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St. Cecilia sends buskers to ArtPrize

St. Cecilia Music Center is sending out buskers who have entered ArtPrize as performers to show connections between the performing and visual arts.
St. Cecilia Music Center

St. Cecilia Music Center /Avery Johnson

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For More Information:

To find more information about events at St. Cecilia click here

To find visual and musical ArtPrize contestants, click here

For a busking schedule including locations, times, and performer names, click here.

Lou Baron and the New Lovers on Blue Bridge

Lou Baron and the New Lovers on Blue Bridge /Avery Johnson

St. Cecilia Music Center is making its presence known at ArtPrize this year. During ArtPrize, the organization will be acting as a music hub, but the music is not just staying within the walls. From September 23 to October 4, the center is sending out buskers to perform on the streets of Grand Rapids.

These events, mostly taking place between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. will take place on the Blue Bridge, the Gillett Bridge, Women’s City Club, Monument Square and in St. Cecilia. On the weekends, performances start as early as noon.

These performances are more than just entertainment, but submissions. The performers have entered their music as Time Based pieces in ArtPrize, and are competing alongside visual artists. This event is not new, but has evolved over the years.

“The first three years we did a big three day festival,” says St. Cecilia Executive Director Cathy Holbrook. “But it limited the amount of time the audience was going to see them, and they could only play once.” To adapt to the problem that faced the musicians, St. Cecilia created the busking events, which allows more artists to perform and get more exposure.

“We chose [our venues] in terms of trying to find high traffic areas,” says Holbrook, “It felt like it gave them more exposure.”

One of the groups that benefitted from this exposure is Lou Baron and the New Lovers. The band, described by one member as “dad rock,” is a local rock and roll band with some folk elements. They have received more exposure as a result of the busking events.

“We wanted this experience. Look at this day! Is it not beautiful today?” said mandolin and banjo player Steve Kelso when we found him busking on September 26. “And look at this huge number of people to expose our music to. Isn’t that what art is? Having the courage to step out on a limb and show it off: that’s why I respect all of these artists. It takes a lot of guts.”

Holbrook too sees music as a form of art that fits into the visual aspects of ArtPrize.

“It goes together,” she says, “If you want to call it an art festival, music enhances the experience of those who are participating… It makes for a more festive atmosphere.”

To see art in musical form that has been organized by St. Cecilia, they will be taking place every night between September 23 and October 4 at locations throughout the downtown area.

“Music is about performance,” says lead vocalist of Lou Baron and the New Lovers Brett Thomas. “Art is visual; it’s oratory; it’s audio; it’s everything. It’s whatever moves you.”

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