Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

Northern Michigan is a place with incredible natural beauty and varied landscapes. It is also home to Interlochen Center for the Arts and several other longstanding cultural institutions. Little wonder the region has been so attractive to artists and musicians of all types. Here we bring you those stories. 

National Writers Series: An evening with Gillian Flynn

Jan 27, 2019
HJB Photo

Gillian Flynn is best known as the author of “Gone Girl.” She also wrote the screenplay of the film version. Since then, Gillian has written more for the big and small screen. She co-wrote the screenplay for the 2018 film “Widows,” as well as the TV adaptation of her book “Sharp Objects.” She also wrote the series “Utopia,” which will be released by Amazon this year. Doug Stanton spoke to Gillian at the Traverse City Opera House in April 2013. She told him she loved macabre stories since she was a child, when her father played her movies that were possibly inappropriate for her age.

National Writers Series: An evening with Harlan Coben

Jan 26, 2019

Harlan Coben has published over 30 novels. His book "Tell No One" was made into a film of the same name. In the past few years, Harlan’s created three TV shows available on Netflix: No Second Chance, The Five, and Safe. His latest novel “Run Away” will come out in March of this year. Doug Stanton spoke with Harlan on the stage of the Traverse City Opera House in July 2015. At that time, his book “The Stranger” had just come out. Doug asked Harlan to tell him about how he balances his work with his family life.  

National Writers Series: An evening with Greg Iles

Jan 26, 2019

Greg Iles is known for his Penn Cage series of thrillers that take place in Natchez, Mississippi. Iles’s newest book, coming out in March 2019, is “Cemetery Road.” It’s a stand-alone novel of friendship, betrayal, and secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town. Doug Stanton talked with Greg Iles at the Traverse City Opera House in April 2017. At that time, his book “Mississippi Blood” had just been released.  It’s the third book in his Natchez Burning trilogy. Greg Iles began writing the trilogy while recovering from a traffic accident that almost killed him.

Conducter Ara Sarkissian leads the newly-formed Interlochen Contemporary Music Ensemble during a recent rehearsal.
Dan Wanschura

A new contemporary music ensemble has formed at Interlochen Arts Academy. On Friday night, the group will perform a piece called “Workers Union,” written by Louis Andriessen in 1975.

 


The Accidentals are made up of Katie Larson, Sav Buist, and Michael Dause. The band recently had their trailer stolen while on tour in Arizona.
Sony Music Masterworks

Fans of The Accidentals are stepping up to support the band after someone stole their trailer. The group lost the trailer full of merchandise, sound equipment and a drum set while on tour in Arizona earlier this week

 

Essay: Conflict Resolution

Jan 23, 2019

When I was in junior high school, I wore my hair long and straight like most of the girls.  My mother thought it would look better short and curly.  This was a constant source of tension between us—but when we got angry, we didn’t talk about it.  We stopped speaking.  Sometimes for days.

Cross-country ski report - January 17

Jan 17, 2019
Randy Smith of the Vasa Ski Club in Traverse City.
Dan Wanschura

Last week we had very good Nordic ski conditions; waxing was easy and skating was fast. Here are a few highlights of the slip-sliding and ski-gliding possibilities this weekend.


Dave Mertz reaches for a spoonful of chili during The Downtown Chili Cook-Off at the Park Place Hotel.
Dan Wanschura

Last Saturday, nearly 1,600 hungry people stopped by the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City. It was the 28th annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off and this year visitors tasted 20 different varieties from local restaurants. 

Essay: Cleanliness

Jan 11, 2019

My mother was fond of saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” as she pointed me toward my bedroom.  It was years before I discovered this wasn’t one of the Ten Commandments, wasn’t even in the Bible. 

A new documentary remembers Interlochen's glacial history to the present.
Chris Hintz

When the lumber industry moved into northern Michigan’s forests, settlements popped up everywhere. But when the trees were gone, the lumber camps moved on to new areas and the communities left behind would often fade away.

A new documentary tells the story of why the village of Interlochen was different.

 


Essay: Circle of Light

Jan 4, 2019

I am walking in my neighborhood on a winter day and see a mother pulling a small child on a sled. As they cross the street, the sled bounces down a curb and suddenly I feel the jolt and it is my mittened hands gripping the wooden frame.

Essay: Chronic Illness

Dec 28, 2018

Sometimes when our family was on a trip, my father would start driving wildly and too fast.  We begged him to stop but he was ornery, rebellious.  My brother and I were terrified, my mother furious.  But Dad wasn’t drunk; he was having an insulin reaction—and needed something to eat. 

Essay: Tell Me

Dec 21, 2018

My mother loved Christmas. The decorating began early and covered every available surface:  holly on the banister, stockings on the mantel, candles on the tables. My father used to joke that the electric bill went down because we lit the house with candles.


Ludington has installed a new synthetic ice rink at the James Street Plaza.
Dan Wanschura

The city of Ludington recently installed a new synthetic ice rink downtown, right in the middle of James Street Plaza.


Nearly 100 people gather to hear the Benzie Central Chamber Choir perform at Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville on Saturday.
Dan Wanschura

A quarter mile into the woods at Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, you’ll come across an outdoor amphitheater surrounded by tall trees. Around dusk on Saturday, the Benzie Central Chamber Choir filled the woods with Christmas songs.


Essay: Cat Person

Dec 14, 2018

Early on a Saturday morning I was pushing my cart around a grocery store, trying not to cry. Trying not to notice the aisle of pet food where just two weeks before I had bought a bag of cat chow, not knowing my cat would get sick three days later and die soon after. I still imagined her at home in the window waiting for my return.


Bill Church, theatre director at Interlochen Art Academy, performs a section of 'A Christmas Carol' at Interlochen Public Radio.
Dan Wanschura

The Traverse Symphony Orchestra performs its “Home for the Holidays” concert this weekend.

Bill Church, theatre director at Interlochen Arts Academy, will give a dramatic reading of a section from “A Christmas Carol.” 

National Writers Series: An evening with Diana Gabaldon

Dec 9, 2018
Nancy Castaldo

Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling “Outlander” series of novels begins by telling the story of a young nurse during World War 2. She travels back in time to 18th century Scotland. Diana has published eight “Outlander” books, and she says her ninth one, called Go Tell the Bees that I Have Gone, should be released in 2019. The books have been developed into a popular TV show on Starz. Diana talks this hour with Deb Leonard, a member of the board of directors for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and a bookseller at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor.

National Writers Series: An evening with Benjamin Percy

Dec 9, 2018
National Writers Series

Benjamin Percy’s writing could be classified as genre fiction, but with a twist. His book Red Moon is about werewolves, but it’s also a commentary on the war on terror. And his newest novel, The Dark Net, is a techno-thriller that imagines the sordid corners of the Internet as full of actual demons. Benjamin talks this hour with his friend and fellow writer, Jeremy Chamberlin. Their conversation was recorded at the Traverse City Opera House in September 2013. Percy started the discussion talking about his appetite for books as a child. 

 

National Writers Series: An evening with John U. Bacon

Dec 8, 2018
Halle Meyers

John U. Bacon is a journalist, commentator and educator, and he’s written books on sports and business. His latest book tells the tale of a historical event that isn’t as well-known as it probably should be: the great Halifax Explosion. In 1917, a French ship carrying volatile explosives was hit by another ship in the harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The resulting fire caused the ship to explode, which resulted in a disaster killing and injuring thousands.  John U.

National Writers Series: An evening with Richard Clarke

Dec 7, 2018
Halle Meyers

Over his long career in public service, Richard Clarke has been an adviser to presidents Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes. His 2004 memoir Against All Enemies was critical of multiple administrations for their lax approach toward counter-terrorism before and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and of the Bush administration’s decision to wage war in Iraq. Richard has also written four fictional thrillers.

Essay: Better Than

Dec 7, 2018

No one used the term “sex education” when I was growing up; in fact, no one used the word “sex.” Whatever information we gathered about this mystery was from glimpses and whispers, from eavesdropping on adults and gossiping with peers.


Jeffrey Cobb leads the 40th Annual Messiah Sing at Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City on Sunday.
Dan Wanschura

For the past 40 years, people have been gathering at Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City to sing Handel’s Messiah. Last Sunday, about 600 people pushed through the doors for what’s become a northern Michigan Christmas tradition.


Essay: Being a Dog

Nov 30, 2018

When I was about eight years old, I decided I wanted to be a dog instead of a little girl.  I announced this to my parents and my father said, “Good for you.  That sounds interesting.”


Lee Erck smokes his pipe in the basement of his home just outside Marquette.
Dan Wanschura

Just off U.S. Highway 41 outside of Marquette, there’s an old man who lives alone in a small, one-bedroom house. Most days he's upstairs sitting at his desk or downstairs in his workshop. There he makes some of the best tobacco pipes in the world.

 


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