Seventh-grader Joshua Ma drew the bow across his violin for the final note of a mashup of Ravel’s “Bolero” and Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” and declared the experience of playing with all 130-plus members of the middle school orchestra “a little more exhilarating” than typical school performances.
Not only that, but the young musicians were rehearsing with the members of the Eclectic String Music Ensemble for a concert that evening.
“I thought it sounded like a great way to broaden my students’ musical horizons,” said orchestra teacher Sara Good. The collaboration was funded in part by the Grandville Orchestra Parents group.
ESME is a Grand Rapids-based acoustic string duo featuring Gene Hahn on violin and Jeremy Crosmer on cello.
It blends classical music training with popular music to create a live performance experience accessible to students and music lovers of different ages and varied tastes.
Besides Katy Perry, Grandville students also played classical-pop mashups that included Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and the traditional Irish ballad “Danny Boy.”
During the evening concert, Hahn and Crosmer — whose resumes include the Grand Rapids and Detroit symphonies, among others — also performed on their own.
Hahn said the pair have performed at Caledonia and East Grand Rapids public schools, and will visit Troy High School and Grand Rapids Christian High in the coming year.
“This age group is right at that age where they can learn the fundamentals of music, both from classical they hear in school and popular music they listen to everywhere else,” he said.