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Notes of Interest about GRSMA Musicians

What's new with GRSMA Musicians? Read all about a wedding and a warm welcome, a question and a reunion, and even some puzzling behavior by our members.

-- Wedding bells for Grace Kim and Andrew Laven!

Last summer, GRSMA musicians Grace Kim (violin) and Andrew Laven (cello) were married. We love the fact that they met after becoming musicians with the GRS! Congratulations, Grace and Andrew, and best wishes for a harmonious marriage.

(Photo Credit: Ruth VandenBos-Plaisier)

-- Welcome to our newest members: Clara Schubilske (violin) and Andrew Fritz (percussion)


Clara Schubilske grew up in Minneapolis and studied with Blair Milton at Northwestern University and Simon James at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Clara relays that she is so excited to join all the wonderful musicians in the Grand Rapids Symphony, who have been so kind and welcoming, and that it has been inspiring to learn from their expertise.

(Photo Credit: Matthew Washburn)

Andrew Fritz is originally from Grand Rapids and is excited to be part of his hometown orchestra. As a former student of Bill Vits and a frequent extra musician with the GRS, he has also held positions with the Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, and Lansing Symphonies.  

(Photo Credit: Leigh Ann Cobb)

-- Question. Why does Dan Karas keep smelling the timpani? 

Occasionally we get questions from audience members. Recently someone asked why GRSMA timpanist Dan Karas keeps smelling his instrument during concerts. Actually, Dan is leaning in closely to the timpani while he tunes them. It might look as if he is smelling them, but he is listening while tapping to ensure that the pitch is correct. Dan is also Principal Timpanist of the Grant Park Orchestra, performing in the summer at Chicago's Millennium Park. Let us know if you have any other questions about GRSMA musicians, and be sure to catch Dan in action both in Grand Rapids and Chicago!

Dan Karas, tuning the timpani before a GRS concert. (Photo Credit: Paul Austin)

-- Reunion: Paul Austin and a young reader reconnect 12 years after our popular video.

In GRSMA's 2011 video, GRSMA musician Paul Austin (horn) is shown reading to two young children, Lawrence and Latavia, from the United Way's Schools of Hope after school program. And in our 2021 article to mark the video's 10th anniversary, Paul wondered whatever happened to Lawrence and Latavia. ( Who would even dream that Paul's and Lawrence's paths would cross again, in fact, sharing the stage in DeVos Hall? Turns out that Lawrence joined his school band a few years later, playing the horn, and ended up studying privately with Paul at Aquinas College, where the two of them eventually realized their identities from the GRSMA video. Lawrence is now a member of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and performed "Les Preludes" by Franz Liszt in a side-by-side concert with the GRS in October 2023. It really is a small world, after all!

Paul Austin, reading with siblings Latavia and Lawrence, in GRSMA's 2011 video. (Photo Credit: Martin Hogan)

Paul Austin and Lawrence Young in 2023, after the GRS/GRYS side-by-side concert. (Photo Credit: Erich Peterson)

Puzzling: Our cellists bond over "Spelling Bee" and more!

Musicians need to stay mentally focused, and what better way to do so than playing puzzles from "The New York Times." Our cello section tackles puzzles on a daily basis and proudly achieves the elusive "genius" ranking as a team on "Spelling Bee," plus have a go at Wordle, Letter Boxed, and more. 

GRSMA cellists backstage at DeVos Hall, working on puzzles as a team. Left to right, seated: Jinn Shin and Alicia Eppinga, standing: Andrew Laven, Tom Sullivan, Andrew Plaisier, and Will Preece. (Photo Credit: Paul Austin)

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