Muskegon, Michigan, June 6, 2016 – West Michigan Symphony’s alternative music venue, The Block, kicks off its fourth season, Aug. 25, with jazz flutist Alexander Zonjic.
Zonjic and his jazz musician friends will kick off Muskegon’s 2016 Shoreline Jazz Festival weekend with a Thursday evening concert @The Block. Zonjic is a gifted jazz flutist, known across the country for his cool jazz grooves and exciting shows. He has shared the stage with such greats as Kenny G, Bob James, Matsui and Jeff Lorber. In addition to performing hundreds of concerts a year, he is the creative director for numerous summer music festivals, including the Shoreline Jazz Festival, now in its third year at Muskegon’s Heritage Landing.
Sept. 10 the group that classifies itself as “Chamberfolk,” Harpeth Rising, brings music that blends folk, newgrass, rock and classical into a sound that is organically unique. The three female classically-trained musicians play original music lyrically rooted in the singer/songwriter tradition and wrapped in three-part vocal harmonies reminiscent of both Appalachia and medieval Europe. Hallmarks of their music include expansive three-part harmonies, consummate musicianship and a deft, yet soulful lyrical perspective.
The acapella vocal ensemble Audivi comes to The Block, Oct. 15. A professional vocal octet, Audivi focuses on presenting rarely heard Renaissance masterpieces and premiering new works by modern composers, as well as choral music from all eras. Audivi harkens back to a time when unaccompanied singing was considered the highest form of music in the world. Its members have sung with professional vocal ensembles around the world and have appeared on the television program, America’s Got Talent.
Internationally renowned bassist and Mack Avenue recording artist, Rodney Whitaker and his band present an evening of swinging jazz favorites Oct. 28. Rodney is one of the hardest working and swinging bass players on the scene and has recorded with great musicians such as Roy Hargrove, Pat Methany and Wynton Marsalis. With one of the most undeniably distinctive “bear- sized” bass tones, Rodney Whitaker is considered to be one of the leading bass performers and teachers of the jazz double bass in the United States.
Protea will be performing woodwind chamber music Nov. 12. The woodwind trio is comprised of WMS clarinetist Lisa Raschiatore, Dennis Carter on flute and Mariah Boucher on piano. The varied program will include pieces that blend jazz, Latin, poetry, and contemporary music influences with classical woodwind standards. Their most recent program “Crossing the Equator” features the works of Villa Lobos, Piazzolla, Catherine McMichael, Valerie Colemen, and the poetry of Langston Hughes
Dec. 17 soprano Martha Guth presents a follow-up to the Friday night holiday concert with WMS with an evening of classical song at The Block. Soprano Martha Guth brings consummate musicianship, intelligence and a distinctive tonal palette to a wide range of musical styles.
Violinist Tim Fain presents a concert of classical solo violin Sat. Jan. 14. Also featured is the world premiere of the multimedia experience “Beirut is a House of Many Rooms.” A New Music USA commission by The Block, the original work features music for solo violin composed by Randall Woolf, expressly for Fain. The music will accompany a film about the musical culture in Beirut, Lebanon, created by filmmakers Mary Harron and John C. Walsh.
Feb. 4, WMS violist Csaba Erdélyi and cellist David Peshlakai play a program of Eastern European folk music from Hungary, Transylvania, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovakia and Ukraine. David Peshlakai is Principal Cellist of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and Kalamazoo College Cello Instructor. Erdélyi made musical history when in ‘72, became the only violist ever to win the Carl Flesch Violin Competition. Erdélyi was also solo violist on the soundtrack of Amadeus and has recorded the Bartók concerto with the New Zealand Symphony.
The jazz guitar duo of Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo will play a March 18 concert at The Block. Frank Vignola is one of the most extraordinary guitarists performing before the public today. His stunning virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world’s top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, and guitar legend Les Paul, who named Vignola to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List” for the Wall Street Journal. Vignola’s jaw- dropping technique explains why The New York Times deemed him “one of the brightest stars of the guitar.”
Sat. Feb. 25, Director Bill Ryan and the New Music Ensemble at Grand Valley State University bring ‘music of our time’ to The Block. The group is known for its commissions, tours, recordings, collaborations, outreach events, and workshops.
Whether accompanying herself at the piano, fronting a trio, big band or symphony, jazz vocalist Dee Daniels’ musical career is as varied as her four-octave vocal range is thrilling. She is a unique talent who transcends musical borders. Join Dee at The Block April 29 for jazz favorites, infused with gospel and blues flavoring.
The pop/classic rock cover band Legal Rehab closes the 2016-17 season at The Block with a celebration of summer $10/ticket value concert featuring WMS musician Britta Bujak Portenga along with bandmates Roy Portenga, Scott White and Pete Buchholz.
The musical genres at The Block span everything from Jazz to chamber music. The 144-seat venue, located on the second floor at 360 W. Western Ave. in Muskegon, offers an intimate venue for listening, experiencing and engaging with music. Doors and the bar open at 6:45 before all performances, which start at 7:30. Single tickets are $25-$35, $10 for students with ID. Ticket packages are available, call the ticket office at 231-726-3231 or go to www.TheBlockWestMichigan.org for details.