The collaboration, which began a year ago, was a synergistic effort uniting six Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music students, composer-in-residence and professor of composition Dr. Clint Needham and BW's Community Arts School with Kaboom Collective, a Cleveland-based production hub in-residence at BW headed by artistic director Liza Grossman and brand director Joseph Weagraff that offers musicians ages 15-25 real-world opportunities to hone their creative skills and learn from industry experts.
"Reimagined" student score
Musical and creative fusion was already percolating when representatives for The Accidentals met with Grossman and Weagraff last year to discuss laying tracks for a new album called "Reimagined." The 12-song album celebrates 10 years of the trio's recording library and career as musicians. Each song was reimagined for a full symphonic orchestra and arranged by members of the Kaboom composition team under the leadership of Needham.
BW composition senior Tyler Kowal was among the musicians asked to participate. The Buffalo, New York, native put his scoring and composing talents to use in expanding and orchestrating the songs.
"We were allowed to compose our own melodies and accompaniment but had to remain true to the original song since it was going to be recorded and performed live with the band and the orchestra," said Kowal.
"I grew a lot as a composer," he added. "The biggest opportunity this gave me was an IMDb credit I can add to my resume. This gives me a leg up when competing for graduate studies, teaching positions and commission possibilities.
"Hearing professionally mixed and mastered music that you have written is an experience like no other," he emphasized. "And having your music taken on tour, where hundreds of people will hear it and have your name attached to it, can open doors to opportunities in the future."
From recording to road
Perhaps it was serendipitous that the album was recorded at BW's Kadel Hall in the Boesel Musical Arts Center and the historic Lindsay-Crossman Chapel. The 12-song album, which is a masterful collection of fan favorites, showcases rich melodies and harmonies that seemingly have a philosophical or spiritual vibe that echoes the journeys of life.
In addition to The Accidentals, the album features BW students Renee Danko '22 (cello), Emily Dyko '24 (flute), Andy Jeoung '25 (viola), Zach Kern '25 (trumpet) and Grace Smith '23 (cello) as well as members of the BW Community Arts School and Kaboom Collective orchestras.
The July 29 LP release was quickly followed by a tour that kicked off at Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Four BW students and two Community Arts School students were among the musicians who traded in the comforts of home for road life on a big purple tour bus.
Parma native Danko was among them. The senior, who will graduate in December, performed on the album and toured with the group for two weeks across Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.
"Touring an album involves a rather rigorous schedule. While this tour could be seen by a non-musician as a fun vacation, there are many personal and practical challenges that accompany it. Instruments can break, set lists can change or you can only have 15 minutes to set up a stage full of equipment," she explained.
"One facet of my career is that I would like to be a pit musician for musicals and operas. This experience provided an excellent opportunity for young musicians to learn how to collaborate, compromise and roll with the punches because these are the types of challenges one must learn to overcome when doing a show in real time," noted Danko.
Needham agrees about the learning experience. "The students in the Kaboom orchestra acted as set-up and tech crew members. They helped market and sell merch in addition to being performing members of the orchestra.
"This was a real-world, hands-on experience for these young musicians. They played each show with microphones and headsets. They accompanied a live band. I'm not sure this type of experience exists anywhere else at the high school or collegiate level. They are also performers on a professionally produced and released album — which is also VERY rare at their level," emphasized Needham.
As the Baldwin Wallace-Kaboom Collective partnership continues to grow, Needham believes there is excellent potential for BW students and faculty to have amazing, one-of-a-kind professional experiences that can further their careers.
Grossman and Weagraff echo that sentiment. "Baldwin Wallace has been an amazing partner — we couldn't be more thrilled to be in residence. BW students bring creativity, passion and expertise to the Kaboom studio orchestra and composition team. Their participation in our recent productions and tour elevated the experience of everyone involved.
"Kaboom is a place for curious students to make real art in an incredible atmosphere of collaboration, hard work and positive energy. We are proud of what the students have created so far and have already started on our next projects," they added.
This post originally appeared on BW News & Events on September 19, 2022.
Written by Joyce DeGirolamo, Public Information Coordinator.
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