MTD guest artist features up-and-coming composers in performance


GVL / Omari Seaberry

Omari Seaberry, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University Department of Music, Theatre and Dance hosted Martin Van Klompenberg as a guest artist for the music program. Klompenberg is a professional bassoonist and composer who has played in multiple military bands across the United States and studied composition under award-winning composer Jenni Brandon.

Kompenberg’s performance took place on Feb. 16 at the Sherman van Solkema Recital Hall on GVSU’s Allendale campus. GVSU Bassoonist instructor Victoria Olson recruited and welcomed Klompenberg, having both attended school together in the past. 

As this was Klompenberg’s first time performing for GVSU, he performed all new music highlights including, “Sunflower Sea Star.” This piece was commissioned by Klompenberg himself. Pianist Christina Krause performed alongside the guest artist in concert.

Klompenberg is not the first bassoonist to showcase their talents through the GVSU guest artist program.

“In addition to the upcoming recital, we have had two guest artists give masterclasses to the bassoon students of GVSU,” Olson said. “Eric Stomberg recently gave a wonderful masterclass with the students at the Cook DeWitt Center. Last semester, we had University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory bassoon professor, Leigh Munoz, visit. In her masterclass, she worked with each student in a collaborative, lecture-like setting.” 

The connections between guest artists and the faculty help to give students more professional exposure while learning about their instrument. 

“Imagine if you wanted to become a quarterback for an NFL team, but you had never seen a football game,” Olson said. “In order to grow, you need to be pushed in your concept of what is possible, inspired by those better than you, and moved enough by those experiences to recharge your curiosity and exploration.”

Part of Olson’s job as a faculty member is to provide diversity in methods, sounds, artistic choices and more within the music program. She says the best way to provide this diversity is by inviting guest artists to perform masterclasses or recitals. Olson said it’s a good experience for all musical students, as listening to only one instrument limits their possibilities.

Klompenberg featured women composers, as most of the repertoire of pieces were written by women in his performance. Klompenberg said this makes for a more innovative showing.

“Three of the pieces are by what we would call emerging composers,” Klompenberg said. “Two of them are by composers who are fresh out of school at 22 and 24. Another one is by an established composer in her mid-30s. I wanted to get new music by women who compose today.”

The inclusion of younger composers shows students how attainable learning new forms of music can be. Klompenberg went into detail of the deeper meanings of each piece as he performed to give the audience context and understanding of the music. 

“Whenever I am fortunate to be a guest artist, I like to show students something different, like here is some new stuff and here are people that you can talk to if you want to play that kind of music,” Klompenberg said.