history that are being represented by what is here today," Williams said. "We feel we're ready to begin Part 2."

In Part 2, she explained, the team working on the report will move into thinking about the future and decisions that have to be made concerning management of the landscape -- what you preserve or what you try to capture in the future in relation to what was there historically at different periods of time.

More Quincy Anniversary Events

The Quincy Anniversary series will also include events in August, September and October.

"The Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad (QTLRR) Roundhouse" will be the subject of a presentation by Chuck Pomazal, Clint Jones and Dennis Leopold from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9.

Al Johnson will lead a "Tour of Mesnard Shaft and Hoist House, Mesnard Location, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Erik Nordberg, Michigan Tech archivist, will present "Mining in the Movies" from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16, in Room 138, Fisher Hall, on the MTU campus.

Finally, Larry Lankton, MTU historian and author, will present "The Legacy of the Quincy Mine" from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Anniversary Banquet on Thursday, Nov. 13, in the Portage Room, Best Western Franklin Square Inn in Houghton.

*See the Summer 2007 issue of the Quincy Mine Hoist Association Newsletter on their Web site to read about Hoagland's Material Culture course in which she led students through a process of furnishing a Quincy Mining Co. house kitchen ca. 1910-1920.

For more information on Quincy Mine or Quincy Mine Tours and rates visit or call 906-482-3101.