In the mood for music? Student musicians present collage concert

73rd annual concert goes on in virtual format

Grand Rapids Community College The talents of GRCC musical students will flow harmoniously again this year, continuing a long-standing tradition — just in virtual form. 

‘Musical Moods,’ the Music Department’s annual collage concert, brings together the talents of GRCC’s 250 student musicians as a way to showcase the program to the community.

New Take on Long Tradition
The GRCC Music Department presents ‘Musical Moods,’ continuing a 73-year tradition but in virtual format. The performance debuts at 7 p.m. Friday, March 26. While there is no cost for tickets, a contribution of any amount is encouraged.

“We attempt to present a cross section of all our different ensembles and we also feature student soloists and small ensembles,” said Kevin Dobreff, GRCC Music Department program director.

The  concert flows from one performance to the next. “We try to do it seamlessly, without any breaks,” Dobreff said. “You go from one thing to another by using staging and lighting.”

‘Musical Moods’ was started 73 years ago by Albert P. Smith, founder of the music department, at then Grand Rapids Junior College. (The GRCC music building was renamed as the Albert P. Smith Music Center in 2016.) The performance debuts at 7 p.m. Friday, March 26. While there is no cost for tickets, a contribution of any amount is encouraged. 

“Our faculty here in the Music Department have really risen so highly to the challenge of working and creating art in spite of the restrictions that are placed upon us by COVID-19. It is just so inspiring, to me, to watch these people work with our students and to see how much creativity has come out of this situation,” Dobreff said. “It is awe-inspiring. We have some very fine faculty and our students are amazing.”

He added, “If Smitty were still alive, I think he would be very proud.”

Smith was a graduate of University of Michigan, which performed a similar concert, Dobreff said. “He brought that concert over to the junior college and we’ve been doing it ever since.”

Generating Interest in High School Students

The concert is a recruiting tool for future students and is normally performed in high school auditoriums in Kent County. Last year’s, (in early February, before the shutdown due to the pandemic) was at East Grand Rapids High School. This year, GRCC is in communication with high school directors to get students to tune in.

The concert will include submissions by the wind, jazz, saxophone, guitar and vocal jazz ensembles; the orchestra and various choirs; plus student soloists and small ensembles. Soloists are selected by audition. 

The GRCC Media Services Department has compiled the performance, which will be archived for people to view anytime on the website.

Noah DeSmit, video production coordinator, edits the performances together, helping students shine when they can’t perform live. 

“It certainly bums me out that these students haven’t gotten to have the proper experience they should be having,” he said. “Anything we can do to make it not so terrible definitely feels great.”

The title of the concert, ‘Musical Moods,’ is apropos. “Students and faculty alike have learned to cherish the small amounts of time we’ve had face to face. When you can make music together, it’s such a joyous experience for us,” Dobreff said,

Music has a powerful impact on people, he noted: “People who make music together cannot be enemies. Our students and faculty have become very aware of how important music making is in this time.”

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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