The Block

West Michigan Symphony wind players present fascinating and varied music

Muskegon, Michigan, October 8, 2018 – The oldest known musical instruments are bone flutes made 43,000 years ago. Today, with instruments running the gamut of those that are plucked, scraped, or struck, wind instruments still retain many of the same characteristics as their ancestors. But the level of skill and musicality has evolved greatly, as will be aptly demonstrated by members of the West Michigan Symphony woodwind section—clarinetist Jonathan Holden, flutist Marissa Olin, and bassoonist Marat Rakhmatullaev—in a concert taking place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 3 at The Block, 360 W. Western Avenue in Muskegon.

The concert will feature the trio, along with pianist Zhihua Tang, in such works as the famous Bachianas Brasileiras No. 6 by Heitor Villa-Lobos; Barn Dances by the modern American composer Libby Larsen; and Fluteball by Venezuelan composer Ricardo Lorenz.  Also on the program will be Konzertstücke No. 2 by Felix Mendelssohn; Tarantelle by Camille Saint-Saëns; and El Toro nga Hau: The Three Winds by Michael Burns.

“At the Block, our slogan is for the musically curious,” said Executive Director Andy Buelow. “One of the ways we fulfill that is by exploring the sonic variety of the different instruments and sections drawn from the symphony. We call these concerts ‘WMS Unplugged.’ The styles, techniques, timbres and moods wind instruments can evoke in the hand of master musicians is truly fascinating.”

Opening the program, Libby Larsen’s Barn Dances is a set of four abstract pieces for flute, clarinet and piano. “Each piece draws its title from the name of a particular step used in cowboy dances,” Larsen explains. “My idea was to take a flight of fancy in each movement and to create the musical equivalent of a character drawing.” A native of Minnesota, Larsen’s style arises from her own unique philosophy on music. Her influences range from Chuck Berry to Gene Autry to Witold Lutosławski, and her music arises from the sounds she hears everyday around her in the world.

Also on the program will be Fluteball: “a soccer-driven melodrama” for flute and clarinet by Ricardo Lorenz, associate professor of composition at MSU. According to Holden, “It is fun to watch and hear, as it describes a lively football match between the two players.” Lorenz’s compositions have received praise for their fiery orchestrations, harmonic sophistication, and rhythmic vitality.

The Holden-Olin Duo began in 2014 with programs that promoted both new and established chamber works and has since performed at numerous conferences and more than 20 universities across the United States, including the University of North Texas, Michigan State University, the University of Oklahoma, and UNCG. The duo’s collective advocacy for new music has yielded multiple premieres, and their collaboration now moves forward with a series of its own commissions, including works by Ricardo Lorenz.

In addition to his work with WMS, British born clarinetist Jonathan Holden is Assistant Professor of Clarinet at Florida State University and a sought-after performer. Marissa Olin teaches at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Spring Arbor University, Kellogg Community College, and the MSU Community Music School. Bassoonist Marat Rakhmatullaev has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and the orchestras of Fort Warne, Alabama, Elgin, and South Bend, among others. Zhihua Tang is an assistant professor in collaborative piano at the Michigan State University College of Music. Since 2011, she has performed frequently with the DSO including its 2013 Carnegie Hall performance under Leonard Slatkin.

Single tickets are priced at $25 for regular seats, $35 for table seating. Students with ID will be admitted for $10. To order, call 231.726.3231 or visit

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