ABC Orchestra

ABC Orchestra

ABC Orchestra Performs with Mark Wood!

On March 3rd, 2010 the ABC Orchestra performed a rock concert with famed violinist Mark Wood.  Mark Wood has performed with artists like Celine Dion, Lenny Kravitz, as well as his run in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Aside from performing, Mark has also created a line of solid-body electric instruments that have revolutionized the string community.  Wood displayed these instruments, as well as his own arrangements to several rock tunes, like Enter Sandman by Metallica, Purple Haze by Jimmy Hendrix, and even a rock version of Aaron Copland's Hoedown. 


The ABC (Anything But Classical) Orchestra had its  Second-Annual Summer Retreat at East Kentwood High School on August 24th and 25th.

Students participate in full rehearsals; sectional rehearsals; style workshops in Jazz, Fiddling, and Rock; and some great recreation time.  Staff for this year included Amy Marr, an orchestra teacher from Tecumseh Public Schools and a national clinician on fiddling in schools, on Violin and Fiddling; Claire Douthat, an orchestra teacher in Ypsilanti and the former artistic director of Saline Fiddlers Restrung, on Viola and Vocals; Jamie Fiste, a cello professor at CMU as well as the founder of the rock-cello ensemble, Cello Mafia, on Cello and Rock; Brian Barber, a classical-bass performance graduate from the University of Michgan and a member of grunge-rock and jazz ensembles, with the Rhythm Section.

With this fantastic staff, students learned just over an hour's worth of music in their setlist for the upcoming year.  It was not all work, however, as the group enjoyed fun recreation activities like swimming, water relay races, Rock Band, and even a Magic Show by Zelda and the Great Hudsini.

Started in 2007 at Pinewood Middle School with only a handful of students by music director Eric Hudson, the Anything But Classical (ABC) Orchestra broke new ground with middle-school students learning to play all of the alternative styles of string music, ranging from fiddle to jazz to rock. Now beginning its third year, the main component of the program has moved to EKHS as a zero-hour class, with after-school clubs meeting at all three middle schools.  This auditioned-group consists of violins, violas, cellos, upright and electric bass, drums, piano, and electric guitar and serves to fill the void of alternative styles music in the string orchestra program, as well as a Point of Pride for Kentwood Schools.  The ABC Orchestra has performed in several Kentwood Schools functions, such as the Pinewood Talent Show and Pinewood Honors Assembly, as well as various concerts within the community, including at Oakcrest Manor and Ascension Lutheran Church. In October 2008, the ABC Orchestra was featured on Fox 17 Morning News, and was later featured in the Grand Rapids Press. The group went on tour in April 2009 to Tecumseh, MI.

ABC Orchestra looks forward to a great year that already has performances with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Mark Wood from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Central Michigan University Symphony Orchestra in the works.


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Booking Information

To book the ABC Orchestra for a performance, please contact Anna Townsend at 616-455-1200 ext. 32244.