HHS alumnus finds way to combine passion for music, filmmakingThose familiar with the band program at Hudson High School in recent years may remember Stephen Anunson, a trombone player who excelled at his instrument and distinguished himself throughout his school years.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
Those familiar with the band program at Hudson High School in recent years may remember Stephen Anunson, a trombone player who excelled at his instrument and distinguished himself throughout his school years.
Anunson is now a senior at Lawrence University in Appleton where he is completing his studies, not only in music but in anthropology and filmmaking. And he has found a way to combine all of his areas of interest in one ambitious project.
Along with fellow Lawrence student Carolyn Armstrong, Anunson has started Bel Son Productions, a company that “aims to combine sounds and images
as a means of communicating important stories from around the world.” The pair just recently returned from Haiti where they are working on a film project documenting music camps held throughout the country, which is one of the poorest in the world.
“The music camp program in Haiti has been operating for some 15 years, almost entirely through the work of volunteers from schools like Lawrence and music professionals. The programs need a lot of support, everything from instruments to computers to teachers willing to spend a semester or a summer there,” said Anunson.
He said the goal of the film he and Armstrong are making is to tell the story of what they have witnessed firsthand in Haiti and the important impact that music and the volunteers who bring it to the people there can have.
Anunson and Armstrong spent their trimester break between Thanksgiving and Christmas traveling throughout Haiti filming. Anunson said most people know that Haiti is a very poor country but to see it for himself was an eye-opener. “I’ve certainly never seen poverty like it before. It can be a little overwhelming and it was different being the only white person on the streets sometimes. But I never felt frightened. I was with friends and the people love the program and welcomed us.”
Anunson said the project allowed him to experience the country differently than a tourist would, filming students from all areas of Haitian life.
“Learning music is universal, a kind of language of its own that musicians understand. And regardless of the music community we were in or where the students came from who were participating, the message was the same.”
Their ages of students ranged from small children to adults of all ages, both male and female, all grateful for the opportunity to experience a music theory lesson, if even for only one day.
Anunson said students come despite some pretty formidable obstacles, not the least of which can often be hunger. “But that didn’t stop them. I have never met more eager and focused music students.”
Anunson said he expects to return to Haiti in June for the summer to complete filming. He expects to be working on his film for another year and will be seeking grants to cover expenses. He believes the ultimate message of the film and his production company are important.
“Music can be used as a tool to break down barriers. It is a universal language that can change a life. Playing together in an orchestra can transform street kids into musicians and that can make a real difference, not just to them but to the culture as a whole.”
Anunson is the son of Dyan and Chad Anunson of Hudson. He graduated from HHS in 2006. For more information about his production company go to www.BelSonProductions.weebly.com.