ESME

“ESME makes music of all genres engaging to audiences of every age and predilection through creative mashups and arrangements.” – Revue West Michigan Magazine

ESME is an acoustic fusion string band founded and based in Grand Rapids, MI, pursuing a mission that fosters community engagement in the arts. ESME writes and performs their own mashups and arrangements that blend classical repertoire and instruments with pop, rock, jazz, folk, americana, bluegrass, spiritual, film, hip-hop and more. The result is uniquely accessible music that brings together audiences of different ages, backgrounds, and demographics through shared musical experiences. ESME’s live music programs include local performances, school-based clinics, and in person and virtual summer camps, all of which highlight their mission for bringing arts to the communities they serve.

The artistic/creative team of ESME began as a duo but now includes talented musicians and artists from performing arts organizations around the world. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Grand Rapids Ballet contribute artistic team members who work together with a collective passion for bringing uniquely world class, innovative programming to West Michigan’s arts and education community. ESME’s educational projects include High School and Middle School enrichment programs designed to help students understand how their exposure to popular music can enhance their study of classical music. Combining player interaction as well as improvisation with the familiarity of pop music, ESME’s approach encourages students to find new, creative ways of exploring classical instruments. This both contributes to the students’ development as artists and to the growth and success of existing school music programs. ESME makes regular appearances at West Michigan high schools throughout the year, conducting workshops and performing clinic concerts with student orchestras using orchestral arrangements ESME has designed for these purposes. ESME has held clinic concerts with orchestras at East Grand Rapids High School, Forest Hills Eastern High School, Grandville High School, Grand Rapids Christian High School, Mona Shores Public Schools, Zeeland Public Schools, South Christian Hish School and Troy High School. ESME has conducted residencies at Aquinas College, The Hillsdale Summer String Festival, and the nationally renowned, Philadelphia-based young musicians training program Project 440, collaborating with and writing string arrangements for musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

ESME performs at concert and social venues, art galleries, movie theaters, parks, and popular bar/restaurants in Grand Rapids. After performing at a local Grand Rapids bar, the band was invited to perform on Fox17’s morning news segment. The magazine Revue: West Michigan hailed ESME as a “String duo for the age of musical omnivores” and praised their dedication to their summer camp when they created a virtual component during the pandemic. ESME’s debut CD album, which includes their original cover/mash-up arrangements of music ranging from Bach, Beethoven and Ravel to Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Led Zeppelin, is the first ever classical instrumental album that their recording engineer at River City Studios Ltd chose for a Grammy submission.

While still based in the Grand Rapids community, ESME continues to expand the scope of their vision to create local collaborative world class artistic offerings unprecedented in West Michigan. In recent years ESME has collaborated regularly with the Grand Rapids Ballet, Michigan’s only professional dance company. ESME also created “Swan Song”, a wholly original and independently conceived live music and dance program set to original choreography by the dancers and choreographers from the Grand Rapids Ballet. In 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic ESME created several virtual performances with the Ballet as gifts to front line healthcare workers and to the Grand Rapids community. In August 2021 ESME performed live at Studio Park in Grand Rapids with the Ballet at the Ballet’s first live public performance since the start of the pandemic.

The ESME clinics and ESME String Camp are exciting live performance and educational programs designed to engage students in their study and exploration of classical instruments while utilizing their exposure to modern music. These programs allow middle, high school and college string players to participate in private lessons, chamber groups, and interactive workshops, culminating in side-by-side performances with ESME. Using original ESME arrangements that mash up iconic classical, pop and film music repertoire and focusing on fundamentals drawn from different music styles, the ESME clinics and summer camp open students up to new possibilities for shaping and defining their tools for artistic growth. Our programs combine world class artistic performance pedagogy with holistic, innovative teaching approaches and a unique accessibility specifically geared towards younger generations of music students. ESME camp programs offer creative and mind-broadening applications that extricate students from the common preconceptions of limitations in classical music making. Through concerts, workshops, and seminars on building both interactive performance and community engagement programs, our mission is to empower students with a sense of relevancy and accessibility in their approach to and application of classical music; to embrace their most creative faculties and learn to apply them throughout their journey as growing, consummate modern artists.

The ESME Virtual String Camp is a virtual summer chamber music program originally designed for students who lost their learning opportunities due to COVID-19. The program is designed for music students of any level and taught by a faculty that has included musicians and artists of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Grand Valley State University, and the Grand Rapids Ballet. Created by the ESME faculty in under 2 months in response to COVID-19 public gathering restrictions the camp saw students from as far as Philadelphia, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Minnesota participating virtually alongside students of West Michigan in an incredible learning experience together. As all other Michigan summer music camps completely closed down in 2020 the ESME Virtual String Camp established itself as the only local program of its kind in the entire West Michigan region to offer a fully enriching virtual music camp opportunity with world class

instruction to students that summer. This summer’s camp incorporated programs to address relevant challenges for music students in the wake of the past COVID-19 year including college and career preparedness, music entrepreneurship and a holistic, healthy approach to body awareness and physical maintenance designed specifically for instrumentalists.

During the fall of 2020 ESME created a school year virtual performance/recording training program called ECCO (ESME Chamber Course Online) working with over 300 students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and from across the globe including Seattle, West Indies, and China. Through participating in the ECCO program the students were taught to create and put together their own virtual performances in both chamber groups and orchestras while staying socially distanced inside their own homes, enabling them to successfully complete their school virtual performing projects in Jazz, Wind, String and Full Orchestras.

(P) 646-522-6114 (Email) esmelivemusic@gmail.com

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