The Song of Sagwa Zibi

I have notes from composer Paul Kwiecinski about this lovely piece. I had asked him to arrange the work – originally for cello – to be performed by woodwinds.  We’ll be premiering this new arrangement at our first concert, February 8 at 2pm.

In the summer of 2013, while in South Bend for a visit, (I live in Stone Ridge, NY–Hudson River Valley/Catskill Mountain region) I ran into Kathleen [Petitjean] at the Farmer’s Market and she was telling me about Greening the Bend.  I asked how I could help the cause, and we somehow came up with the idea that I would write a piece of music.  Early in 2014 she called it in and asked me how we would go about it.  I sent her a few samples of things that I have done, and the GtB board liked this one that was a cello melody with a piano backing…

In our discussions, Kathleen and I came up with the idea that the piece would be about the river, and for me it became about the voice or song of the river.  Kathleen told me the Potawatomie call the river “Sagwa Zibi” (“Mystery River”, I believe), so: Song of Sagwa Zibi.  I grew up on Lincolnway East, right by the river, and as a boy I remember thinking that “St Joseph River” was not the river’s name; not sure where I got that notion, but to me, it didn’t fit.  When approaching the piece, I spent some time thinking about my relationship with the mis-named river, its rhythm, flow, and character…

For me the timeline of the song represents the river from its gathering of identity at its headwaters in Hillsdale County in Michigan, to the gathering of its power and personality, flowing through the many towns along the way, and finally surrendering its waters to the huge waterscape of Lake Michigan.  At the same time, I feel the river flowing through time, from its inception after the receding glaciers 10,000 or so years ago, through discovery by the Miami, Potawatomie, and other native people, through the first European explorers, and then towns rising up, becoming a workhorse of industry, until today, when it’s pretty much retired as a workhorse, and people like the Greening the Bend folks are working to get it back to health.

The original piece is all virtual instruments except for the piano and the cello.  Paul Duffy contributed the piano performance, and Anita Gendler (with whom I was in orchestra at Riley High School) did the cello performance at a friend’s studio in Los Angeles.

At the “premier” (at the GtB fundraiser in August), Kathleen had arranged for a couple to choreograph and perform a Viennese waltz to the piece.  I came out to South Bend to see it, and found the presentation and the reception by the audience very moving.

Paul Kwiecinski – Managing Partner, Face The Music

Paul is a philosopher and mad scientist that makes his living as a consultant, speaker,
and executive coach. He’s known for energizing and creative work with teams and large
groups. In 1999 Paul co-founded Face The Music, bringing music and songwriting into organizations as an experiential learning tool, and because it’s a helluva lot more fun than death by PowerPoint. Paul also sings, writes music, and plays bass in the FTM band, and is releasing his new album, Striking Distance, in March 2015.

Exciting News

Musicians for MIchiana has received a generous grant of $4000 from 1st Source Foundation to assist with concert production! The check will be presented to MFM at our Downtown South Bend’s next First Friday event, February 6 at 5pm, at The Music Village.  At that time, we will present a little preview for our upcoming concert, featuring Jenni Brandon’s Spider Suite.

We are so grateful to 1st Source, and will be putting this funding to great use, starting right off with our first event on Sunday, February 8.

“New Day, New Music” will feature beautiful new works for woodwinds by Jenni Brandon, Alyssa Morris, John Steinmetz, and Paul Kwiecinski.  These pieces honor things in life that are real, tangible, and beloved – the pleasure of moving our bodies, the beauty of nature as seen through the life cycle of a spider, and South Bend’s own St Joseph River!

This concert will partner with Hello, Gorgeous, and all proceeds from the event will be given to that great organization.

The event will be at 2pm at The Music Village, 108 N. Main St in South Bend.  We cannot wait to see you there!

Thank You!

Thank you, Justin, for coming all the way to South Bend and giving an amazing performance!

Thank you, Mary and Stephen, for the perfect venue!

Thank you, Kellirae and Kate, for managing this process with us, and for all of the work you put in on the back end!

Thank you, Connie, Marjorie, and Libby for your help in preparing the food, programs, and space!

Thank you, Steve, for always being willing to step up to the plate with me!

Thank you, audience, for coming out on a beautiful warm fall day to share this time with us!

October 26 Fundraiser


We have a terrific season of music – new and old – planned and in the planning process.  But this month we are working to raise the money to put on our concerts.  The Music Village, our partner in this venture, is accepting tax-deductible donations on our behalf, right HERE – and of course we have some grant applications out, and we are also doing an event!

This month’s highlight will be an event at Merriman’s Playhouse, 1211 Mishawaka Ave, at 2:00 on Sunday, October 26, featuring Chicago’s beloved cabaret pianist, Justin Hayford, in a concert called “Things Are Looking Up: Unsung Gershwin.”

We are thrilled to have him – Justin is a charming performer, and Gershwin can’t be beat.  I’ll be playing at the event, too.  We are excited to be at Merriman’s – if you haven’t visited their performance venue you will be surprised and delighted at the intimate space and cozy environment. Space there is very limited – please arrive early!

We’ll have wine, and light food – you could volunteer to help us out with that, too, right HERE – and the afternoon should be splendid.  Please come, and enjoy!

Save the Date – October 26, 2014

Hello, Everyone! We are back at work, planning our new season, and there will be lots of new information, new non-profit partners, new dates, and new collaborations to share with you soon soon soon.


In the meantime, though, please let me introduce Justin Hayford!

Head shot Aug 14

Justin has performed in cabaret clubs around the country, reviving lost tunes from the Great American Songbook.  He’s released three CDs on the LML Music label.  He also contributes regularly to the Chicago Reader.

You may remember Justin’s appearance here in South Bend two years ago, on a recital with MFM founder Jennet Ingle.  He’s a friend of this series and has graciously agreed to return and give a full concert at Musicians for Michiana’s Fall Fundraiser event!

October 26, 2014, 2:00PM.  Location TBD.  Watch this space.

“Unsung Gershwin”

George and Ira Gershwin have earned an indelible place in the history of jazz and popular music, writing some of the best-known and best-loved songs in American history.  But the hits only scratch the surface of their extraordinary catalog.  Join Chicago cabaret performer Justin Hayford as he digs deep into the Gershwin archives and takes you on a guided tour of their rarely heard gems.  You’ll learn the stories behind their unlikely partnership, and hear the Gershwin treasures that have been largely – and inexplicably – forgotten.  


This will be an event not to miss.  Many many thanks to Justin for agreeing to appear!

Notes on Steve Ingle’s “Quiet, Please!” for flute, clarinet, bassoon, and sampler:

Quiet, Please was a radio fantasy and horror drama created by Wyllis Cooper and featuring narration by Ernest Chappell. It aired between June 8th, 1947, and June 20th, 1949, and is considered unique in its genre for its creativity and depth, providing the listener a nearly immersive surrealist experience.

This work, by contrast, was directly inspired by the presence of a four-year-old. Distraction is its central theme. With many usable ideas bouncing around inside my head, I sought to create a rather lengthy work, immersive in the same way as the original radio drama. However, a deluge of ideas can be as poisonous to the creative process as no ideas at all. What I had not anticipated was the fact that Ernest Chappell’s deadpan delivery would become my own voice of reason, the voice I heard to quiet my own mind, and what I ended up with was, rather, a brief mockery of the creative process itself. Ideas are, therefore, intentionally underdeveloped and largely unrelated, with only the original motive repeated to provide a fleeting sense of formal cohesion.

For more information on the original radio drama (including information on its current copyright status), I refer you to The episodes are great with headphones on the proverbial dark and stormy night.

The audio samples you will hear on this program come from the episode “Northern Lights.”

 – Steve Ingle

Our Final Concert is coming up

Here’s a link to the Facebook Event.

And here is all the information you need.  Sunday, May 4, at 2pm, at The Music Village, 108 N. Main St, South Bend.

The Colors of Music

Even a small group of woodwinds can create a huge number of colors and textures. We feature these diverse instruments in an exciting event supporting Girls on the Run.  Composers will include Jenni Brandon and South Bend’s own Steve Ingle.

At its heart, Girls on the Run is about inspiring young girls to grow up as strong, empowered individuals, and to believe in themselves. In this interactive concert we will talk about principals of leadership and teamwork, and allow the audience to determine our program order.


As always, there is no set admission fee – you Pay What You Like, and all proceeds go to Girls on the Run Michiana.

We have great woodwind musicians in Martha Councell-Vargas, Jason Kramer, Trevor O’Riordan, and Jennet Ingle.

The concert will be FUN, INTERACTIVE, and SHORT.  There’s nothing not to love.  Please join us!