University Musicians Bringing Music To National Parks

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Members of the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble will be touring Southwestern parks this spring.

The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble is returning to the national stage with the launch of their Music in Our Parks project, with performances in Arches, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Great Sand Dunes, and Zion national parks.

Two years in planning, the ensemble commissioned composers to create music based on Southwest national parks that would then be performed within the parks by the ensemble.

Armando Bayolo’s Wide Open Spaces delivers a beautiful tribute to the seemingly endless landscapes of the west. David Biedenbender’s Red Vesper asks the ensemble to hike into the backcountry and record the sounds of each park, and then to perform alongside those sounds. Ashley Stanley’s Night Sketches sets the vast night skies of the parks to a haunting and beautiful soundtrack. Dan Rhode’s Fingerpainting, based on the brilliant colors of Southwest rock formations, invites audience members to perform with the ensemble on iPads. Finally, Thad Anderson’s work Within, for tuned metals and electronics, brings the listener inside the sound and the beautiful landscape surrounding them.

In addition, music influenced by the natural environment, composed by Zoe Keating, Marc Mellits, Jad Abumrad, Paul Rudy, Mason Bates, and Bill Ryan, will also be performed.

The ensemble presents this program over ten days and 4,000 miles this spring. Performing at both indoor and outdoor venues, they will perform 13 concerts at Arches, Capitol Reef, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Great Sand Dunes.

For their final stop on tour, they join forces with Stephen Scott’s acclaimed Bowed Piano Ensemble for a unique and unforgettable musical event at Colorado College. All concerts are free and open to the public, and for all ages.

• April 29

Visitor Center, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

1 p.m.-3 p.m. (four 30-minute concerts)

• April 30

Park amphitheather, Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey, Utah

4 p.m.-5 p.m. (two 30-minute concerts)

• May 1

Zion Lodge, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah

3:30 p.m.-5 p.m., (three 30-minute concerts)

• May 2

Shrine of Ages Auditorium, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon, Arizona

3 p.m.--5 p.m. (two 60-minute concerts)

• May 3

Visitor Center, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mosca, Colorado

2 p.m.-4 p.m. (two 60-minute concerts)

• May 4

Packard Hall, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado

7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. (with Bowed Piano Ensemble)

Based in Allendale, Michigan, the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble is an undergraduate classical chamber ensemble dedicated to music of the past 20 years. The group has been profiled in numerous publications including Newsweek, the New York Times, and Billboard Magazine, and featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, and WNYC's Radiolab. They have performed at notable venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall, World Financial Center, and le Poisson Rouge, Detroit’s DIA and Museum of Contemporary Art, Washington D.C.’s The Atlas, and Chicago’s Millennium Park.

The ensemble has released three critically acclaimed recordings named to best release lists by the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Weekly, Time Out Chicago, and many others. Their YouTube videos recently passed one million views, all without the aid of a cat or Lady Gaga tune.