New Columbia orchestra ensemble brings movement to classical music in debut concert this weekend

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After playing the violin in two moving orchestra performances as a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, Columbia resident Melanie Kuperstein decided to form a moving orchestra ensemble of her own.

Having performed in traditional orchestras like the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Maryland Symphony and the Mid-Atlantic Symphony, Kuperstein, 30, wanted to create an ensemble that brings the orchestral experience to life.


Unlike traditional orchestra performances where musicians play from sheet music and remain seated, moving orchestra requires musicians to memorize the music and play while performing choreographed movement.

Gathering a group of 10 musicians — a few of whom she performed with in college — Kuperstein founded the Movement in Music Ensemble, which will be performing its debut concert at The Chrysalis at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in Columbia on Saturday evening.


First performing the style in college, Kuperstein said she wanted to find a way to continue it as a professional.

“The performance [in college] was amazing,” Kuperstein said. “I remember afterward we were in our final poses and the lights came down and it was completely silent and then the roar of applause, it was just amazing. No one had ever seen anything like it, and I just thought, ‘This is all I want to do for the rest of my life, forever, is to do projects like this.’ ”

A little preview from our rehearsal tonight!

Posted by Movement in Music Ensemble on Tuesday, July 27, 2021

In the orchestra, musicians create movement by bowing, crouching down and walking in various patterns.

Musicians who play larger instruments, like the cello, wear straps to help them more easily maneuver around the stage.

Kristin Bakkegard, 31, who plays the violin in the ensemble, performed with Kuperstein at the University of Maryland. She is the associate principal second violin of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and performs with several other orchestras in the region. She is on faculty at the Annapolis Symphony Academy and is a violin teacher at the PVA Program at Broadneck High and Bates Middle schools in Annapolis.

She said she wanted to be a part of the Movement in Music Ensemble because she wanted to be involved creatively.

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“It was a really unusual experience to be able to have this much say in the creative process and the end result, and it’s also really fun to do something else while you’re playing and move around,” Bakkegard said.

Paul Bagley, 35, also plays the violin in the ensemble and knows Kuperstein from performances at the University of Maryland. He also teaches violin and viola at Anne Arundel Community College and Broadneck High School, and is a member of the Annapolis Chamber Players and has performed with dozens of orchestras and chamber groups in the Baltimore area.


He said the Movement in Music Ensemble is more collaborative than other orchestras he has played in.

“Melanie has an outlying of dance ideas, but she’s also open to our ideas if we have suggestions about what kind of steps would go well with the music at any given point,” Bagley said.

Kuperstein said audiences can expect to hear and see an orchestral performance that showcases classical music in a new way at the concert.

“It’s going to be a really unique concert experience. Especially if you aren’t a big fan of classical music, this might be a really good one to ease into it because it’s going to be so different and unique,” Kuperstein said.

The Movement in Music Ensemble is holding its premiere chamber concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at The Chrysalis at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $15 for students, $15 for a virtual pass, and free for ages 12 and younger. For more information, go to