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American music, new film of West Michigan manufacturing combine for unusual evening at the symphony

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

To say that the West Shore Symphony Orchestra plans to put an unusual twist on the story of West Michigan manufacturing is an understatement.

Next March, the WSSO will combine contemporary film, photography, music by American composers and a live orchestra in an innovative multimedia performance celebrating the region’s manufacturing prowess.

“We’re adapting the program American Made: The Art of Manufacturing, a program that highlights manufacturing in America and in Springfield, Ohio,” says Carla Hill, WSSO spokesperson. “It started with the Springfield Symphony and was very successful. I heard about this and thought this is something West Michigan needs to celebrate its manufacturing heritage.”

Seattle-based The Now Device, creators of the Springfield project, sent a film crew to West Michigan last week to film the 10 manufacturers and three schools sponsoring the $100,000 program. Those filmed include L-3 Combat Propulsion Systems, Muskegon; Alcoa Howmet, Whitehall; Padnos Iron & Metal Co., Grand Rapids; Johnston Boiler, Ferrysburg; Muskegon Community College and Muskegon Career Tech Center.

The upcoming performances feature the WSSO performing works by Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, Mark O’Connor and other American composers live, a unique background to the film, photography, and live footage of the orchestra which will be projected on three overhead screens. Live narrative will highlight the history of manufacturing in the region, and underscore what the audience is seeing and hearing.

“I look at this as a catalyst to look at and speak about manufacturing, its history and its future,” Hill says. “There is a lot of manufacturing going on and it’s changing. This is a great way for manufacturing communities to celebrate their work, where manufacturing has been, and where it’s going.”

Performances are 8 p.m., March 27 and 28 at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts.

Source: Carla Hill, West Shore Symphony Orchestra; Mary Ann Sabo, Sabo Public Relations

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

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