by Christine Golden - GRS Violin
The Grand Rapids Symphony had a unique presence at ArtPrize8 with the presentation of three diverse, short programs at UICA, and it looks like we may have found our niche for the event. Three half-hour shows were performed in rotation so that audience members could listen, look at art during the break, and come back to hear a different program. Almost all of the music was new to the players and was challenging to put together in a short time. When we see expressive markings like “Funky” or “Heavy Metal”, as in a piece called Fuse, we know we are in for an adventure.
The perfect conductor to lead us in this adventure was Jacomo Bairos. You may remember Jacomo from his appearance with the Grand Rapids Symphony last January in DeVos Performance Hall. He has natural rhythmic flair and helped us get our metric modulations in a groove.
The three mini-concerts each featured a piece by Andy Akiho, who appeared in a dual role of guest percussionist and composer. Mr Akiho is a steel pan virtuoso, and his piece Murasaki is a solo vehicle for this unusual instrument. In fact, most of the pieces on these concerts had an instrument that was unusual to a symphony orchestra (for example, accordion or electric bass), but sometimes they were regular instruments being played in an unusual way (such as violins tuned to abnormal notes).
The ArtPrize concerts were challenging and fun for the musicians, and our audiences undoubtedly heard some sounds they never knew could come out of a symphony orchestra!