Lehninger’s Symphony debut brings romance to St. Cecilia

Marcelo Lehninger, Grand Rapids Symphony’s new music director, will conduct his first concert at St. Cecilia Music Center’s Royce Auditorium this week. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris



Marcelo Lehninger, Grand Rapids Symphony’s new music director, will conduct in the grand DeVos Performance Hall many times during his tenure, but this week he will conduct his first concert  in the exquisite intimacy of the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Royce Auditorium.


Somehow, that is only fitting and proper — and not just because the venue should also be perfect to experience the artistry of guest pianist Daniel Hsu.


Daniel Hsu will be the featured performer at the Grand Rapids Symphony concert. (Supplied)

On Friday, Jan. 6, Lehninger leads the orchestra in a concert of Romantic Era works by Brahms and Schumann with Hsu, a 2016 Gilmore Young Artist of Kalamazoo’s Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.


The concert, scheduled for 8 p.m., is part of the symphony’s Crowe Horwath Great Eras concert. Tickets are available.


The program title is The Romantic Concert: Schumann & Brahms, and includes Schumann’s “Piano Concerto in A minor” — the composer’s only piano concerto. And both the work and the program’s theme are perfect for a concert focused on “romance.”



Composers Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms are considered the epitome of romantic composers and both had close relationships with Robert’s wife, Clara Schumann — musical and romantic in the case of Robert, and musical and friendship with Johannes. Both composers wrote music for Clara, a pianist.


Fittingly, Clara gave Schumann’s piano concerto its premiere performance in 1846 on New Year’s Day.


The Friday concert will also features Brahms’ “Tragic Overture” and his “Variations on a Theme of Haydn”.


Portions of evening program also will be performed at 10 a.m. Friday for the Porter Hills Coffee Classic series, with doors opening at 9 a.m. for complimentary coffee and pastry prior to a one-hour concert played without intermission.


The evening program will be rebroadcast on April 9 on Blue lake Public Radio, 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.


Upcoming Lehninger symphony concerts


Lehninger’s will return to DeVos later this season as he will return in February and March for concerts with the Grand Rapids Symphony, highlighted by performances of works by Mozart and Mahler on Feb. 3-4, featuring pianist Andrew von Oeyen, and maybe the symphony season highlight on March 3-4 with a performance of Mussorgsky’s stunning and timeless “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” with guest violinist Stefan Jackiw.


It will be a treat for those who have never heard Mussorgsky’s work, a piano-solo piece in its original but orchestrated by Maurice Ravel in its most-often heard form. (OK, maybe Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s alt-rock version has been heard a lot too.) For those whom the work is new, it is a musical must.


For more information on Grand Rapids Symphony concerts visit GRSymphony.org