The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble is returning to the national stage with the launch of its Music in Our Parks project. Two years in planning, the ensemble commissioned composers to create music inspired by national parks in the southwest, where the ensemble will then perform the pieces, April 29-May 4.

Armando Bayolo’s Wide Open Spaces delivers a beautiful tribute to the seemingly endless landscapes of the West.
David Biedenbender’s Red Vesper asks the ensemble to hike into the backcountry and record the sounds of each park, and then to perform alongside those sounds.
Ashley Stanley’s Night Sketches sets the vast night skies of the parks to a haunting and beautiful soundtrack.
Dan Rhode’s Fingerpainting, based on the brilliant colors of southwest rock formations, invites audience members to perform with the ensemble on iPads.
Thad Anderson’s work Within, for tuned metals and electronics, brings the listener inside the sound and the beautiful landscape surrounding them. In addition, music influenced by the natural environment, composed by Zoe Keating, Marc Mellits, Jad Abumrad, Paul Rudy, Mason Bates, and Bill Ryan, will also be performed.

The ensemble will present this program over 10 days and across 4,000 miles, performing 13 concerts at both indoor and outdoor venues at five southwest national parks — Arches National Park, Capital Reef National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Great Sand Dunes National Park. For their final stop on tour, they join forces with Stephen Scott’s acclaimed Bowed Piano Ensemble for a unique and unforgettable musical event at Colorado College. All concerts are free and open to the public, and suitable for all ages.

The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble is an undergraduate classical chamber ensemble dedicated to music of the past 20 years. The group has been profiled in numerous publications including Newsweek, New York Times, and Billboard Magazine, and featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, and WNYC’s Radiolab. They have performed at notable venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall, World Financial Center, le Poisson Rouge, Detroit’s DIA and Museum of Contemporary Art, Washington D.C.’s The Atlas, and Chicago’s Millennium Park. The ensemble has released three critically acclaimed recordings named to best release lists by the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Weekly, Time Out Chicago, and many others. Their YouTube videos recently passed 1 million views. Learn more at