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Rockland/Pine Mountain Music Festival

‘Rockland’ to hit the stage

July 14, 2011
By STACEY KUKKONEN - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - From historical context to traditional attire, paired with the musical talents of the orchestra and profound voices, there's sure to be something for everyone in "Rockland" the opera.

"Rehearsals have been fabulous, wonderful," said Peter Van Pelt, executive director of the Pine Mountain Music Festival.

This season's music festival will close out with the highly anticipated opera, which is based around local events in history and is connected through Finnish ties. The show will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

After years of planning and production, the opera will come to life for the audience, presenting a historical storyline based around real local people and the 1906 mining strike in Rockland in Ontonagon County.

The orchestra is made up of many members from local musical affiliations, such as the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and the Marquette Symphony, while some musicians hail from downstate orchestras, such as the Ann Arbor, Flint and Saginaw Symphonies, Michigan Opera Theatre and Detroit Symphony Orchestra and even places such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra.

More than 30 people make up the chorus and more than 40 members in the orchestra. Joel Neves, the conductor of the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and members David Olson, Benjamin Holtz, Molly Hughes and Michael Adler are all participating in the orchestra for "Rockland."

Many of the singers have local ties as well and are all familiar to the performing stage, Van Pelt said.

"We're hiring six principal singers this year which we haven't done for a number of years with the economy being what it is," he said.

Just years ago, Van Pelt said it became too expensive to hire professional singers who have dedicated their lives to performing. They instead hired emerging professionals, some well-known.

"For the last three or four years, we've been hiring only the emerging artists who are wonderful but don't have the depth of experience these other professionals do," he said. "Opera singers get better with time and age."

The opera is conducted by Craig Randall Johnson, Jussi Tapola is the stage director/libresttist, Suzanne Young in the costume designer, Helena Kuukka is the lighting designer, Ann Campbell is the chorus master, Eric McEnaney is the rehearsal pianist/vocal coach and Nancy Uffner is the stage manager. The show was composed by Jukka Linkola.

Van Pelt said plenty of quality seating is still available for the show. To get tickets, visit the Rozsa box office or call 487-3200.

A reception will be held after the show in the Rozsa Lobby.



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