Above: Andrew Dodson, Mary Beth Orr (top row); Nicole VandenBosch, Sam Gowen (bottom row).
A unique event featuring a horn ensemble along with a planetarium show will be held on Thursday at the Abrams Planetarium on Michigan State University’s campus. The ensemble, Corna Forza, is a quartet led by Mary Beth Orr of the Grand Rapids Symphony.
“This was a group born of a desire to perform music composed by women in a group comprised of women,” Orr said. “This evolved further into the realization that what we wanted even more, was to include and explore. We wanted to remove any barrier to experiencing the music as purely and fully as possible.”The project began as a way for the group to hang out together. After realizing their experience of playing music by female composers was extremely limited, they knew they had an issue at hand. Their solution, inspired partly by a music sexuality and gender class at MSU Orr took, was to focus on playing only female-composed music.
“Our hope is that our audience will leave here with a new appreciation of classical and contemporary music as a unifying experience,” Orr stated. “We hope they will embrace the richness and proficiency of the composers we are showcasing, not because they are women, but because it is incredible music that deserves to be performed.”
The focus on female composers wasn’t the only thing new to the group; this is also the first time they’ve incorporated a visual display into their performances. “All of us have discovered something new about how we experience music and what that means,” Orr said. “We are trying to help our audience experience this music more deeply and more closely to how we might experience it as trained musicians.”
The quartet features Mary Beth Orr, Samantha Gowen, Nicole VandenBosch, and Andrew Dodsdon. They will perform five pieces for Dim the Lights and describe the event as “bold light, visual displays and vibrant brass music.”
Orr says that a successful night will include an audience as diverse and non-musical as possible. “This isn't a concert for just musicians or students/faculty at MSU,” Orr said. “Everyone can enjoy this and be moved by it. We want to bring together as many different types of backgrounds and interests as possible and unite them in a really fun and beautiful shared experience.
The event is free to the public. It will take place Thursday, April 13 from 6 to 7pm (doors open at 5:30pm).
Abrams Planetarium is located on MSU’s campus at 755 Science Road, East Lansing.