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GRSMA Musicians Get Around

by Paul Austin - GRS Horn and Hannah Thomas-Hollands - GRS Cello


The Grand Rapids Symphony has a 40-week season. But what do the musicians do when the GRS is out of season?


Baroque on Beaver Festival

Jenna Anderson (violin), Mark Buchner (bass), Michael Hovnanian (bass), Adam Liebert (violin)

Baroque on Beaver is a joyful series of concerts offered each summer on Beaver Island, Michigan. Concerts include orchestral, choral, solo, and chamber ensemble, featuring professional performers. The performances focus on classical music, but you may hear jazz, popular, Broadway, spirituals, or whatever strikes the musicians’ fancy. “B-on-B” celebrated its 15th season in 2016, which ran from July 29th through August 7th. "B-on-B" is the signature event of the Beaver Island Cultural Arts Association.


Cabrillo Festival

Alexander Miller (oboe), Mary Jane Miller (viola), Bob Ward (trombone)

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, even at a seasoned 54 years old itself, is all about the new—the here and now of contemporary works for orchestra. During the first two weeks of August each year, audiences are joined by both preeminent and emerging composers, an orchestra of dedicated professional musicians led by famed conductor Marin Alsop, and renowned guest artists from across the globe to give voice to works which are rarely more than a year or two old, and sometimes still wet on the page. The opportunity for composers to work with Maestra Alsop and musicians skilled and enthusiastic about bringing these new works to life, in the beautiful coastal, college-town of Santa Cruz, California, makes this an artistic paradise.  Ale Miller was not only a performer but a featured composer this past summer; the orchestra performed Scherzo Crypto, which will also appear on a GRS concert this season!

Ale with Marin Alsop in front of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra

Ale with the other featured composers on a panel

Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck

Paul Austin (horn), Barb Corbato (viola), Haijin Choi (violin), Hyun Ji Choi (cello), Alicia Eppinga (cello), Chris Martin (violin), Joel Schekman (clarinet), Eric Tanner (violin), Leslie Van Becker (viola)

The Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck was conceived by a small group with a big vision. Charmed by the physical beauty of Saugatuck, Michigan, its many art galleries, shops and restaurants and its bustling summer activity they developed the concept of a summer festival devoted to classical music. The founders – the late Elaine Richey, a faculty member at North Carolina School of the Arts; Henning Christiansen, a renowned violin maker now based in Holland, Michigan; and Charles Parrott, a local businessman – launched the first season in 1988.  The festival continues to delight audiences and to attract outstanding musicians. Our guest artists have performed in concert halls and festivals literally around the world. Yet each of them treasures the opportunity to be a part of this festival that offers “big time” music in a “small town” setting.


Faulkner Chamber Music Festival

Will Preece (cello)

2016 marked the 10th season of the Faulkner Chamber Music Festival.  More than ninety students have studied and performed more than 100 pieces of music, under the direction of fourteen faculty members. FCMF has hosted five guest ensembles, and an assortment of wonderful guest artists. Their performances have reached audiences at two universities in Arkansas, plus churches and other public venues. Their youngest student was eight years old, and recently they have incorporated college students as well. They are also creating new partnerships, with other dynamic members of our community, including the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock.

The participants and faculty of the 2016 Faulkner Chamber Festival (and one future participant!)


Grant Park Music Festival

Melissa Chung Hamlen (violin) and Dan Karas (timpani)

The Grant Park Orchestra was formed in 1944 when the Chicago Park District assembled a single resident orchestra under the direction of Principal Conductor Nikolai Malko (who also was GRS Music Director from 1942 to 1947) to perform at the Grant Park Music Festival (which began in 1935 and featured a series of visiting orchestras). In 2000, Carlos Kalmar was named the Festival’s Principal Conductor. Today, the Grant Park Orchestra draws its musicians from different orchestras and musical institutions throughout the United States. Each summer, all of the orchestra members gather in Millennium Park for a ten-week long season consisting of intensive rehearsals and performances.


The Peninsula Music Festival

Rick Britsch (horn) and Erich Peterson (horn)

Thursday August 6, 1953 marked the first concert of the Peninsula Music Festival. In 1951, the Festival was just an idea.  Thor Johnson, founder and conductor of the Festival, had a dream of organizing a festival built around a chamber orchestra, performing the rich repertory for small orchestra which was seldom heard.  In 1985, Victor Yampolsky was appointed as Music Director and Conductor. Under Maestro Yampolsky, the festival has continued to grow and develop; the orchestra has grown from a chamber orchestra to a full symphony of 64 members. Concerts once being held in the Gibraltar gymnasium are now held in the state of the art Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.


Santa Fe Opera

Charley Lea (trumpet)

Every July and August since 1957, opera lovers have been drawn to the magnificent northern New Mexico mountains to enjoy productions by one of America's premier summer opera festivals. Here, the Santa Fe Opera's dramatic adobe theater blends harmoniously with the landscape. It is this fusion of nature and art that leaves such an enduring impression on all who come. More than half the audience of 85,000 comes from outside New Mexico, representing every state in the union as well as 25 to 30 foreign countries.  The Santa Fe Opera has taken its place among the world's leading opera festivals.


Southern IL Music Festival

Josh Schlachter (violin)

The Southern Illinois Music Festival presents three-dozen professional performances of classical music and jazz in two dozen venues throughout Southern Illinois each June. The Festival has been nationally recognized in Symphony magazine, the premiere publication for American orchestras; by the Chicago Tribune Travel section as one of 24 top summer activities (musical and otherwise) in an eight-state region; and by AAA Midwest magazine as a Midwest Travel Treasure.  This past summer of 2016, Josh performed the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 with the orchestra as a featured soloist!


Sunflower Music Festival

Eric Tanner (violin)

The Sunflower Music Festival of Topeka, Kansas presents an annual series of orchestra concerts, chamber music evenings, educational projects and other artistic events of the highest caliber.  The festival strives to attract outstanding chamber musicians to Topeka and create musical enjoyment for all.  Organized in Spring of 1987, concerts are sponsored by individuals as well as leading area businesses, and they are offered to the public free of charge. Participating musicians come from many of the nation’s most-recognized musical organizations.


Buzzards Bay Musicfest

Eric Tanner (violin)

Staged at Tabor Academy’s Fireman Center in Marion, Massachusetts, Buzzards Bay Musicfest opens and closes with orchestral concerts, with two chamber music concerts and a jazz performance held in-between.   The festival's gifted musicians have presented hundreds of works in a variety of styles and ensembles, ranging from chamber music duos and trios to full orchestra.  Each year brings new works from a variety of composers such as Mozart, Hummel, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Haydn, and Beethoven, among others.  By design, all Buzzards Bay Musicfest concerts are free. It was the mission of the Musicfest’s founding members to provide an extraordinary opportunity for cultural enrichment to the public, without cost.


Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival

Hannah Thomas-Hollands (cello)

Hailed as one of the Top 10 "Can't Miss" Classical Musical Festivals in the US by NPR, Bravo! Vail is the only Festival in North America to host four world-renowned orchestras in a single season.  In 2016, internationally acclaimed soloists join the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields featured in programs of the great classics, plus jazz and pops. Stellar chamber music artists, including members of resident orchestras, come together with musicians from our Young Professionals-in-Residence and Piano Fellows programs in an eclectic chamber music series.   Hannah spent ten days here as an extra musician with the Dallas Symphony for the third summer in a row.

Outside of festivals, however, our musicians did other things too!


Jeremy Crosmer (cello) worked with doctoral candidate Madeline Huberth of Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford. She had Jeremy hooked up to an electroencephalogram (EEG) which reads brainwaves at 67 different points.  They were in a lab called the NeuroMusic Lab at Stanford, and Madeline is doing a study for her dissertation involving how people process musical phrases.

Steve Brook (violin) entertained audience members at the annual UP concert, Summers End, in Detour Village.  Steve performed his own compositions for violin and viola including his amazing "Wizard of Oz” arrangement.  Steve acts as the various roles while playing the wonderful music of the movie in a most virtuosic style.  All the donations went towards the building fund which has been making renovations of the Wytiaz Performing Arts Center for many years.

Both Paul Austin (horn) and Barb Corbato (viola) attended the annual ICSOM conference in Washington, DC at the end of August.  Barb is the official ICSOM delegate of GRSMA, and Paul is a Member at Large of the Governing Board.

Barb and Paul in front of the Watergate hotel (though they did not follow Nixon's lead and snoop around!).


We have some great stories and memories from our off-season, but we're also happy to be back!

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