Taking to the stage

GVL/Michael Dykstra
Dutcher Snedeker, Arprize

GVL/Michael Dykstra Dutcher Snedeker, Arprize

Shelby Pendowski

It is that time of year again, when Grand Rapids becomes a citywide gallery attracting thousands of people. ArtPrize 2014 began last week and already many have flocked to see the array of paintings, drawings, sculptures and variety of other mediums. However, many do not know that this international art competition also includes the performing arts.

“I really like that portion of (ArtPrize). That it can be about live performing artists, rather than just really nice, fixed art mediums,” said Dutcher Snedeker, a senior at Grand Valley State University and a 2013 ArtPrize winner. “People see ArtPrize for the art which is awesome, but it is also cool to have this unique experience.”

Last year Brad Fritcher + Trois, which is comprised of Snedeker, Fritcher on trumpet, Ryan Wallace on upright bass and Christian Van Duinen on drums, won the competition with their jazz track “Smooth Silk.”

The opportunity to enter the competition again this year was an easy decision for Snedeker, who entered as a solo act in the jazz category.

“I really had enjoyed the experience last year,” Snedeker said. “It is just a great way to connect with members of the West Michigan community, to see other musicians…and it is a great way to meet people.”

Although he entered as a solo act, members of Brad Fritcher + Trois will accompany him throughout the competition. With the prize money the quartet won last year, they took to the studio to record their new album, “The Year of the Architects.” “Foolin’” – Snedeker’s entry this year – is off this album. Snedeker, who plays piano, wrote the track last summer during a long road trip. Once the album was recorded, he decided to enter it into ArtPrize.

As this is his second year being involved, Snedeker is using lessons learned last year to advance further in the competition, such as the use of social media, tracking votes and getting the word out about his concerts.

Although he and his fellow musicians are performing for a competition, Snedeker tries in each performance to concentrate on just having a good time.

“When I am having to do a solo or even when I am not having to do a solo, I like to be able to be engaged with the other people I am playing with,” Snedeker said. “So they know we are having fun making music rather than having the pressure of ‘if we perform bad, we might not win ArtPrize.’”

That pressure is also relieved by the preparation that they have put into the performance. Since the song is from their album, which was released earlier this year, they have had ample time to practice and perform it. However, they will also share a variety of music.

“People ask me ‘what kind of style?’ (we play),” Snedeker said. “I can’t just say jazz because we might do ‘Heartshaped Box’ by Nirvana just in a way we like to present it or we like to do like a pop song that everyone knows but we change it to keep our kind of feeling.”

Winners for the entire competition will be announced Oct. 10. There are over 120 musicians entered in various categories this year. While he would like to win again, Snedeker said it is about the experience, and even after he graduates from GVSU this year he would like to come back to compete yearly.

“I would still like to do this competition because it is a great way to highlight the local talent,” Snedeker said. “It is a great event that everyone looks forward to in the fall. I would always like to be a part of it, if I can.”

Snedeker will be performing throughout the entire festival. All ArtPrize music events are free admission. For a full list of Snedeker’s performance,s visit reverbnation.com/dutchersnedeker.