GVSU music students to perform in national parks
For immediate release
December 8, 2015
Contact: Matthew Makowski, University Communications, Grand Valley State University, (616) 331-2221
ALLENDALE, Mich. — Grand Valley State University’s award-winning New Music Ensemble will travel across the U.S. to perform at some of the country’s most famous parks thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Parks Service.
Through the “Imagine Your Parks” grant, Bill Ryan, New Music Ensemble director, said the group is commissioning eight composers to write original compositions inspired by Yellowstone, Badlands, Grand Teton and Wind Cave national parks. During the summer of 2016, the New Music Ensemble will perform the compositions in the parks through interactive and educational performances.
“From tranquil works evoking the starry nights and majestic anthems celebrating the vistas, to compositions that utilize recorded sounds of park wildlife, this is a music program that will leave a lasting impact on audiences,” Ryan said. “They will experience music that is truly an outgrowth of our national parks.”
The “Imagine Your Parks” grant marks the first time the NEA has provided funding for a Grand Valley project. Fred Antczak, dean of Grand Valley’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said this grant will provide students with invaluable new learning opportunities outside of Michigan.
“We think sharing dynamic new music with park attendees will give our students an exceptional opportunity to engage with communities they might not ordinarily encounter under uniquely inspiring circumstances,” Antczak said. “This grant demonstrates the university’s continued commitment to the arts. That commitment has paid off over the long term with increased enrollment and student success.”
Danny Phipps, Music and Dance Department chair, explained that the New Music Ensemble is at the forefront of a movement by composers to develop new ideas and music applications.
“The pairing of the New Music Ensemble with the beauty and sounds of our national parks is another way to explore the vast creativity that is music performance,” Phipps said. “To have our students and faculty actively engaged in the information of new directions in music is an invaluable hands-on experience that will have an enormously positive impact on the professional lives of these students going forward.”
The New Music Ensemble is an undergraduate ensemble that promotes classical music through commissions, tours, recordings, collaborations, outreach events and workshops. Founded in 2006 by Ryan, the ensemble aims to not only prepare students for careers that include contemporary music, but also help them become exceptional educators, advocates and leaders in the field.
“Imagine Your Parks” is a grant initiative to celebrate the NEA’s 50th anniversary and the centennial of the National Park Service. Both agencies are working together to encourage the creation of, and greater public engagement with, art relating to the work and mission of the national park system.