“ESME makes music of all genres engaging to audiences of every age and predilection through creative mashups and arrangements.” – Revue West Michigan Magazine
ESME is a classically-trained, acoustic fusion string group based in Grand Rapids, MI that writes and performs their own mashups and arrangements blending classical repertoire and instruments with pop, rock, jazz, folk, americana, bluegrass, spiritual, film, hip-hop and more. Their mission is bringing together audiences of different ages, backgrounds, demographics and parts of the community through the shared experience of ESME’s uniquely accessible, live music programs. The artistic/creative team of ESME include musicians and artists from world renowned performing arts organizations including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Grand Rapids Ballet. ESME artists share a collective passion for bringing world class, innovative programming to West Michigan’s arts and education community. ESME’s educational outreach projects include school enrichment programs teaching students how to apply their exposure to popular music to their study of classical music. Combining player interaction as well as improvisation with the familiarity of pop music, they engage students towards finding new and creative ways of exploring their classical instruments and growing their school music programs. ESME makes regular appearances at West Michigan schools throughout the year performing workshops and clinic concerts with student orchestras using ESME written orchestral arrangements. Past ESME clinics have included East Grand Rapids High School, Forest Hills Eastern High School, Grandville High School, Grand Rapids Christian High School, Zeeland Public School and Troy High School orchestras. ESME has conducted residencies at Aquinas College, The Hillsdale String Festival and created local string seminars in Grand Rapids with the nationally renowned, young musicians training program Project 440.
ESME performs at concert and social venues, art galleries, movie theaters and popular bar/restaurants in Grand Rapids. After being seen performing at a local Grand Rapids bar the band was invited to perform on Fox17’s morning news segment. Hailed by Revue West Michigan magazine as a “String duo for the age of musical omnivores,” ESME’s debut CD album, which includes their original cover/mash-up arrangements of music ranging from Bach, Beethoven and Ravel to Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift and Led Zeppelin, is the first ever classical instrumental album to have been chosen by their recording engineer at River City Studios Ltd for a Grammy submission.
ESME continues to expand the scope of their artistic outreach vision within the Grand Rapids community creating original and cross-collaborative programming including "Swan Song," an independently developed, live music and dance production created by ESME and dancers of the Grand Rapids Ballet company and the ESME String Camp, a summer chamber music camp that offers middle, high school and college string players the opportunity to participate in private lessons, chamber coachings, interactive workshops and side by side performances with ESME artists. The ESME String Camp program combines world class artistic performance pedagogy with holistic, innovative teaching approaches and a unique accessibility specifically geared towards younger generations of music students. Camp programs offer mind-broadening applications that extricate students from common preconceptions of limitations in classical music making and empower them with a sense of relevancy and accessibility in their approach to classical music, embracing their most creative faculties and applying them as growing, consummate modern artists.
ESME is a frequent collaborator with the Grand Rapids Ballet, Michigan’s only professional dance company, performing for many of their live music and dance programs. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic ESME created several virtual performances with the ballet dedicated to front line healthcare workers and the Grand Rapids community.
ESME also created two virtual online learning programs for music students during the COVID-19 pandemic: The ESME Virtual String Camp and the ECCO program. Created in just under a month, the ESME Virtual String Camp program enabled students from as far as New Jersey, Philadelphia and Minnesota to work virtually alongside local students of West Michigan. The camp would eventually become the only program in the region to provide a fully enriching chamber music camp experience in the summer of 2020 for students who had lost their learning opportunities during the course of the pandemic. In the fall of 2020 ESME created a school-year, virtual performance training program called ECCO (ESME Chamber Course Online) working with over 300 students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts as well as from across the globe including Seattle, West Indies and China. Through participating in the ECCO program students were taught to create and put together their own virtual performances in both chamber groups and orchestras while staying socially distanced inside their own homes, enabling them to successfully complete their school virtual performance projects in String, Jazz, Wind, and Full Orchestras.
Violin: Gene Hahn
Cello: Jeremy Crosmer