W. MI musician, orchestra collaborate during pandemic


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — During a time when there is a lot of uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic, a Grand Rapids musician is partnering with a West Michigan orchestra to bring joy to people virtually.

“I have been playing saxophone since I was a teenager and I have two previous studio albums,” said Derek Brown.

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has uprooted many people’s lives, including musicians.

“I’m a full-time musician, so my main income is being on the road,” said Brown.

The saxophone player from Grand Rapids, who tokens his style as “BEATBoX SAX,” didn’t use his time in quarantine lightly, though. He is now releasing a new album and collaborating with the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra.

“It’s been a dream come true for me to create this thing with the band and to kind of go as big and epic as I want to,” said Brown.

“To get an opportunity to actually have done something that was being worked on, as Derek said behind the scenes throughout this pandemic, was something really, really special,” said Jordan VanHemert, artistic director for the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra.

The album was recorded in February and put together throughout the pandemic.

VanHemert says he is glad he can provide his students some normalcy in uncertain times.

“They were able to see an artist of Derek’s caliber playing at that level,” said VanHemert.

Brown hopes he can provide more inspiration in the future.

“Humans just need connection, and so whether that’s virtual or on the phone, chatting, you know, that is an important boost to keep going,” said Brown.

The album will be released virtually on Sept. 10.

More information can be found online.

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