Grand Ledge Takes DeVos Hall by Storm!


Cole Bennett, Editor-in-Chief

  The Grand Ledge Music Program has had quite the year so far. Between many band and choir concerts, a record setting season for the marching band, and a large musical production, lots has been happening down in the basement of Grand Ledge High School. It’s a new year, and that means a new slate of events. Up first was the Michigan Music Conference at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids on January 28th. This concert was a prestigious event, as only eight high school bands in the state were selected to perform. The Grand Ledge High School Wind Symphony was one of the eight, alongside Holland Christian High School Symphonic Band, East Lansing High School Wind Ensemble, Alpena High School Wind Ensemble, Grosse Pointe South High School Wind Ensemble, H.H. Dow High School Symphony Orchestra, Central Montcalm High School Symphonic Band, and Ann Arbor Pioneer High School Symphony Band.

  Since this event was a big deal, the band had been rehearsing their music since August of 2021. The pieces selected were quite technical, but with time in class every day, alongside several extra rehearsals, the band was able to overcome the challenge. Another challenge that the band faced was the sheer amount of music they had to perform.

  “I think the most difficult part is just the length of the concert… We have a 45 minute window which means roughly about 35 minutes of music, which is a lot more than we would put on for [band] festival or for a normal concert.” said Band Director John Szczerowski.

  The pieces selected, in program order, were Humoresque by Kimberly K. Archer, A Solemn Message by Franklin D. Hansen, Dragon Sky by Julie Giroux, The Grand Ledge Tryptich, which is a trilogy of pieces consisting of Splendid Ridges, Seven Islands, and Comet’s Ablaze, all written by Grand Ledge alumni Josh Trentadue, Shadowdances by Kent Boulton, Mr. Szczerowski’s high school band teacher, and finally, Barnum and Tesla’s Tandem Bicycle, the fourth movement of Steampunk Suite by Erika Svanoe. The pieces covered a wide range of musical styles. For instance, A Solemn Message is slow and melodic, Humoresque is energetic and almost cartoonish, and Shadowdances is a thrilling reinvention of traditional jazz.

  “I think finding music that complements each other, but can also be viewed holistically from start to finish, taking the listener on a ride from really fast to slow to stuff that’s intense, that’s exciting, that’s beautiful… It’s interesting. It’s challenging but not too challenging, and it is fun enough for us to work on for y’know, three months, basically.” said Mr. Szczerowski.

  The Grand Ledge Triptych consists of Splendid Ridges, Seven Islands, and Comet’s Ablaze. The pieces were guest conducted by Laura Schramm, Dave Funk, and Tavia Zerman. Josh Trentadue was a student at Grand Ledge High School, and his triptych is inspired by his time at the high school, and his background in percussion music.

  “The whole triptych started as brainstorming with a former student as an up-and-coming composer. Comets Ablaze is my favorite of the three.  I love the way the composer has combined contemporary percussive, aggressive music with segments of the fight song to create something totally new and exciting.” said Beagle Band Director Tavia Zerman.

  Ms. Schramm teaches beginning band at Hayes Intermediate School. She also assisted Mr. Szczerowski during the most recent marching band season. This is her first year in the district.  Mr. Funk has been helping the marching band for three years. He is a retired band director as well. Mrs. Zerman is the Beagle Middle School band director. In the past, she taught most of the students who play in the Wind Symphony.

  It feels absolutely incredible. The connection I make with my students stays forever…once you are one of my babies, you always are in my heart.  To be able to work with kids that I helped start and experience how they have grown as musicians and human beings?  There is nothing else like it in the world.” said Mrs. Zerman.

  The band has performed at MMC in the past, but this will be the first time they have attended since Mr. Szczerowski became band director in 2016.

  “I’ve always wanted to go… It’s cool to get accepted and it’s cool to go. I mean, I don’t envision this will be my first and last, I would imagine I’ll go two or three more times, hopefully.” said Mr. Szczerowski.

  Later this year, the band will also be attending the Band Festival, held in part at Grand Ledge High School, and the Western Michigan Music Conference in Kalamazoo. It has been and will continue to be a rigorous year for the band. The Grand Ledge Music Program has recently won the award for Best Community For Music Education, and it’s easy to see why. The band has a lot on their plate in the coming months and beyond, but it’s nothing they can’t achieve.

  “Honestly it worked out I think. For as rough as the Seniors last year had it, I’m hopeful that the Seniors this year are really grateful for everything we’re getting to do this year.” said Mr. Szczerowski.