Side-by-Side Orchestra Performance


GVL \ Caleb Worpel

Allison Rafferty, Staff Reporter

On Thursday, Oct. 24 the Grand Valley State University Symphony Orchestra put on their annual collaborative performance with the Grandville High School Symphony Orchestra. The Grand Valley Symphony Side-by-Side concert began at 8 p.m. at Grandville High School. 

The GVSU Symphony Orchestra, conducted by GVSU professor Henry Duitman, performed works by composers Franz Schubert, Bedrich Smetana and Edward German. The GVSU Symphony Orchestra collaborated with the Grandville Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Matthew Bridges, to perform a piece titled “Marche Militaire Francaise” by Camille Saint-Saëns. 

Both schools have been collaborating for this annual concert for the past 11 years, and plan on continuing to do so in the future. Duitman said that the two orchestras first collaborated and continue to do so because it is “an educational venture for both our students and the students in the local high school.”

The Side-by-Side concert was instituted by Duitman. The two conductors had worked together in the past, which prompted Duitman to call Bridges and the two agreed to bring their orchestras together for a joint concert. They have continued to do so ever since. 

In preparation for the concert, Duitman said that on top of the regular GVSU Symphony Orchestra rehearsals, the GVSU faculty string trio traveled to Grandville to coach the high school orchestra. Duitman also said that he went to the high school himself the week prior to the concert to conduct their symphony orchestra. 

On the day of the concert, the two symphony orchestras put the one musical piece they collaborated on together in a rehearsal at Grandville High School. Right before the concert, the two orchestras had dinner together, making for a bonding experience for both orchestras. 

Duitman said that collaboration performances like this one are beneficial to both the university and high school students in “every way.” He said that this specific collaborative concert benefits the students involved educationally, musically and socially. 

He also believes the collaboration to have recruiting benefits for GVSU from the way the university students interact with the high school students.

“I am always so proud of how our students collaborate in a most friendly way with high school students,” Duitman said. 

Duitman said that when it comes to the Side by Side Symphony Orchestra concerts, he most looks forward to “playing wonderful orchestral masterworks in a beautiful concert hall with excited high school and college students.” 

Duitman said his favorite part of putting on this performance is the collaboration aspect.

“Working with Matthew Bridges and his students is a joy, and my students at GVSU are superb,” Duitman said. 

With the enduring success of the concert, along with the ways to which it is beneficial to both the students involved and GVSU, it comes as no surprise that the Side-by-Side Symphony Orchestra concert continues to be put on year after year.