GV opera and visual arts students collaborate for audiovisual performance

Courtesy / gvsu.edu

Courtesy / gvsu.edu

Arie Nienhuis

Throughout history, art and music have gone through a multitude of changes along with the progression of technological and cultural advancements. Music has shifted far from the classical styles of hundreds of years ago, and art has quickly transitioned into a highly dynamic and electronic landscape. However, with “Masquerade: A Baroque Extravaganza”, a group of music and art students at Grand Valley State University have proven that classic musical styles and highly modern forms of art can combine to form something truly new and beautiful.

“Masquerade” was a production born out of a collaboration between the GVSU Early Music Ensemble and Department of Visual and Media Arts as well as the Junior Company of the Grand Rapids Ballet School. Headed by GVSU Opera Theatre director Dale Schriemer and Julie Goldstein, assistant professor of film video production, the performance combines music from composers such as George Frideric Handel and Henry Purcell with layered 3D projections. The performance took place three times during the weekend of Nov. 9. 

Schriemer is incredibly proud of the event, comparing the experience to the Disney film “Fantasia” and other audiovisual works of art. In particular, he is hopeful that students appreciated the production’s older works of music more in such a modern artistic context.

“(The performance) is an opportunity and an experience to think and work outside of the box,” Schriemer said. “The reason for doing it is that baroque music doesn’t always have a new audience. I have to bring old things and show a new generation how incredible these things are and recontextualize them. (Goldstein) has been very receptive to this.”

The production was notable for the way at which it forms something truly new out of two very different artistic mediums. In a similar method to Disney’s fusion of animation and music in Fantasia, Schriemer sees Masquerade’s fusion of baroque music and 3D design as a presentation truly intriguing artistic expression.

“Out of opposites, we create a new thing,” Shriemer said. “We’ve taken (the ideas of Fantasia) and blown them up times twenty, and moved them forward. What kid hasn’t seen Fantasia? It still has play.”

For a multitude of GVSU students, in and outside of art, Masquerade was surely a highly valuable experience. Music students experienced important works of baroque composition, artists saw forward-thinking applications of 3D projection, and the average viewer was surely inspired by the imaginative nature of the production, overall.  

“The power of imagination is underrated,” Schriemer said. “How to solve problems in business, for example, comes from imagination. It isn’t formulaic…In the context of business, engineering, or medicine, imagination is key.”

GVSU students should remain on the lookout for wonderful performances like this. For those hoping to get involved with similar projects, Schriemer shared some advice.

“Do something that is out of your comfort zone, because you can,” Schriemer said. “It’s harder when you’re in marriages and relationships to take risks. College is about that, it’s about trying things out and doing different things.”