GV student accepted to honorable music festival

By Erin Grogan | 3/29/15 8:43pm

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GVL/Spencer Miller Wade Selkirk


Only four Grand Valley State University students have ever been accepted to the prestigious Bang on a Can music festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) in North Adams, Mass. The honor, however, comes with a big price tag.

Wade Selkirk, a Holland native and GVSU student, auditioned for the festival with a mixture of percussion instruments and received his acceptance letter in March. In order to attend the festival, Selkirk began the GoFundMe account “Help Send Wade to Bang on a Can” to raise $2,900 for travel, room and board.

“Hopefully I’ll meet a bunch of musicians and make a lot of connections,” Selkirk said. “Some of the best musicians will be teaching us, and you can even play with them.”

The three-week festival provides attendees with the opportunity to hear, learn from and play with some of the most significant musicians within the contemporary music scene.

“I really like collaborating and getting along with other musicians,” Selkirk said. “I like creating something new and putting something together that you would not expect.”

Selkirk is a percussion performance major at GVSU and has been playing percussion for the past 15 years. Since then, he has played with jazz group Super Sounds as well as a funk group named Tessa Perez and the Hats.

While at GVSU, Selkirk has performed with the GVSU New Music Ensemble under the direction of music and dance professor Bill Ryan.

“Wade is a very talented performer, highly dedicated to his craft and a very hard worker,” Ryan said. “He gets along with everyone.”

Students from all over the world are accepted to Bang on a Can, and the application process is very competitive.

“Most of the students are graduate students or recently graduated from graduate programs,” Ryan said. “As an undergraduate student, Wade is in some elite company.”

Ryan inspired Selkirk to apply for the festival, and he was also inspired by guest musicians at GVSU such as composer David Lang. Lang will be a faculty member at the festival this year.

Selkirk said Ryan has been one of his most influential teachers and is the one who introduced him to the possibility of applying to the festival.

The young musician plans to continue his music career following his time at GVSU.

“I would like to continue with contemporary chamber music and would like to teach privately,” Selkirk said.

Bang on a Can runs from July 13 to Aug. 2. Selkirk and the others in attendance will live in accommodations provided by Mass MoCA during the entirety of the festival. For more information on the festival, visit www.bangonacan.org.

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