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Arts & More: BeethovenFest and Signature Gallery

By: Lorraine Caron & Cara Lieurance
Kalamazoo, MI
December 22, 2011

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Four years ago, conductor Barry Ross invited pianist Lori Sims and a group of professional and amateur musician friends of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra to give an all-Beethoven holiday concert to benefit the junior symphony. A blizzard raged as the orchestra played the Fifth Symphony and the Emperor Concerto to a packed house. Mr. Ross had created a surprise hit.

WMUK's Cara Lieurance spoke to Barry Ross for a preview about this year’s BeethovenFest:

(Music in) CARA: This sublime music is from Beethoven's only violin concerto, and like the symphonies and other works, it carries a nobility of spirit and a strong sense of individualism. Dr. Barry Ross thinks there's something about his music that brings people together.

When he organized a Kalamazoo BeethovenFest four years ago, Dr. Ross assumed the first concert would be the last. But pianist Silvia Roederer agreed to be soloist the next year, and then Gilmore Young Artist Naomi Kudo stepped forward for the 3rd.

Barry Ross says the BeethovenFest orchestra brings together musicians from near and far, including a special guest this year, whose identity is being kept a secret.

The mystery guest is a former Junior Symphony musician who now plays internationally with a world-famous group. BeethovenFest is December 29 at Calvary Bible Church on Drake Road in Kalamazoo. It starts at 7:30 p.m.  All proceeds benefit the KJSO scholarship program.

Signature Gallery

For over 30 years the Signature Artist Cooperative has opened a seasonal gallery at various locations in the Kalamazoo area during the month of December. Some 36 artists are participating this year in the gallery which is located in the Westwood Plaza on West Main near Drake Road in Kalamazoo.  Jewelry artist David Smallcombe is one of the founding members of Signature, and is acting as manager for the gallery this year.  We started a tour of the space by looking at his newest work.

The Signature Gallery is open through December 27, and has items made by local artists that can fit any tastes and any budget, from fabric pieces and wearable art, to furniture, pottery, glass, and wood, as well as paintings and metal work.

Artist Heidi Fahrenbacher has her porcelain collection on display.  Some of her objects look like small structures. When asked where she gets ideas for her art, she admitted her ideas often come from common, everyday places, settings and buildings.

The Signature Artists Cooperative is active all year, but the gallery is open and staffed by the artists only in December. It’s at 4502 West Main Street in Kalamazoo and will be open through December 27.

Other Events

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s “Holiday Hands-On” program runs December 26 through December 30 from 1-4 p.m. each day. This year’s theme is “Who Done It?” Children who participate will become detectives unraveling the mysteries of missing museum artifacts. The museum will also be open from noon to 4 p.m. on December 31 for an early New Year’s Eve ball drop for children.

Stringed-instrument players are invited to enter a contest for a chance to perform in the 2012 Fretboard Festival, March 23-24 at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Submissions are due by February 1, 2012 and should include a demo tape, CD, or web link, and a brief biography with photo and contact information. The top entries will compete on March 2.

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