Mines News

Release Date Friday, April 28, 2023

Mines Students Create Mobile Chamber Music Concert Stage for Rushmore Music Festival Remote Performances

The team involved in BeethoVAN project standing on the mobile stage created by Mines students includes Dr. Jason Ash and Mines mechanical engineering majors Logan Leader, Zach Mohr, Joseph Zoller and Eric Moore with project sponsors Dr. Brett Walfish and Dr. Katie Smirnova, founders of the Rushmore Music Festival.

A team of South Dakota Mines students has created a mobile stage, called the BeethoVAN, that allows Rushmore Music Festival pop-up concerts in city parks, small towns and rural areas across the Northern Great Plains.

The first pop-up concert on the new stage is planned for noon, on Monday, May 1 in front of the university’s Surbeck Center on the Mines campus. Performers include Dr. Brett Walfish and Dr. Katie Smirnova, two faculty members at the Rushmore Music Festival, who are also sponsors of the project. All are welcome to attend; the media will have access to interviews with performers and students who completed the project.

The BeethoVAN is a mobile concert hall, a fully customized cargo trailer with an indoor/outdoor stage, equipped with sound acoustics, insulation/HVAC, solar/battery/energy storage and AV capabilities. The mobile stage that is one part of the BeethoVAN folds out to form the stage. The trailer has been designed to safely carry high-end classical instruments including cellos, basses, violins, violas and a grand piano that folds up into the wall during transport. The BeethoVAN was completed as a senior capstone design project by four mechanical engineering majors, Logan Leader, Joseph Zoller, Eric Moore and Zach Mohr. The project was overseen by Dr. Jason Ash, associate professor of mechanical engineering, at Mines. The project was funded by a grant to the Rushmore Music Festival from the Ludwick Family Foundation.

For Leader, creating this mobile stage was rewarding because it allows for concerts in rural areas that don’t often get to experience this type of music.

BeethoVAN-1“It’s a big part of why we are going this,� says Leader. “I grew up in a small town, there were no concerts -- or they are very rare. Giving these music students and professors the ability to travel around the region allows them to reach so many people in rural areas and it gives students of Rushmore Music Festival a chance to perform to many audiences.�

The team of students first met with sponsors to understand their needs, then they designed and fabricated a large number of parts needed for the trailer modification. These parts allowed for vertical storage of a grand piano, transport racks for stringed instruments and articulation and support for the fold down stage.

“Bringing concerts directly to the people in our community allows us to not only expand access to classical music but also provides opportunities for our students to use their music to enrich and give back to their community while simultaneously showing off their hard work and dedication,� says Walfish, co-founder and executive director of the Rushmore Music Festival.

The BeethoVAN will begin traveling around the region this summer, with pop-up concerts in many areas being planned.



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $68,685. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at miyun.sundayiq.com and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sundayiq.com