An eclectic mix of musical and dance performances will highlight the NMU International Performing Arts Series. The lineup includes a Finnish-Norwegian instrumental group, a Native American recording artist, a French sextet that melds gypsy and Yiddish music, a band fronted by a member of the African Guitar Summit, an Irish-music duo and a company that presents Mexican folklore through music and dance.

            Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. at one of three venues: Kauman Auditorium at Graveraet Intermediate School, Forest Roberts Theatre or the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center.

            Frigg is a seven-piece ensemble that produces Scandinavian folk fiddling accompanied by fretted instruments and an upright bass. Its style is a mixture of Kuastinen (Finland) and Nord-Trondelag (Norway) traditions flavored with Americana and Irish folk music. A past "Band of the Year" winner at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, Frigg will perform Friday, Oct. 17 in Kaufman.

            Joanne Shenandoah has won a Grammy Award and 11 Native American Music Awards. A Wolf Clan member of the Iroquois Confederacy, she has fulfilled the promise of her Native American name, Tekaliwah-kwa (She Sings). Shenandoah has performed at such high-profile gigs as Carnegie Hall, the White House, the Kennedy Center and Earth Day on the Mall. Her Marquette concert will be held Saturday, Nov. 8, in Kaufman.

            Les Yeux Noirs, French for "The Black Eyes," takes its name from the title of a 1930s Russian gypsy tune. Violinists Eric and Olivier Slabiak founded the group a decade ago. The classically trained Jewish brothers stumbled across the music of the Diaspora and couldn't get enough. They met other musicians and created a band that combines traditional and modern instruments for a unique blend of gypsy and Yiddish music, with a nod to Manouche (French gypsy) jazz. Les Yeux Noirs will perform Tuesday, Jan. 20, in the Great Lakes Rooms.

            Guitarist Adam Solomon was born in Kenya. He established his career playing lead guitar and singing with the country's most popular bands and musicians. Now based in Toronto with his band, Tikisa, Solomon is a 2005 Juno Award Winner and double winner for best release and best new performer at the Toronto African Music Awards. His guitar playing is described as "Renaissance, because it carefully fuses the Mississippi Delta blues style of B.B. King and Muddy Waters while highlighting the African blues style." A concert featuring Solomon and Tikisa will be held on Friday, Feb. 6, in the Great Lakes Rooms.

            The Irish-music duo John Williams and Dean Magraw will perform on Thursday, March 12, at Forest Roberts Theatre as the opening concert for the second annual Upper Peninsula Folklife Festival. Williams was an original member of the band Solas. With five All-Ireland titles to his credit, he is the only American-born competitor to win first place in the senior concertina category. The Chicago-based musician also plays the flute, button accordion, bodhran and piano. Williams will be joined by Dean Magraw, a St. Paul "guitar wizard" whose career as a musician, composer and producer has spanned 30 years.

            The final event in the series will be Ballet Folklorico "Quetzalli" de Veracruz on Wednesday, April 22, in Kaufman. Established in 1985, the company is composed of young people who express the traditions of their people through music, songs, dances and vibrant costumes characteristic of different ethnic groups. Now under the direction of veteran dancer Hugo Betancourt, Quetzalli has become one of the most popular folklorico companies touring out of Mexico. It has performed for audiences throughout the world.

            Season tickets, which give purchasers the value of one free performance, are $75 for NMU faculty and staff, $30 for students and $100 for the general public. Individual ticket prices for the same groups will be $15, $6 and $20, respectively.

            The series is co-sponsored by the Finn Grand Fest Foundation at NMU and the MEEMIC Foundation. Dan Truckey, director of the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at NMU, is the new director of the International Performing Arts Series.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director