Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) has a proud tradition of bringing high caliber shows to the Tecumseh community. However, we could not do it without the support of our business sponsors, foundations, patrons, individual donors, the City of Tecumseh, and the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation.
This year, Tecumseh Center for the Arts was blessed to receive two grant awards from the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation. Without their support this season we would not have had the opportunity to host two very talented groups: River Raisin Ragtime Revue and The Fitzgeralds.
River Raisin Ragtime Revue
The Veterans Day Concert has been an annual tradition at Tecumseh Center for the Arts for many years. The TCA is proud to host the event as a way to recognize and salute our local veterans and encourage a sense of community with a free concert.
Upon revisiting the concert in 2015, the TCA gained much support and gratitude from the community and local veterans and we strive to include the free Veterans Day concert each year in our lineup. We strongly believe that patriotic music, guest speakers, unifying the community, and celebrating veterans are requirements for our mission moving forward. By providing music from US Army bands, community/volunteer bands, and touring groups such as the River Raisin Ragtime Revue, the Veterans Day Concert greatly benefits the community. We look forward to thanking our veterans each year through a memorable performance as they have served our nation and provided us, as Americans, with a wealth of freedoms.
Thanks to the support of the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation, we were able to welcome the River Raisin Ragtime Revue (R4) to the TCA stage in November 2018. R4 is a professional theater orchestra from Tecumseh, Michigan, with the mission of restoring, educating, and entertaining attendees with America’s original popular style of music: ragtime. R4 has performed at high caliber venues such as The Henry Ford Museum, Detroit Institute of Art, and Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater. Furthermore, R4 has 4 outstanding CD recordings titled The Red Black Book: Standard High Class Rags, Ragtime Detroit! Raggin’ at Greenfield Village (collaboration with Greenfield Village), and Animal Fair: Ragtime Music for Children and the Youth At Heart. Recordings of these CDs have been reviewed locally, nationally, and internationally and aired on radio stations around the world.
Each year, Tecumseh Center for the Arts hosts a National Touring Season where we bring in shows from across the state of Michigan, throughout the United States and even around the World. This year was no different as we unveiled a five show touring season featuring May Erlewine, Lawn and Disorder, The Cat's Pajamas, The Fitzgeralds and The Britins.
This season, Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation awarded us with the monies to bring the Canadian fiddle and step dancing champions, The Fitzgeralds, to the TCA stage on March 23. The group consists of fiddling and step dancing siblings – Tom, Kerry & Julie Fitzgerald. Hailing from just outside one of Canada’s renowned fiddling regions, they have come a long way from their small-town roots. Featuring 3-time Canadian Grandmaster Fiddle Champions and Ontario Open Step Dance Champions, this unique act features high-energy fiddling and mind-blowing step dancing. It is the rare combination of exceptional musicianship, audience interaction, an evident love of performing, and a genuine family connection that resonates with audiences of all ages and sets this group apart.
The Fitzgeralds were raised in a musical household and toured internationally with their relatives in the band “Everything Fitz”. Growing up on the outskirts of the Ottawa Valley, they were immersed in the rich tradition of Canadian Old Time fiddling and step dancing that evolved with the arrival of Irish, Scottish and French immigrants. Over time, they have developed their art form to include various styles of fiddle music including Celtic, jazz, bluegrass, French-Canadian, and pop. They have also explored other dance forms including tap and Irish. This trio continue to push boundaries by fusing traditional and modern styles of fiddle and dance to create their own unique sound and style.
Despite their young age, these musicians have some notable musical experiences under their belts. Highlights include both group and solo performances with: Nathan Carter, Leahy, Natalie MacMaster, Cherish the Ladies, Tommy Hunter, Bowfire, Sharon Shannon, Liz Carroll, and We Banjo 3. They’ve also performed at World-Fest, Silver Dollar City, and in Branson MO. As members of The StepCrew, they have had the opportunity to perform with Carlos Nunez, Solas, and Eileen Ivers. They were guest performers on the prestigious Nathan Carter TV Christmas Special in 2017. A video of their high-energy dance performance has gone viral, with over 3 million views! Their show is a hit at festivals including Milwaukee Irish Fest (US), Dayton Irish Fest (US), Cleveland Irish Fest (US), Iowa Irish Fest (US) Shrewsbury Folk Fest (UK), Mariposa Folk Fest (CA), and the Stan Rogers Folk Fest (CA), among others. The Fitzgeralds are some of the most talented, energetic, animated, and genuine performers you will come across.
To learn more about The Fitzgeralds or to purchase tickets to their show, visit our website.
For roughly the last 35 years of her life, Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson was a steady participant, friend and supporter of the Arts in Tecumseh. Although born in Willis, Michigan, Elizabeth spent part of her childhood in Tecumseh before her parents Charles S. Ruthruff and Lulu Pulver Ruthruff moved to Jackson in 1908. There, Elizabeth had her first violin lesson at 13. She graduated from high school in 1923 and spent a year each at Albion College and the Toledo Conservatory of Music. She had a lifelong love for music. While her career was not in music, her heart always was. Her career was spent working with Dr. Henry H. Kessler, founder of the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey. After she retired in 1968, she moved back to Tecumseh and shared a family home with her sister Dorothy. In retirement, Elizabeth finally had time to pursue her love of music full time both through her own participation and in her support of musical events and music education activities.
Elizabeth particularly believed in furthering the music education for local youth and taught violin lessons until well into her eighties. She was instrumental in the founding of the Tecumseh Pops Orchestra and the building of the Civic Auditorium; she was on the board of directors of both organizations until her death. Always looking to the future, in 1997 (at age 92), Elizabeth established the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting Music and the Performing Arts. Since her death in 2001, the Foundation has continued to carry out her wishes. It established the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation Scholarship for Excellence in Music and/or Performing Arts in 2002. This program targets graduates from Lenawee County high schools interested in pursuing a post-secondary degree in Music or Performing Arts. In 2003, the Foundation initiated the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Camp Scholarship program to provide tuition support for Lenawee County children wishing to attend Music or Performing Arts summer camps.
One of Elizabeth’s brightest dreams was to see a string program established in the Tecumseh Public School system. After many years of hard work, in 2003, the Foundation and the Tecumseh Public Schools started the new program in the schools. Many other regional organizations have also benefited from Elizabeth’s generosity through the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation. Through her foresight and her enduring gift to the community, she has helped fulfill the dreams of many in Lenawee County.
The Elizabeth Wilson Foundation funds only projects that involve music and the performing arts. You can learn more about the foundation at www.elizabethwilsonfoundation.org.