Friday, April 24 at 8:00 p.m., you can experience LiveArts at the Van Andel Arena. It's an incredibly collaborative production filled with creative elements that are sure to inspire you, surprise you, touch your heart and keep you thinking long after you leave the arena.

LiveArts logo

The Grand Rapids Symphony, the Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Ballet, Opera Grand Rapids, and Broadway Grand Rapids will all play a role in the evening in addition to over 1000 students from the Grand Rapids area, including the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, a Community Youth Chorus, and the East Kentwood High School and Grandville High School marching bands.

Grand Rapids Symphony rehearsing for LiveArts

Rehearsing for Live Arts, (photo courtesy Grand Rapids Symphony)

"What sets LiveArts apart from other ballet, opera, theatre or symphony performances, other than the level of collaboration between organizations, is that it's an experience thats tied together with storytelling," says Roger Nelson, VP and COO, Grand Rapids Symphony. "It's an interlinked, connected, constantly flowing performance with one piece leading to the next and with subtle storylines underneath."

"Because the narrative of LiveArts is about the dreams of youth being realized, it's essential to the nature of the event that kids participate alongside adults who presumably aspire to a greater level for the future," says Nelson. "The kids enhance the performance and its a tremendous burst of energy to have so many kids involved."

Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra rehearsing for LiveArts

Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Symphony

The students take center stage at the beginning of the second half and then later, you'll be entranced when all of the performers - the kids who are part of the ballet, chorus and symphony programs, the kids from the Community Chorus and bands, and all of the professionals - come together for I Will Rise, a work specially commissioned for LiveArts by the Grand Rapids Symphony and written by Sean Ivory, the Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus. Prepare to feel the emotion of the evening swell as everyone performs the work he created specifically for this event.

Grand Wave sculpture installation for LiveArts

Installing and testing the Grand Wave, (photo courtesy Grand Rapids Symphony)

Another critical element of LiveArts is the Grand Wave, which inspired the LiveArts logo. The Grand Wave is a sculpture that lives above the symphony and ties everything together, says Alain Lores, Creative Director for LoresFX and LiveArts Video Designer. "It's essentially a screen that we can project to, but its not your typical flat screen," explains Lores. "It has dimensions and features. It has several pieces and a wave form."

In terms of scale, the Grand Wave is 60 feet wide, as is the orchestra on its platform. Two additional screens, each 30 feet wide, contribute to 120 total feet of visual content that will be displayed throughout the performance. Most of the time, the smaller screens will project close-ups of the performers, while the Grand Wave will project artistically conceived content coordinated to accompany the music.

As the designers considered creating the sculpture, they thought about how elemental the Grand River is with regard to connecting our community. "We thought about how many times, in the history of Grand Rapids, people have been inspired by the river. That idea was played out in creating the Grand Wave screen," says Nelson, "but the performance also starts with a very high quality video that is, in part, inspired by the Grand River, which plays across all three screens."

All of the content thats being produced on the Grand Wave is completely unique and custom, says Lores. "During I Will Rise, you'll see beautiful hand-drawn sketches and brushstrokes whose imagery continues to evolve. As you go through that journey of sketches and art, you'll see different media projected," says Lores. "We use special effects, animation, 2D, 3D, and a combination of photography and videography to create a huge diversity of mediums."

Workers on lift preparing for LiveArts in Grand Rapids

Behind the scenes: Getting ready for Live Arts (photo courtesy Grand Rapids Symphony)

As you might imagine, a project of this scale also takes an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes teamwork. The logistics and details fall to people who wont take the stage but are critical to the success of the evening.

"We had immense collaboration with Marshall Yoder at Van Andel about how to rig the Grand Wave, how to fly it, and how to get it there," says Brian Bobinski, Executive Producer, LoresFX, whose responsibilities include handling logistics for the event. "This is a huge collaboration, not just for the organizations but with regard to the technical aspects," says Lores. "We've been really fortunate to have such a great team working together to make sure we could get everything done."

Simply pulling off a production with this many performers and so much visual and technical detail is an impressive feat. In addition to the "wow" involved with producing an event of this scale, the show itself will be a powerful testament to the role arts plays in all of our lives. "I think the "wow" factor is going to be at the end of the performance when everybody realized what they just experienced," says Bobinski. "The music, dance, and visualities...the whole picture."

Don't miss the chance to be a part of LiveArts on April 24, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. and experience the beauty and magic of this unique one-night performance. Click here to purchase tickets to LiveArts.