Ferris-Magazine-Fall-2013 - page 25

FALL 2013
“I don’t think any other program in the country can replicate what
we learn at Ferris. What they had us doing in our first year people in
similar programs aren’t doing until their last year. So the hands-on
experience, which ties into the Grand Rapid Symphony project, is
absolutely huge for your learning curve.”
That sentiment is shared by senior Hannah Crouch, pictured at left,
who worked on a video promoting the symphony’s performance of
Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”
“For a year I went to a different university, which was very theory-
based and not very hands-on. The first day I got here I was able to
run a camera and start editing,” says Crouch. “That hands-on aspect
is the best part of it. The symphony project was a great opportunity
to grow my professional skills. People know by the time we’re in
senior sequence that we have these skills and can make something
professional. I couldn’t have asked for a better education.”
One of the reasons the collaboration between Ferris students and
the GRS has been successful, is that the TDMP program stresses
the need to learn the art of story-telling and there’s much more to
the GRS than its DeVos Performance Hall concerts. The symphony
gives more than 400 performances a year, nearly half of which benefit
students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. The videos the
students produced touched upon such GRS outreach as its Artist in
Residence program and Mosaic Scholars, which is designed to provide
opportunities for talented African-American and Hispanic 12- to
18-year-old student-musicians living in Kent County.
“The Grand Rapids Symphony has so many stories to share about
our organization, onstage and off, and we know the power that video
holds to this end,” says GRS Marketing Assistant Marie Williams,
a 2012 Ferris Music Industry Management graduate. “We love giving
audiences a ‘sneak peek’ with conductor and musician interviews,
rehearsal footage, and compelling images. The videos are great
promotional tools for the symphony, and we think our partnership
offers some great client experience for the Ferris students, too.”
Crouch and Thomma are taking the program’s hands-on approach
and story-telling aesthetic and applying it now in the workplace.
Even before graduation, Crouch worked as a photojournalist at MI
News TV-26 in Cadillac since its inception in 2011 — a position she
continues to hold. Her bio on the station’s site notes that her ultimate
goal is to write and direct her own films. In his first week of working
at Video Concepts, Thomma’s boss helped him set up a freelance
assignment. After the job, the producer for the project told Thomma,
“I have no idea who you are, but you did fantastic —you killed it.”
And isn’t that what any video artist or musician wants to hear, that
they “killed it?” That’s music to their ears — and eyes.
It is not only Ferris students who are collaborating with the Grand
Rapids Symphony. Glen Okonoski worked directly with the
symphony to create a multi-media presentation of “I Never Saw
Another Butterfly” — a composition by Charles Davidson. The title
is drawn from a poem by Pavel Friedman, who was a prisoner at
the Terezin concentration camp during World War II.
This November, the symphony is performing the piece along with
the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus, whose members
travelled to Terezin in what is now the Czech Republic, and
performed there. Video of the visit shot by Okonoski – along with
still images by photographer Terry Johnson — will be incorporated
into a performance as part of the symphony’s concerts on Nov.
22 and 23. A movement of the work on video loop was entered
into the popular ArtPrize. ArtPrize, an international competition in
Grand Rapids, is held Sept. 18 – Oct. 6.
“We had an opportunity to tour the camp, which remains much as
it was during the war,” says Okonoski. “The symphony will perform
the music while the youth chorus sings the piece. During the
performance we will project images of the children’s experience at
Terezin. It should be quite a powerful performance.”
‘I Never Saw Another Butterfly’
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