Six events offering a diverse mix of music and dance will highlight Northern Michigan University’s 2009-10 International Performing Arts Series. Featured acts include South Asia’s most popular rock band, a Chinese dance and music group, a master of the African drum, an Afro-Caribbean 11-piece orchestra, a New Zealand dance troupe and a Japanese musician who utilizes the traditional sounds of Tsugaru-Shamisen to play pop and jazz. The following performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on the respective dates:          

Junoon was hailed as “the U2 of Pakistan” by The New York Times. The band produces a diverse mixture of western rock and traditional Punjabi and Urdu folk melodies to create the original sound of Sufi rock. Junoon is inspired by musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. The concert will be held in conjunction with NMU’s Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity (UNITED) conference on Thursday, Oct. 1, at Kaufman Auditorium.

            Beauty and Melody, a Chinese ensemble composed of accomplished young women in music and dance, will perform on Friday, Oct. 23, at Forest Roberts Theatre at NMU. The ensemble plays folk music from ancient dynasties on a variety of instruments: bamboo flutes, wind pipes and stringed instruments such as the ruan and pipa.

            Baye Kouyate uses his Malian heritage to bring out his creative energy. His performances consist of highly complex polyrhythms fusing traditional sounds of Mali with influences such as jazz, reggae and Latin grooves. His concert is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19 in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center.

            Alex Torres y su Orquesta is an 11-piece orchestra led by Alex Torres. The group plays a mix of Salsa, Merengue, Cha-cha, Bomba, Plena and Latin Jazz from an Afro-Caribbean repertoire. The group “accurately reflects a culture’s music and yet targets a mainstream audience, combining education with exciting entertainment,” according to the The Chronicle. They will perform on Thursday, Feb. 4, in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center.

            The Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre of New Zealand was formed in 1983 to provide cultural, recreational and educational employment for the graduates of Takitimu Performing Arts School. The troupe brings to life the ancient legacies and customs of the Maori people. The show features tribal music, dance, hand-crafted traditional costumes, audience participation and humor. Kahurangi Maori will Thursday, March 11 at the Forest Roberts Theatre.

          The final event in the series will be Hiromatzu Agatsuma who has long practiced Tsugaru-Shamisen, an ancient Japanese style of music using a three-string, banjo-like instrument. He infuses the traditional sound of the shamisen with blues, rock, folk, and a little funk. His performance will be held on Saturday, April 17, at Kaufman Auditorium.

            Season tickets, which give purchasers the value of one free performance, are $75 for NMU faculty and staff and seniors, $30 for students and $100 for the general public. Individual ticket prices are $13, $5 and $18, respectively. Tickets purchased at the door will cost $15, $7 and $20. They can be purchased online at www.nmu.edu/tickets, by phone at 227-1032 or in person at the Superior Dome, Forest Roberts Theatre or Vista Theatre.

Beauty and Melody and Hiromatzu Agatsuma are sponsored by the Arts Midwest World Fest series, which provides world music performances to select Midwestern communities. They are funded by Arts Midwest, the National Endowment for the Arts, 3M and Metropolitan Life. Alex Torres y su Orquesta is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director