Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Matthew Hazelwood
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Matthew Hazelwood

Jack Pine - November 24th, 2008
For the last 15 years Matthew Hazelwood has been conducting youth orchestras at Interlochen Arts Academy. Now, he is taking on a new challenge and will be conducting orchestras in Colombia in South America. Over the next six months he will be a part of a program sponsored by the government of Colombia called Batuta -- the Spanish word for baton.
Batuta’s mission is to give children throughout Colombia the opportunity to play classical music, improve their opportunities in life and strengthen communities with a network of 193 regional orchestras. The program began in 1991 and now includes over 40,000 young musicians.
“Professionally, what’s fascinating is being able to work with music for a cause,” Hazelwood says from his home studio on the Old Mission Peninsula. “Usually the cause is making a living, if you are lucky. This is an opportunity to actually make a difference.”
Hazelwood is already familiar with Colombia. After graduating from the Mannes School of Music in New York, he auditioned and won a position with the National Symphony of Colombia as a percussionist. In Colombia he also directed symphonies, operas, and met his wife Constanza. “I got there and I loved it,” Hazelwood says. “I thought I was going to stay two months and I stayed there nine years.”

ODYSSEY
When Constanza had a chance to pursue a graduate degree in education at Michigan State, the Hazelwoods moved to Michigan. Hazelwood became director of the Michigan State Opera Theatre and the Battle Creek Symphony before beginning his tenure at Interlochen. He also became director of the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra in Petoskey and will continue in that capacity, splitting his time between Colombia and Michigan.
For many in the United States, Colombia is thought of as a dangerous country, rife with drugs. In reality, violence has subsided - homicides are down by almost 50 percent since 2002 - and with 45 million people (second in South America to Brazil) and 32 states, Colombia is more diverse and complex than most North Americans realize.
“It’s not like going to a poor country where they don’t know what they
are doing,” Hazelwood says. “It’s quite the opposite actually, especially in the larger cities. They know exactly what they are doing.”
Many of Colombia’s young orchestras are technically proficient. Hazelwood sees his role as teaching the finer points and nuances of the music or as he describes it, “taking it up another notch.”

PUTTING IT TOGETHER
One of Hazelwood’s responsibilities is organizing and conducting faculty concerts throughout Colombia to give the regional orchestras an idea of how the music should be played. Carefully prepared packets with CDs and scores of music are sent ahead; then it is up to Hazelwood to show up and pull it all together.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Hazelwood continues. “We were in this small city in the southern part of Colombia, down near Ecuador, a couple of weeks ago. The concert was at a lovely old opera house about 100 years old. The kids that came were from a very poor part of the country and they had never been in a theatre like that. I was walking in with them and they just stopped. They had no idea this kind of thing could exist anywhere, let alone in their country, not too far away. There’s a thousand people cheering and when you see that, all of a sudden it’s like ‘Oh! This is a reason to get up in the morning!’”
The trip to Colombia involves getting to Miami and taking another three hour flight to Bogata. It is all in the same time zone, so it is not as wearing as his trips to conduct orchestras in Asia or Europe. He stays with his wife’s family and seldom even packs a suitcase. But he will still be keeping his home base in Traverse City.
“I’ll still be here half the year,” Hazelwood says. “Part of my role is getting the word out about Batuta and to be a bit of a voice for them in the states.”
 
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