It was a summer like no other for Roger MacNaughton. The local musician was selected from 200 applicants to be an Artist in Residence at Mackinac Island. He was the only musician selected, and the honor gave him two weeks on the island to work on his music, showcase his skills and plan for future projects.
“[Mackinac Island] is a place where you can go and work on your craft and be inspired by your surroundings,” MacNaughton says. “The views are just magnificent.”
Now that he’s home, MacNaughton is working on a CD based on his experiences there. Plus, he is bringing together some talented colleagues for a concert to be held at LowellArts on October 13, 2019.
Resident Artist with the Mackinac State Historic Parks
The Mackinac Island Artist in Residence program is sponsored by Mackinac State Historic Parks, which oversees six historic sites including Fort Mackinac on the island and Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City. Participating artists are selected by a jury that includes representatives of the parks, the Mackinac Island Arts Council and the Mackinac Island Community Foundation.
Two hundred artists applied for a two-week residency on Mackinac Island, but there were spots for only six people. Not only did MacNaughton land one of the coveted spots, but he was the only musician to do so. The other accepted artists were artist Mary Bea McWatters, playwright Melissa Lewis, sculptor Andy Sacksteder, painter Katherine Downie, and designer and educator Mia Cinelli.
MacNaughton learned of the residency from a friend who passed along the application. “I looked at that and thought, gee, that’s right up my alley,” he says. Mackinac State Historic Parks evidently agreed.
During his two week stint on Mackinac Island, which ran from July 29 to August 11, MacNaughton spent mornings and early afternoons composing. Then, he would explore various parts of the island for inspiration for the next day’s work. As part of the residency, he also performed two concerts.
“It was absolutely spectacular,” he says of his experience. “I don’t know how else to say it.”
Bringing the Mackinac Experience Back to Lowell
Now that he’s returned to his home studio, MacNaughton is excited to complete the work he started on the island. Although he does play the piano, he considers himself first and foremost a composer. He hopes to arrange pieces that will capture the essence of the feeling evoked by Mackinac Island. Those compositions will then be released on CD
About 90-95% of MacNaughton’s work is instrumental so it’s likely the CD will reflect that. Also, while the composer says he works in a number of genres, he notes he is most adept at what might be considered easy listening music.
The official release date for the CD is set for next February, but MacNaughton may have it done earlier. What’s more, there will be plenty of other opportunities to sample MacNaughton’s music before then.
Upcoming Projects for MacNaughton and Friends
MacNaughton is no stranger to the Lowell music scene. “LowellArts is my [artistic] home basically,” he remarks. He also taught band and choir at Lowell Middle School for several years and has 21 years of experience as an adjunct professor of music at Aquinas College.
As a composer, MacNaughton often collaborates with other musicians, as he did in last year’s House Concert with MacRaven & Mora. This year, he has arranged for saxophonist Jon Montgomery to join The Roger MacNaughton Trio for a gallery concert to be held on October 13, 2019 at 3pm at LowellArts.
“He is top notch,” MacNaughton says of Montgomery. Joining the musicians will be guest vocalist Tami Hjelm. The music performed with be a mix of jazz, funk, R&B and soul.
Fans of MacNaughton’s music can find him performing occasionally at the Flat River Gallery on Main Street in downtown Lowell. He will also be a part of the LowellArts artisan market in November and December and offer CDs for holiday gift-giving.
To learn more about MacNaughton’s music and upcoming events, you can visit his website, follow him on Facebook or listen to his music on YouTube. Tickets for the concert with Montgomery can be purchased through the LowellArts website.
All photos are courtesy of Roger MacNaughton