An assortment of musical groups were represented at the Musical Moods concert held Friday, Feb. 15 at East Grand Rapids High School Performing Arts Center. The concert included instrumental and choral ensembles as well as student soloists.
Before they performed, Grand Rapids Community College students Connor Sanford, 22, of Grand Rapids, and Abby Johnson, 22, of Wayland, both exhibited a confidence in their group’s ability.
“I’m feeling good about the performance,” Sanford said. “And everyone here has worked hard and it’s gonna be a great concert. It always is a good concert.”
This was Johnson’s first performance back with the group, she had taken a semester off from the upper choir and was excited to reinitiate herself into the group.
“I feel fine, I’ve been in choir since fifth grade so being on a stage is kinda normal in a group, so it’s nice. It’s nice to be back,” she said.
Grace Brunink, 18, of Byron Center, is also no stranger to performing on stage. Brunink, a nursing student at GRCC, had been in band and choir for about eight years before beginning college. She spends about 10 to 11-hour days at school, balancing choir and nursing classes.
“Overall they make it kinda easy to balance classes,” Brunink said. “In the nature of community colleges they are very flexible and that’s really nice in that I can choose to have a choir class and attend all the classes that I need to for a seperate major.”
While some students face the challenge of balancing their career goals with their love of music, others have decided to incorporate the two together. Shelby Bowmen, 18, of Mattawan, Michigan, has decided on a career in teaching and hopes to become a choir director at a high school. She told The Collegiate what inspired her to pursue this career.
“Seeing how people act in the music building,” Bowmen said. “Just the energy there, Dr. (Stephen) Barton especially and Emilio (Rodriguez), I saw something there that I wanted for myself. I’ve been singing my whole life, and I never really thought that I would be a music major. But now that I’ve made that decision, I have realized that it is the best decision I’ve ever made because I have met so many amazing people that I know will be in my life forever, and I’ve never experienced that before.”
Bowmen also spoke about what music is to her and her fellow musicians.
“Being a music major is more than just about growing musically, it’s about growing as a person,” Bowmen said. “Because for singers especially, that’s a part of us and it’s who we are and it’s really vulnerable to sing in front of a bunch of people.”
During intermission, audience members expressed their thoughts on the performance. Many in the audience laughed and cried. Some even danced, including a little girl who shimmied her way back to her seat during one of the performances.
“I think it’s amazing to see the young people sing, there are a couple parts that brought me to tears,” said Terra Pancrits, 50, of Wyoming. “It’s lovely to see all the different talents, and I was quite impressed watching the footwork on these drums. I am really enjoying it.”
Ryan Rittersdorf, 21, of Sparta, was transported back to his band days and said he was astounded by the performances, specifically the guitar ensemble.
“It’s overall amazing,” Rittersdorf said. “And the guitar ensemble, just being able to hear what they did was amazing because I never woulda thought to have played a guitar like that…It was really cool.”
Some came to encourage their friends and family. Charlie Dennis, of Grand Rapids, came in support of his brother, who played the saxophone in the second half ot the concert.
“It’s very well organized,” Dennis said. “Seems to be very well put together, sounds absolutely beautiful.”
According to Emilio Rodriguez, 20, of Grand Rapids, the family wasn’t only represented in the audience, but in the music groups as well.
“Everything was such a huge success,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like every choir bonded and we had a nice family moment during our warm-up time and everything just came together as a family and we went out and proved that our vocal program is one of the best vocal programs for being a community college.”
Not only were students participants of the groups, but also leaders. Rodriguez was very excited to have conducted two songs. He said that Stephen Barton, the choral director at GRCC, offers the opportunity to students as music majors are required to learn conducting when they head off to four year colleges.
“It was so great to step in front of my friends and see all the music we’ve played and the time, the blood and the tears we’ve had in rehearsal and to throw it together on stage tonight was amazing,” Rodriguez said. “I was just blessed to have the opportunity to stand in front of both groups and conduct. This is probably the best concert at GRCC that I have ever been a part of.”
While Rodriguez and another student conducted, Barton relinquished his directorial spot and joined the performers.
“I want to be there just in case they need something or something goes on that they maybe are not quite sure how to deal with,” Barton said. “It’s just good to be there for them and make sure that they are in a safe place and feeling good about what they’re doing.”
This particular concert is a molding of multiple groups, each with unique talents. The faculty get together and decide what each group is going to do and then they hold student auditions for solos. Each director works with a different group and oftentimes they are not able to hear the others. Musical Moods offers not only the audience and students to hear the different musical collections, but for the faculty to enjoy as well.
“Frankly, it’s kinda fun for me because it really is kinda the first time I hear some of the other groups other than mine and you get this idea about what’s really going on in the program at large,” said Barton. ”It’s sort (of) a bigger view, makes you step back and say, ‘oh yeah I kinda work at a pretty cool place.’ Students are really energized by this performance. They love doing it. They’re really excited about it. It’s kinda important to remember how energized the students are and how they really, really (want to) do these concerts.”
Alex Kramer, 22, of Wyoming, plays the trumpet in the jazz band and wind ensemble, he shared Barton’s sentiments.
“It’s kinda neat to have an opportunity with a concert like this where I am performing with everyone in the whole school of music,” Kramer said. “Whereas with a university you usually don’t perform at concerts like that.”
For a full calendar of the Musical Departments events, follow this link.