Alumni musicians return for Making Waves concert


GVL \ Meghan Landgren

Mary Racette, Arts Editor

The Making Waves Initiative (MWI) featured a performance of Grand Valley State University alumni musicians as a part of their interdisciplinary approach to spread the theme of water across campus. The Crane Wives performed Thursday, Sept. 19 on GVSU’s Allendale campus during Big Splash Week, MWI’s series of opening week events.

With the Thursday night concert, the MWI team achieved their goal of bringing alumni back to campus by presenting the Crane Wives. Emilee Petersmark and Kate Pillsbury of the Crane Wives are both GVSU alumni. Petersmark graduated in 2009 with a double major in communications and advertising. In 2012, Pillsbury graduated with a double major in writing and Spanish.

During the concert, the Crane Wives talked about their GVSU roots and the significant role the campus played in their songwriting. They said some of their first songs were written at the Arboretum on the Allendale Campus and they would perform at Area 51 in Kirkhof Center.  

Pillsbury and Petersmark represented the Crane Wives at GVSU, however, the band also consists of Dan Rickabus and Ben Zito. The award-winning band has released four albums so far, in addition to several singles released in 2017.

GVL \ Meghan Landgren

The concert was strategically located next to the Zumberg Pond on campus. As the Crane Wives performed, the pond and fountain complemented the night’s water theme. The band’s waterbird name also contributed to the theme of the night, noted MWI co-leader and English professor Kathryn Remlinger. She said some of their music reflects themes of water and the environment.

“Water is our lifesource,” Remlinger said. She said she hopes that following the concert and the other events during Big Splash week, students will “be more aware of how we as individuals and communities can take care of the water that is around us.”

Provost Maria Cimitile implemented the MWI as a two-year program to focus on informing students on the significance of water in everyday life and the importance of protecting it. Remlinger said some of the main goals of MWI are to increase interdisciplinary and visibility of GVSU, create bonds within the GVSU community and integrate alumni back to campus.

“Water is part of our identity at GVSU,” Remlinger said.

In addition to being near Lake Michigan and along the Grand River, GVSU also has the Annis Water Resources Institute, located in Muskegon.

“We have some really big experts in water studies here, so it is part of who we are,” Remlinger said.

MWI’s impact is not centered around just GVSU academics and course curricula, but it is being applied to various aspects of campus life, including art and entertainment.

“(Water) is a theme that we could carry across the campus and connect students, faculty and staff through it,” Remlinger said.