Tag Archives: Grand Rapids Symphony

Take a Chance on the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops

In 1815, Napoleon met his Waterloo with a spectacular defeat that ended his reign as Emperor of France. In 1974, four Swedish singers met their “Waterloo” with spectacular success, winning the Eurovision Song Contest, launching a career in music that would inspire a Broadway musical, a major Hollywood movie, and sell millions of records.


The Grand Rapids Symphony’s D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops remembers The Music of ABBA to open the 23rd annual summer of musical fun at Cannonsburg Ski Area.


Arrival from Sweden joins the Grand Rapids Pops with songs such as “Mama Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “Gimme Gimme,” “Take a Chance On Me,” and many more to open the season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 13-14, at Cannonsburg ski area, 6800 Cannonsburg Rd NE. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium for both concerts underwritten by Kennari Consulting, Price Heneveld LLP and TerryTown RV as Benefactor Sponsors.


Season tickets offering substantial discounts as well as single tickets for all concerts in the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops are on sale. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 during business hours or (616) 885-1241 evenings or go online to PicnicPops.org


ABBA, named after the first names members of the group, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, was the first non- English speaking musical group to achieve major success across the English-speaking world from New Zealand to the United Kingdom and from South Africa to the United States.


From 1972 to 1982, ABBA sold over 500 million records, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. After 10 years of international success, the band dissolved. Except for a TV appearance in 1986, the four musicians did not appear together publicly again until they were reunited at the Swedish premiere of the movie Mamma Mia! starring Meryl Streep, in July 2008.


Arrival from Sweden, the most popular ABBA tribute group, has toured more than 48 nations and appeared with dozens of symphony orchestras since 1995.


Over the past 10 years in the United States, ARRIVAL has sold out eight shows in the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Denver, an arena where other world-famous artists including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, U2, and many more have appeared. Arrival last was in Grand Rapids in February 2012 at the Van Singel Fine Arts Center.


Named for ABBA’s fourth studio album, “Arrival,” as well as ABBA’s No. 1 best-selling album in Europe and Australia, Arrival from Sweden is the only tribute group given a previously unreleased ABBA song, “Just A Notion,” composed by Ulvaeus and Andersson. Arrival also has permission from ABBA’s original designer to wear exact copies of ABBA’s original stage costumes.


ARRIVAL from Sweden not only resembles ABBA in appearance, the group truly embodies the sound and personality of the Swedish pop band, making audiences feel as though ABBA itself is on stage. In fact fans often say, “It was like a real ABBA concert!”

GR Symphony brings Fairy Gardens to Blandford Nature June 2 – 4

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By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Grand Rapids Symphony


Legend has it that if you build a fairy home and leave it in your garden, you just might attract a fairy into your domain.


If you have neither the time nor the talent to build your own Fairy home, see the spectacular work of others at the Grand Rapids Symphony’s “Blandford Enchanted” at Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids.


Some 35 fairy houses created by West Michigan artists will be on display indoors Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 4, in Blandford Nature Center’s new Mary Jane Dockeray Welcome Center.


Much more can be seen throughout the grounds wildlife and nature preserve located at 1715 Hillburn Ave. NW, in Grand Rapids.


Outdoor displays, a special Fairy Boutique, live entertainment and more will be part of the three-day event organized by Grand Rapids Symphony Friends, formerly known as the Grand Rapids Symphony Women’s Committee.


Do-it-yourself Fairy Door decorating and build-it-yourself Fairy House making kits will be available. Organizers spent months gathering materials for Fairy House starter kits with all-natural materials.


A special Lantern Walk through the forest, complete with live music, will be held the evening of Saturday, June 3 among the grounds of the 143-acre preserve.


A preview party, “One Enchanted Evening,” will be held Thursday, June 1, at the nature preserve on the northwest side of Grand Rapids.


“Blandford Enchanted” will feature dozens of meticulously hand-crafted fairy houses, none more than 3-foot high, created by local artists. The community-wide project included help from students at Aquinas College and installation and technical assistance from Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. Adults and children alike will delight in the tiny details that make these dwellings so unique.


“It’s going to be absolutely enchanting,” said organizer Liz Schultz. “People won’t forget it.”


Hours for “Blandford Enchanted” are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, June 2, through Sunday, June 4. Admission is $10 adults, $5 children.


The Lantern Walk will be 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, June 3. Tickets for the Lantern Walk are $15 for all ages.


A preview party, “One Enchanted Evening,” will be held 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1.


Along with a sneak-peak preview of the exhibition, the evening includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar; music from the Celtic ensemble An Dro; and the premiere of a new ballet, set to the music of Maurice Ravel, featuring dancers from Grand Rapids Ballet and musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony.


Tickets for “One Enchanted Evening” are $75. Tickets include entertainment, food and a signature drink.


Buy tickets online for all activities here.


“Blandford Enchanted” is a fund raiser held to support the Grand Rapids Symphony’s educational programs.


“The focus is the Grand Rapids Symphony and its educational programs. That’s what’s important,” Schultz said. “The magic is what the symphony brings to our community.”


A similar event, Brookby Enchanted, held two years ago at the historic Blodgett Estate in East Grand Rapids was an enchanting success that engaged young families with the creative community of Grand Rapids.


“Brookby was really good,” Schultz said. “But this is going to be even better.”

Grand Rapids Symphony 2016-17 season ends with Beethoven’s popular ‘Eroica’ Symphony, May 19-20

By Joan Engel, GR Symphony


From “Bonaparte” to “Eroica”, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 faced an identity crisis from the start.

Ludwig van Beethoven intended to nickname his Third Symphony “Bonaparte”, for Napoleon Bonaparte, the French general he admired. After Napoleon declared himself Emperor in 1804, Beethoven revoked his dedication and renamed the brilliant piece, Sinfonia Eroica, to celebrate the memory of a great man.

The solemn, second movement of Symphony No. 3, which was premiered in 1805 in Vienna, seems to foreshadow the funeral march of Napoleon, 17 years before his actual death in 1821.

Larry Rachleff will lead the final concerts of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 19-20, in DeVos Performance Hall.

Concert sponsor is Zhang Financial, and guest artist sponsor is the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.

In prelude to the bitter-sweet symphonic work of Beethoven, Grand Rapids Symphony will begin the concerts with Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. For this French-centered finale, the orchestra welcomes former Music Advisor Larry Rachleff back to Grand Rapids together with his wife, soprano Susan Lorette Dunn, to sing selections from Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne.

“A take-charge maestro who invests everything he conducts with deep musical understanding”( Chicago Tribune), Larry Rachleff is in his 20th season as Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and served as Grand Rapids Symphony’s Music Advisor for the 2015-16 season. Rachleff is Director of Orchestras and a professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in Houston. Last season, he conducted three of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Classical Series concerts in DeVos Performance Hall.


Australian soprano, Susan Lorette Dunn studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, Queensland. Dunn is a Churchill Fellow and worked with the New York Festival of Song in New York City. She and her husband reside in Houston with their son, Sammy.

Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’aprés-midi d’un faune, based on the poem of the same name by Stéphane Mallarmé, often is compared to the lush and dreamy works of Wagner but in half the time. The work is just nine minutes long.

Susan Lorette Dunn

Debussy himself wrote: “The music of this prelude is a very free illustration of Mallarmé’s beautiful poem. By no means does it claim to be a synthesis of it. Rather there is a succession of scenes through which pass the desires and dreams of the faun in the heat of the afternoon. Then, tired of pursuing the timorous flight of nymphs and naiads, he succumbs to intoxicating sleep, in which he can finally realize his dreams of possession in universal Nature.”

Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne includes six of the sweetest French songs and pastorals you may ever hear.

Malurous qu’o uno fenno is a playful bourée exploring the dilemma whether it is better to be in love or out of love. Lo fiolaire is a sensuous tribute to a beautiful girl, spinning at her wheel, with the onomatopoeia of the sound of wheel forming a lilting refrain.

Closing the set and the first half is Lou coucut, one of the many bird songs in the Auvergne collections, this one is about a noisy cuckoo.

  • Upbeat, a free, pre-concert, multi-media presentation will be held before each performance at 7 p.m. in the DeVos Place Recital Hall. Upbeat is sponsored by BDO USA.
  • The Grand Rapids Symphony this season has introduced a special cocktail for its audiences in DeVos Performance Hall. At every concert in the 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series, try a “Spirit of the Symphony,” also called a French 75.
  • The complete Beethoven’s Eroica program will be rebroadcast on June 4, 2017, at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.

Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm, at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.

Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360-eligible concert.

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.


GR Symphony presents Beethoven & Bernstein April 21-22

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Michael Christie Conductor | Orli Shaham Piano | Patrick Dailey Countertenor | Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus Pearl Shangkuan Director

LB/LB-two colossal multi-talented geniuses make up this entertaining program devised by Michael Christie. Anticipating Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday by a year, this pairing of two of his finest works with the music of a composer Bernstein performed nearly every year of his career will make for a truly satisfying evening. With the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus front and center the concert closes with Beethoven’s ‘warm up’ to the Ninth Symphony-the Choral Fantasy with a text extolling the brotherhood of humanity. In the Chichester Psalms, Bernstein draws on his Jewish heritage to exhort humankind to goodness, drawing on some of the most beloved Psalms of the Old Testament. The theatrical Beethoven and Bernstein round out the program with Beethoven’s third and most thrilling try at an overture to his only opera and with a suite from Bernstein’s score for the iconic Marlon Brando film.


04/21/2017, 8 p.m.

04/22/2017, 8 p.m.


DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

View the program notes here.

BUY TICKETTickets start at $18 |  Students $5

Unable to attend the concert? Tune in to Blue Lake Public Radio on May 28, 2017, at 1 pm for a rebroadcast of the concert.


Tickets now on sale for the 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

The Grand Rapids Pops will rock your world in more ways than one at the 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops.

Three weeks of classic rock, including a brand-new show, Women Rock, with the music of Tina Turner, Carole King, Aretha Franklin and more, are part of the 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops season at Cannonsburg Ski Area. The season opens July 13-14 with The Music of ABBA starring Arrival from Sweden.

“It’ll be a joyously, infectious opening night. Everything about it is fun,” said Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, who will be a big part of the summer season.

The summer of rock continues July 20-21 with The Musical Legacy of Chicago featuring Brass Transit.

The three-concert series ends July 27-28 with Women Rock, a brand-new show that pays homage to some of the biggest stars and best-known female singers of the past 50 years with songs including Carole King’s I Feel The Earth Move, Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got To Do With It, Aretha Franklin’s Freeway of Love, Janis Joplin’s Piece Of My Heart, Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and Heart’s These Dreams.

Classical Fireworks on Friday, Aug. 3, welcomes Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director Marcelo Lehninger to the podium for his debut at Cannonsburg. Lehninger will lead the orchestra in audience favorites including Copland’s “Hoedown” from Appalachian Spring, the finale from Dvorak’s “From the New World” Symphony No. 9, and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, dubbed the world’s best mariachi band, ends the season on Saturday, Aug. 5.

For more info and to purchase tickets, go here.


Waltzes and world-class female conductor at GR Symphony March 24-25

JoAnn Falletta

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

When JoAnn Falletta attended Mannes College of Music in the early 1970s, her teachers were reluctant to allow her to major in conducting. They didn’t question her musical abilities as a classical guitarist. They doubted whether the New York native ever would be given a shot at becoming music director of an orchestra. Times changed, and JoAnn Falletta beat the odds.

Today, Falletta, who celebrated her 63rd birthday in February, is music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (since 1999) and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 1991. She’s conducted over 100 orchestras in the world. She attended master classes with Leonard Bernstein (whose 100th birthday is in 2017), and she’s conducting the Grand Rapids Symphony on March 24-25. 

Waltzes by Ravel and Strauss, a cryptic scherzo by Grand Rapids Symphony’s own Alexander Miller, and Italian pianist Fabio Bidini performing Saint-Saens’ exotic, Egyptian Piano Concerto No. 5 all are on the program.
Interesting back story:  One of Falletta’s principal conducting teachers was Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov, who was Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony from 1980-85. Bychkov was succeeded in 1986 as Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony by Catherine Comet, who helped pave the way for women as music directors. The French-born conductor was the very first woman appointed music director of a regional professional American orchestra.


Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.


Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.


Celebrate St. Patty’s Day with Irish singer, songwriter Cathie Ryan and Grand Rapids Pops

Cathie Ryan

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk 


For nearly 30 years, Cathie Ryan has been a leading light in Irish music.


The former lead singer for Cherish the Ladies has recorded five solo albums on her own and collaborated with a galaxy of Irish and Celtic musicians. Twice she’s been named Irish Female Vocalist of the Decade by LiveIreland and honored as one of the Top 100 Irish Americans by Irish Music Magazine.


Surprisingly, the singer and songwriter isn’t from Dublin; she’s from Detroit.


A first-generation Irish-American, Ryan is the daughter of immigrants Mary Ryan from County Kerry and Timothy Ryan from County Tipperary. Though she grew up surrounded by the music of Motown in the Motor City, Ryan also was steeped in the music of her ancestral home. Her father sang tenor, her grandmother was a fiddler and singer, and Ryan regularly crossed the Atlantic Ocean to visit relatives back home.


Singing “songs of the heart” in a distinctive soprano voice, folksinger and songwriter Cathie Ryan joins the Grand Rapids Pops for a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration that opens on St. Patrick’s Day itself, March 17.


Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the Fox Motor Pops concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 17-18, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 19, at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW.


The Cathie Ryan Band, with traditional musicians Patsy O’Brien on guitar and vocals, Patrick Mangan on fiddle, and Brian Melick on percussion, perform Ryan’s original songs such as Carrick-a-Rede plus a blend of Irish traditional music mixed with rafter-raising jigs, reels and rousing Irish step dancing with special guest dancers, West Michigan’s own Scoil Rince Ní Bhraonáin.


Ryan’s tales about her parents and their childhood in Ireland, paired with her humorous take on Irish culture, creates a true celebration of Irish-American music.


Ryan’s family’s musical legacy, coupled with the early influences while growing up as a member of The Gaelic League and Irish-American Club of Detroit, gave Ryan her start. But she faced challenges along the way.


She left Detroit to attend Fordham University in New York. In the early 1980s, she sang in a band, married a musician, became a mother and set aside her own musical career. Then she got divorced.


When her son was little, she cleaned houses during the day and returned to school at night, eventually finishing her bachelor’s degree in English literature and secondary education at the City University of New York in 1991.


But four years earlier in 1987, Ryan became the lead vocalist for Cherish the Ladies, writing songs including the title track for Cherish the Ladies’ 1992 album, The Back Door.


A 1995 appearance on a PBS-TV special, A Christmas Tradition with Tommy Makem, starring the Irish folk musician and storyteller, gave Ryan the break she needed to launch a solo career.


Cathie Ryan has been in the vanguard of Irish music ever since. Her fifth CD, Through Wind and Rain, is bringing her music to a much wider audience.


Closer to home, in 2012, Ryan was one of the first people inducted into the Michigan Irish Hall of Fame alongside another well-known descendant of Ireland, Henry Ford.



Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.


Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

Review: GR Symphony, Lehninger offers perfect ‘Pictures’, alluring Barber adagio

Marcelo Lehninger, the musical director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, on stage from a previous concert. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris



60-second Review


Grand Rapids Symphony, March 3, at DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mi.


First, of course, Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of “Pictures at an Exhibition” was suburb with Marcelo Lehninger conducting the Grand Rapids Symphony. But then I am biased, owning three recordings of the work: Mussorgsky’s initial, almost haunting piano solo; Ravel’s lush full symphony orchestration; and even Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s mesmerizing progressive-rock, synthesizer-driven version.


Stefan Jackiw (supplied; Sophie Zhai)

But the highlights of Lehninger’s final concert of the 2016-17 season, for me, may have been discovery of the guest soloist Stefan Jackiw on violin, who was brilliant both as musical and showman, as well as the conductor leading the symphony string section in an offering of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.


This being my first time seeing Lehninger leading the symphony, he more than lived up to his billing as a fiery young lion with baton in hand — a reputation he gained with the Boston Symphony, among others, and now brings to West Michigan as musical director.


Jackiw, too, demanded being center of attention on Erich Korngold’s Concerto for Violin in D Major, not only due to his shining guest soloist work but for his being an almost emotional force of nature. He is young, modern in style and artistic expression, and in the words of modern music, he and his violin shreds. His solo encore of the Largo from Bach’s Unaccompanied Violin Sonata in C was just musical icing on the evening’s cake.


Despite the age of the compositions presented at this concert, youth was served.


May I have more, please?


Lehninger prefaced the performance of Barber’s adagio by saying, from the stage, that it may be “the most melancholy and sad piece ever written” but adding that it was also “such a special piece.” And special it was. Given the dominating of much anticipated big, bold sections of Korngold’s concerto and “Pictures”, the haunting and, indeed, very sad Barber piece was a welcome introduction to a great evening.


Of course, I am also a fan of Barber’s works in general and, again, admit a bias.


Also, the Brazilian-born Lehninger hinted at the musical world of is home country he will bring to Grand Rapids next season when he will lead the orchestra in several pieces by Brazil’s best-known composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, including Momoprecóce featuring Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire.


Can’t wait.


Eclectic season planned for GR Symphony in 2017-18


By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk


The Grand Rapids Symphony has unveiled its 2017-18 season with classical blockbusters, classic rock, Broadway’s biggest hits, family friendly entertainment and cinematic special events including second and third films in the Harry Potter Film Concert Series with live music.


In 2017-18 the symphony will perform all-time classical favorites including Ravel’s Bolero, Holst’sThe Planets, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony No. 41, and an all-Tchaikovsky program on the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series.


In addition to pianist extraordinaire, Nelson Freire, world-famous soloists including violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Gabriela Montego — all three personal friends and colleagues of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s new Music Director Marcelo Lehninger — will perform on the stage.


The 2017-18 season*

Grand Rapids Symphony’s 88th season includes such monumental works as Richard Strauss’ epic tone poem, Ein Heldenleben or A Hero’s Life in DeVos Hall.


The Brazilian-born Lehninger will lead the orchestra in several pieces by Brazil’s best-known composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, including Momoprecóce featuring Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire. Several years ago, Lehninger led a performance of it with the Freire and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood.


Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus will join the orchestra for Verdi’s Requiem in the fall and for Beethoven’s “Choral” Symphony No. 9 to end the 2017-18 season.


“It’s one of the pieces I enjoy conducting the most,” Lehninger said about the Verdi Requiem.


*Click here for a pdf of the lineup.


St. Cecilia Music Center

At St. Cecilia Music Center, the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Crowe Horwath Great Eras and Porter Hills Coffee Classics series will expand from three concerts to four.


Sarah Chang, who was in Grand Rapids as St. Cecilia Music Center’s 2011 Great Artist, will open the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2017-18 season with West Side Story Suite for Violin and Orchestra, arranged for her by David Newman from Leonard Bernstein’s musical score. The performance coincides with the 100th anniversary of Bernstein’s birth in 1917.


“Sarah’s a wonderful violinist, a wonderful artist, and a personal friend of mine,” Lehninger said. “She’s the only one who plays the piece, so it was a perfect fit.”


Venezuelan pianist Gabriella Montero will be soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, part of the all-Tchaikovsky program Lehninger will lead.


“Gabriella has a sound, a big, round sound that’ll be perfect for it,” Lehninger said. “She’s a great, great pianist with a great personality, a wonderful heart, and a fabulous musician.”


The Grand Rapids Pops

Join the Grand Rapids Pops at the movies for a full-length screening of An American in Paris starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the 1951 film powered by live musical accompaniment. Back by popular demand, the Fox Motors Pops Series celebrates the music of one of the greatest film composers in history with ‘Star Wars’ and More: The Music of John Williams.


The six-concert season, which opens with a salute to the music of Fleetwood Mac by the rock group Landslide, includes an evening of Broadway blockbusters with songs from Broadway’s biggest shows of all time including WickedPhantom of the OperaThe Sound Of MusicChicagoA Chorus Line, and Cats.


Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium for the Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops, one of three shows he’ll lead on the series. Associate Conductor John Varineau will conduct the other three concerts including The Second City Guide to the Symphony, an evening of sketch comedy and beautiful music featuring The Second City comedy troupe.


A highlight of the 2017-18 season will be special-event screenings of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanthe second and third films in the Harry Potter franchise of eight movies, based on the books by J.K. Rowling.


Meanwhile, the Grand Rapids Symphony will unveil its 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops series in mid-March. Plenty of great music is coming this summer to Cannonsburg Ski Area.


Back to Carnegie Hall in 2018

Nearly 12 years ago, the Grand Rapids Symphony capped off its 75th anniversary season with a trip to the Big Apple and a concert in New York City’s Carnegie Hall.


New York Times critic Bernard Holland, noting the enthusiastic reception for the orchestra in the 2,800-seat hall, began his review with, “The Grand Rapids Symphony came to Carnegie Hall on Saturday night and brought a good part of the city with it.”


The Grand Rapids Symphony, under Lehninger, will return to Carnegie Hall near the end of its 88th season in April 2018. The Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, for the first time, will travel along with the orchestra for the performance in the world-famous concert hall.


The Brazilian-born conductor will be joined by the eminent Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire for a performance on April 20, one week after appearing in DeVos Performance Hall with a concert featuring Freire as soloist in Manuel de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain and Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Momoprecóce.



Season tickets are on sale now with select concerts also on sale to subscribers. Subscriptions are available at a discount of up to 50 percent off select series and seats for new package orders. Single tickets will be available beginning July 31.


Tickets are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm, at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)

Spirit of J.S. Bach to fill Grand Rapids March 5-11


By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk


The music of Johann Sebastian Bach is transformative. It has motivated the work of nearly every great composer to follow in the history of Western Classical music. It continues to inspire those who hear it more than 267 years after Bach’s death. The 11th Grand Rapids Bach Festival, which opens March 5, acknowledges that the music of J.S. Bach not only has staying power, it also has the ability to turn out an audience.


“The Grand Rapids Bach Festival was founded to infuse the community with opportunities to discover the works of Johann Sebastian Bach,” said David Lockington, Music Director Laureate of the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2013, following his appointment as the Festival’s director.


“We’re thrilled to share the transformational power of Bach’s music in an array of traditional and unexpected settings, said Lockington, who conducts three programs during the festival.


The 2017 Grand Rapids Bach Festival returns in March with a week of events celebrating the life and music of the composer whose music represents the pinnacle of the Baroque Era. The biennial festival launched in 1997 by Grand Rapids mezzo soprano Linn Maxell Keller, a singer, actress, organizer, advocate and devotee of the music of Bach. Keller, who died in June 2016, will be remembered during this year’s festival directed by David Lockington.


David Lockington, Music Director Laureate

The Grand Rapids Bach Festival, presented by the Grand Rapids Symphony, welcomes guest organist Isabelle Demers and harpsichordist Ian Watson to Grand Rapids and features solos by Grand Rapids Symphony’s concertmaster and violinist James Crawford, principal flutist Christopher Kantner, and principal oboist Ellen Sherman.


The culminating concert, titled Joyful Bach: Choral Celebration on March 11, features highlights of several of Bach’s cantatas including “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Cantata No. 147.


Expect some surprises during the 11th biennial festival. Visitors passing through the Gerald R. Ford International Airport on March 8 will be greeted by the music of J.S. Bach and others performed by the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Woodwind Quintet. Flutist Chris Kantner, oboist Sarah Peterson, clarinetist Suzy Bratton, hornist Erich Peterson and bassoonist Victoria Olson will play light classical music plus music by Bach from 2-5 pm in the Ford Airport’s Grand Hall adjacent to its food court.


Many area churches will include the music of Bach in Sunday services on March 5 and March 12.


The 2017 Grand Rapids Bach Festival also will remember its founder and champion, Linn Maxwell Keller. Grand Rapids Bach Festival originated in 1997 as a three-day celebration of the music of Bach, organized by Keller, a Grand Rapids resident, who had performed in major Bach festivals nationally and internationally. She engaged German organist, scholar and conductor Karl Hochreither, a noted authority on Bach’s church music, to serve as music director for several of the early festivals.


Isabelle Demers

Past guest artists at the Grand Rapids Bach Festival have included Jeannette Sorrell, harpsichordist and musical director of Apollo’s Fire in 2011. But many of the performers have been local musicians.


Keller’s vision for the festival included not only performances, but educational opportunities and explorations of Bach’s genius. Despite her loss, the Grand Rapids Bach Festival lives on.


“It’s established as long as the people of Grand Rapids want this festival,” Keller told The Grand Rapids Press in 2003. “As long as people are blessed by it and enjoy the music, it looks like we’ll be around for a while.”


The 11th biennial celebration of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach features five separate programs over six days in four churches and one museum in Grand Rapids.


Here’s the lineup:

The Bach Choral Celebration program will be rebroadcast on May 14, 2017, at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM and 90.3 FM.


Tickets are $15 for either the Creative Keyboards concert on March 7 or the Cantatas program on March 9. Students can get tickets for $5.


A freewill donation will be collected for the Bach Choral Celebration on March 11.


A $25 Bach Pass can be purchased for the entire Grand Rapids Bach Festival, and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.

Grammy winner Lalah Hathaway stars in Grand Rapids

Lalah Hathaway

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Grand Rapids Symphony


In the early 1960s, a team of African-American women supplied critical calculations that launched astronaut John Glenn into orbit and brought him home safely. The movie “Hidden Figures,” starring Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer, tells their story in the film nominated for the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture.


Its soundtrack, which evokes the 1960s R&B sounds Stevie Wonder and Smoky Robinson, includes Lalah Hathaway singing an up-tempo duet, “Surrender,” with the film’s soundtrack producer, Pharrell Williams.


Three-time Grammy Award winner Lalah Hathaway, nominated for two more Grammys this year, is the special guest for the Grand Rapids Symphony’s “Symphony with Soul” Saturday, Feb. 18.


Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt leads the Grand Rapids Symphony in the 16th annual evening of gospel, spirituals, jazz, blues, and R&B, celebrating diversity and inclusion in West Michigan, featuring community musicians performing on behalf of the wider community.


The Grand Rapids Symphony Community Chorus an ensemble of singers who sing in the gospel tradition, directed by Duane Shields Davis, will perform.


Lalah Hathaway, daughter of soul singer Donny Hathaway, often called the “first daughter of soul,” will showcase her incredibly powerful voice in DeVos Performance Hall.


Hathaway made her solo debut in 1990 and gained a Top 10 single with “Heaven Knows,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard R&B charts.  In 2013, she collaborated with R&B/Soul group Snarky Puppy on the song “Something,” which led to her first Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance in 2014.


The Chicago native released her sixth and most recent album in 2015, recorded live at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “Lalah Hathaway LIVE!” proved to be a turning point for the soul singer. The album is raw and unedited, giving an authentic look into Hathaway’s style, voice and life. Nominated for the 59th Annual Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, her new single, “Angel,” also was nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance in the awards ceremony that will be presented on Feb. 12.


Each year, the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Symphony with Soul is preceded by the Celebration of Soul, a gala dinner honoring the accomplishments of individuals and organizations in the community that emphasize and celebrate the importance of cultural awareness and inclusion in West Michigan.


This year’s recipients of the Dr. Malinda P. Sapp Legacy Award are Elias Lumpkins, Grand Rapids City Commissioner; Christina Arnold, director of The Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion at GRCC; and Cherry Street Health Services. Each are leaders in successfully advancing multiculturalism and multicultural awareness in their profession or industry and are role models of consistent, creative encouragement in the community to become more culturally competent.


Gala tickets for Celebration of Soul are $150 per person, which includes the reception, dinner and awards at the International Ballroom of the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids plus a ticket to the Symphony with Soul concert and admission to the after party at 10 p.m. Call 616-454-9451 ext. 124 for tickets.


Performers for Symphony with Soul include young musicians from the Mosaic Scholarship Program. Made possible through a gift from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Mosaic Scholarships provide talented African-American and Latino students with musical instrument rental, private, one-on-one lessons with a professional musician from the Grand Rapids Symphony, and tickets to Grand Rapids Symphony concerts.


At Symphony with Soul these young instrumentalists will perform on stage as part of the Creative Connections program started by Jill Collier Warne.


Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.


Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

Grand Rapids Pops performs ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ in concert Jan. 27-28


By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk


The Grand Rapids Pops will perform Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert with three performances Jan. 27-28 in DeVos Performance Hall as part of the Harry Potter Film Concert Series. The concert will feature the Grand Rapids Symphony performing, to picture, every note from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Audiences will be able to relive the magic of the film in high-definition on a 40-foot screen while hearing the orchestra perform John Williams’s unforgettable score.


CineConcerts and Warner Bros. Consumer Products announced the Harry Potter Film Concert Series, a new global concert tour celebrating the Harry Potter films, in April 2016. The Harry Potter Film Concert that kicked off in June 2016 is another magical experience from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.


Justin Freer, President of CineConcerts and Producer/Conductor of the Harry Potter Film Concert Series explains, “The Harry Potter film series is one of those once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomena that continues to delight millions of fans around the world,” It is with great pleasure that we introduce for the first time ever an opportunity to experience the award-winning music scores played live by a symphony orchestra, all while the beloved film is simultaneously projected onto the big screen. It will be an unforgettable event.”


Freer has quickly become one of the most sought-after conductors of film music with a long list of full symphonic live to projection projects. He has appeared with some of the world’s leading orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.


For more information on the Harry Potter Film Concert Series, please go here.


Tickets for Harry Potter in Concert start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 am-6 pm or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.

Grand Rapids Pops offers a ‘Night of Spectacular Streisand’ with Ann Hampton Callaway


By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk


Great entertainers dedicate their life to perfecting a craft, but few succeed as spectacularly as Barbra Streisand.


Star of such films as The Way We Were, Funny Girl, and Hello Dolly, the voice of such iconic songs as People, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, and Woman in Love, and producer, director, writer and star of the 1983 film Yentl, Streisand is one of a handful of entertainers ever to win, not only Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony  Awards, she’s the only entertainer also to win such awards as the Golden Globe, Peabody Award, Director Guild of America, National Medal of Arts, Kennedy Center Honor and Presidential Medal of Freedom along with the “grand slam” of American show business awards.


It takes a very special entertainer to fill Streisand’s shoes. One of the few who can is Ann Hampton Callaway.


The singer, songwriter, actress and TV host joins the Grand Rapids Pops for Hits of Barbra Streisand on Friday and Saturday Jan. 20-21 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m. at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW.


Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the Fox Motor Pops show with such Streisand hits as The Way We WereDon’t Rain on my Parade, and many more.


Callaway most often is recognized as the songwriter and singer of The Nanny Named Fran, the theme song of the TV sitcom The Nanny starring Fran Drescher. But that just scratches the surface of a career that includes a 2000 Tony nomination for her performance in the hit Broadway musical, Swing!


Anne Hampton Calloway, courtesy her website

Callaway’s tribute show, Ann Hampton Callaway Sings the Streisand Songbook, earned her a MAC Award for Show of the Year as well as two Broadwayworld.com awards in 2014, one of which was Performer of the Year.


More importantly, Callaway is a longtime songwriter and collaborator with Barbra Streisand, who first reached out to her after hearing Callaway’s song, At the Same Time. With a few changes in lyrics, Streisand recorded it for her album, Higher Ground, and the song debuted nationally at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.


That was the start of a beautiful friendship and musical collaboration. The Platinum Award-winning songwriter has since written several songs Streisand has performed and recorded including A Christmas Lullaby on Streisand’s holiday CDs, Barbra Streisand: The Classic Christmas Album and Christmas Memories.


Years later, Streisand asked Callaway to write lyrics to a melody by Rolf Lovland. The song became I’ve Dreamed of You, which Streisand sang to actor James Brolin at their wedding.


Callaway, who grew up listening to Streisand’s music, and who counts Streisand’s recording of People as one of her favorites, has collaborated with more than 30 of the world’s top orchestras and big bands. She has performed for President Bill Clinton in Washington D.C. and at President Gorbachev’s Youth Peace Summit in Moscow.


Callaway and her sister, Liz Callaway, a Tony nominee for her performances in Baby and Miss Saigon, have starred on Broadway in their two-woman show, Sibling Revelry featuring duets Streisand has sung with singers including Judy Garland and Donna Summer.


Callaway, a native of Chicago, made her Grand Rapids Symphony debut in January 2010 in a Pops Series show of songs from the Great American Songbook.


Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.


Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

Grand Rapids Symphony celebrates winter with Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5

Teddy Abrams (Photo by O’Neil Arnold, courtesy of Grand Rapids Symphony.)

By Jeffrey Kaczamarczyk

Grand Rapids Symphony


At the heights of their careers, the world’s great poets, painters, playwrights and performers often become cultural heroes in the native lands.


Finnish composer Jean Sibelius just may top them all.


In 1915, the government of Finland commissioned its favorite son to compose a new symphony for orchestra. But the commission wasn’t in honor of crowning a new monarch or in remembrance of an important historical event.


The new work was commissioned to honor the composer himself, and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 was premiered on the very date of the composer’s 50th birthday on Dec. 8.


To this day, the Finns remember the birthday of the composer celebrated for portraying the Finnish landscape and expressing the character of its people in his music.


Grand Rapids Symphony performs Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 for the fifth concerts of the 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series concerts on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 13 and 14, in DeVos Performance Hall. Guest conductor Teddy Abrams, music director of the Louisville Orchestra, will lead the program titled Sibelius Symphony No. 5 with music by four composers all written within a 40-year period from 1915 to 1955.


A former assistant conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 2012-2014, Abrams conducts the Grand Rapids Symphony in three important works by composers who each loomed large over their country’s cultural milieu. In addition to Sibelius in Finland, the three include Sergei Prokofiev in the former Soviet Union, and Aaron Copland in the Unites States.


Benjamin Beilman (Photo by Christian Steiner, courtesy of Grand Rapids Symphony.)

Guest violinist Benjamin Beilman, who performs this season at the Dvorak Festival in Prague, in London’s Wigmore Hall and goes on a 10-city tour of Australia, joins the Grand Rapids Symphony to play Prokofiev’s youthful Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, written against the backdrop of the looming Russian Revolution.


A winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and First Prize in the Young Concert Artists international Auditions in 2010, Beilman has performed with orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Frankfort Radio Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony and the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal,


Many great composers of the 20th century tried their hand at composing film music. Not all succeeded. Aaron Copland’s score for the 1940 film Our Town, an adaptation of the celebrated play by Thornton Wilder, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Score, and the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. Copland later adapted the film score for concert use.


The concerts open with Samuel Barber’s Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, a seven-movement concert suite drawn from the American composer’s 1955 ballet, Medea.




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


Grand Rapids Pops ‘Video Games Live!’ set for Jan. 7

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Grand Rapids Symphony


Playing video games offers some of the most intensively, immersive experiences you can have. But unless you’re playing with a friend, it’s an experience you often have on your own.


Join the Grand Rapids Pops for Video Games Live! Jan. 7 at DeVos Performance Hall and enjoy the fun that comes with seeing some of the most successful video games of all time on the big screen, hearing the original music played live by the Grand Rapids Symphony, and sharing the experience with several hundred fellow gamers.


Experience the magic of  with the Grand Rapids Symphony in Video Games Live! a must-see for gaming aficionados and music lovers alike.


Guest conductor Emmanuel Fratianni guides the Grand Rapids Pops, plus soloists and electronic percussionists, through the well-known soundtracks of your favorite games, accompanied by images and video from the games.


The show combines the power and emotion of a symphony orchestra plus the energy and excitement of a rock concert on top of the technology and interactivity of a video game.


The show was co-created and produced by Tommy Tallarico, one of the most successful video game composers of all time.


“Music is there to drive the action,” said Tallarico’s partner, co-founder Jack Wall about music’s role in the gaming world, “There are engaging melodies that have a lot of power to them.”


When Video Games Live! held its first show in 2005 in Los Angeles, California, a record number of 11,000 people were in the audience, making it the biggest video game concert in the world. Since then, the concert experience has become known worldwide across Europe, Asia, and South America.


The concert not only immerses the audience in electrifying musical compositions, but draws them in with stunning visuals from some of the most beloved games, such as Mario™, Zelda™, Halo®, Final Fantasy®, synced up to lighting effects and live action and unique interactive segments that combine into one captivating entertainment experience.


Tickets for Video Games Live start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 a.m. -5 p.m. at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616-454-9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.

‘Nutcracker’ includes sibling youth dancers from Kentwood

The Grand Rapids Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” returns to DeVos Performance Hall for two weekends — Dec. 9-11 and Dec. 16-18. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris



When the annual run of the Grand Rapids Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” hits the stage Friday, Dec. 9, it will include staring rolls by the company’s professional dancers and, as always, often a stage full of youth dancers.


Again this year, Kentwood sisters Grace and Micah Jones will be among those lending their talents to the production a part of the ballet’s youth dance program — one sister because she sees dance as a possible future career and the other because it is just “so much fun.”


The classic family holiday tradition returns to DeVos Performance Hall for two weekends — Dec. 9-11 and Dec. 16-18 —  with four evening shows and four matinees. Live orchestra music is provided by Grand Rapids Symphony, conducted by symphony Associate Conductor John Varineau.


Grace, a 16-year-old junior at Grand River Preparatory High School, has been dancing at Grand Rapids Ballet for 11 years and has been a member of the Junior Company since its inception. This year will be her 8th Nutcracker appearance.


Grace Jones

“I started dancing when I was 2, my parents saw that I loved movement and loved dancing,” Grace said last week, prior to a rehearsal. “My parents saw I needed something to get my energy out so they said ‘Let’s put her into dance.’ I really didn’t get into ballet right away. I was into jazz and tap and hip hop, but at about 5, I went into ballet because I loved the movement.”


She also loved The Nutcracker, thanks to her father, Ronald.


“I remember going to The Nutcracker every year, when I was younger,” she said. “My dad would take me every year, starting at 4 and then every year until I was 8, when I got to be in it for the first time.”


Seven productions later, she is still excited about the annual holiday production.


“I have always loved being in front of the audience,” Grace said. “I love sharing, I love exposing the audience to something new. For me, when I first watched it, it was so beautiful, to watch those beautiful dancers, the beautiful colors and costumes and shapes they make on the stage. I said ‘Wow. I want to do that.’ … Now I want to give some other girl that feeling, the feeling I felt when I was younger.”


According to her mother, Sandra, Grace hopes to dance in college while pursuing professional opportunities. But she sees dance as a means to other career paths as well.


“I love teaching, maybe teaching dance, “ Grace said. “I would love to show others the joy I found in dance.”


One of the people she has shown the love of dance to is her sister.


Micah, age 13 and a 7th grader at Cross Creek Charter Academy, says music is her first love — she has been playing the piano for 8 years, and her mother says she has talked about assisting with her college expenses by playing piano for ballet companies.


Micah Jones

But Micah has been with working with the Grand Rapids Ballet youth program for four years and will be in the Nutcracker for the third year.


“I saw saw my sister, and other people, in dance and it looked so fun,” Micah said, explaining why she wanted to dance. “It is so free, you get to move how you want to move.”


She also said she receives plenty of advice and encouragement from her older sister.


“Since she is such a good dancer, she really helps me when I need help, with technique or how I am supposed to move,” Micah said.


And as far as her first time in front of the usually large crowds watching the Nutcracker, any advice from her older sister?


“She told me not to think of the crowd, just remember your choreography, remember what you are there to do.”


While the two sisters will be dancing different rolls this season, the thing they have in common is an affinity for the famous battle scene. “It is a giant battle scene,” Grace points out, while Micah simply says the scene is “so much fun.”


Anybody who has seen the production knows what they are talking about; those how haven’t have two weekends worth of opportunity.


For more information, call 616-454-4771 or visit grballet.com


Grammy-nominated MercyMe performs at Resurrection Life Church


By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Grand Rapids Symphony


One year ago, MercyMe was riding on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an experience that guitarist Mike Scheuchzer remembered as “surreal.”


“To ride down the road and see that many people, crammed on the street, it was literally like being in a movie and right in the middle of it,” he recalled. “That was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever done in my life.”


Today, the Grammy-nominated band from Greenville, Texas, is preparing for its 2016 Christmas tour, which opens Tues, Nov. 29, with the Grand Rapids Symphony at Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.


So far, MercyMe has only done about eight to 10 concerts with orchestra. But if Scheuchzer had his way, all of the group’s Christmas shows would be with symphony orchestra.


“It’s a stunning experience,” he said. “To add what an orchestra brings, it makes it feel that much more like Christmas. It’s really beautiful.”


Grand Rapids Symphony Associate Conductor John Varineau will lead the 7:30 p.m. concert at Resurrection Live Church, 5100 Ivanrest Ave. SW. Tickets start at $30.


Grand Rapids is the only Christmas show in the Midwest that MercyMe will perform with symphony orchestra this holiday season, making the concert an extra special experience for them.


“None of us are classically trained musicians,” said Scheuchzer, who co-founded MercyMe with vocalist Bart Millard, in 1994. “We have huge respect for what these men and women do. We stand in awe.”


mercyme2Consisting of drummer Robby Shaffer, bassist Nathan Cochran and guitarist Barry Graul along with Scheuchzer and Millard, MercyMe will be in Grand Rapids with a Christmas-flavored concert including songs such “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland.”


When his father died in 1991, Millard, took up pen and paper to reflect on the loss.


Alone on a tour bus in the middle of the night, Millard, only 18 years old at the time, drew on his faith and gathered his thoughts about what it would be like to stand before God in heaven.


The lyrics became “I Can Only Imagine,” a song on MercyMe’s 1999 album, “The Worship Project.”


In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorists attacks in 2001, the ballad soon dominated Christian radio, crossing over to mainstream radio in the next two years, spending 16 weeks in total on the Hot 100 Adult Contemporary Chart.


In 2010, “I Can Only Imagine” became the first single in the Christian genre certified platinum with over 1 million digital downloads. Four years later, it was certified double platinum with over 2 million digital downloads.


The Grammy-nominated band from Greenville, Texas, is credited with six of the top 50 Christian songs of the first decade of the 21st century, according to Billboard.


Winner of two American Music Awards, nominated for five in all, MercyMe’s hits include “Here With Me,” “Homesick” and “So Long Self,” The band was in Grand Rapids as part of the Rock and Worship Road Show that appeared in the Van Andel Arena in February 2013.

The Weekend Edition: Things to do Nov. 3 – 6




















Phone home…

The Grand Rapids Symphony will perform the score to Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming masterpiece “E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial” as the film is projected on a huge HD screen.


The classic story follows the friendship of a lost alien and a 10-year-old boy named Elliott who end up on a series of adventures to help E.T. go home.


The movie magic happens at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 4 and 5, and 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6 at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW. Tickets start at $18 with student tickets $5. For more information, click here.

Jeff Musial

Kid Zone


Kidabaloo takes over DeVos Place Saturday, Nov 5. From a 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. there will be a host of activities for children along with special guests stopping by.


One of those guests is animal expert extraordinaire Jeff Musial. Musial has appeared on a number of shows including “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “Today,” and most recently “Steve Harvey” for the Harvey’s Halloween special. Musial has made a name for himself as an animal educator along with helping his animal sanctuary. He will be presenting at 2 p.m. Other stars scheduled to come include several from popular television shows on Nickelodeon and Disney.


Tickets are $7/children 3 – 11 and $5/for those 12 and older. There are family four packs for $20. For more information, click here.


sih1e4bt-720-480_581_325_90_int_c1Holiday Shows


Get a jump start on that holiday shopping by attending the Holiday Gift Show at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 E. Beltline NE.


The show is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, and features items from more than three dozen regional artists and vendors. There will be items from home décor, gardening gear, jewelry, culinary wares, logo items, books, music and toys for all ages, wine and wine accessories.


The Holiday Gift Show is free admission. For more information on the show, meijergardens.org. For information on other upcoming arts and crafts show, click here.



spaceajourneyLost in Space


The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum will open its newest exhibit, “SPACE: A Journey to Our Future,” Friday, Nov. 5.


The exhibition, which runs through May 29, is designed to immerse visitors in the discoveries of the past and introduces them to today’s explorers. Visitors will have the opportunity to ride a lunar module simulator on a journey to the surface of the moon and visit a simulated scientific base camp on Mars.


Experience ‘E.T.’ as you never have before, Nov. 4-6 at DeVos Hall


Grand Rapids Pops presents E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with a full-length screening of the entire movie, coupled with a live performance of the film score Nov. 4-6 at DeVos Performance Hall.


For the two or three people out there who’ve never seen E.T., the film tells the tale of a gentle alien who is accidentally stranded on Earth. Discovered and befriended by Elliott, who brings his new friend to his suburban California home, E.T. soon falls ill. But with the help of his brother and sister, Elliott manages to keep E.T. hidden from the government long enough for the visitor to return home.


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was a huge hit when it was released in 1982. The film by Steven Spielberg quickly surpassed Star Wars as the top-grossing film of all time until it was topped 11 years later by Jurassic Park. The three films all have two things in common: All three are Spielberg films and all three have film scores composed by John Williams.


“He is my hero,” said Grand Rapids Symphony Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, about the five-time Oscar-winning film composer of more than 100 film scores.


Williams uses the ethereal sounds of harps, celeste, other keyboards plus some polytonality, to suggest the separate but intertwined relationship between Elliot and E.T.


Grand Rapids Symphony’s Principal Harpist Elizabeth Wooster Colpean has been studying and practicing her part — some 90 pages of music — since May. Williams gives the harpist at least four or five major solo passages, including two scenes that are nearly an entire harp solo.


“I’ve noticed in the years I’ve watched John Williams’s films that he often uses the harp in very unusual ways,” Colpean said. “What makes these particular scenes challenging is three-fold: rhythms, technique and the fact that it’s so exposed.”


Grand Rapids Symphony Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the Grand Rapids Pops performance of the score that won Williams his third Oscar and his second for Best Original Music.


e-tThe inspiration for the 1982 film, which launched the career of actress Drew Barrymore, was an imaginary friend Spielberg created after his parents’ divorce in 1960. It has inspired young people of all ages ever since.


The final scenes of E.T. proved to be a milestone in Williams’s career and 40-year association with Spielberg. During the recording process, after Williams made several unsuccessful attempts to match his score to the film, Spielberg turned the film off and asked Williams to conduct the music for the scene as he would in a concert. Instead of the usual practice of recording the soundtrack to coincide with the final edit of the film, Spielberg re-edited the finale to match the music.


One of the most popular and successful American orchestral composers of the modern age, Williams’s films also include such dramas as Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan as well as comedies including Home Alone and The Witches of Eastwick. Besides his five Academy Awards, Williams has received 50 Oscar nominations — most recently for Star Wars: The Force Awakens — making him the Academy’s most-nominated living person and the second-most nominated person in its history.


In January 1980, Williams was named Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, after which he hired Bernhardt as a guest conductor for the Boston Pops. Though Williams retired in December 1993, Bernhardt continues as a recurring guest conductor for the venerable orchestra.


Bernhardt will be back in Grand Rapids for the Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops with five performances featuring the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Youth Chorus, and Embellish Handbell Ensemble, December 1st to 4th in DeVos Performance Hall.



See the movie that won four Academy Awards — including Best Original Score — at 8 pm Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5, and at 3 pm Sunday, Nov. 6 in DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.


Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9am to 5pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are also available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10am to 6pm or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.


Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360-eligible concert.

Shrek, Kung Fu Panda join Grand Rapids Symphony for an animated evening








By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Grand Rapids Symphony


The tales told in films from DreamWorks Animation are some of the best in contemporary cinema.


An unexpected friendship between a hapless, young Viking and a dragon; a surprising romance between an ogre and a princess; and the unexpected adventures of animals who have spent their entire life in New York’s Central Park Zoo, suddenly thrust back into their native habitat, all are told in How to Train Your DragonShrek and Madagascar.


But the drama of the Bridge scene in Kung Fu Panda or the intensity of the Calling the Guardians in Rise of the Guardians wouldn’t be as dramatic or intense without the music illuminating the action.


As good as it is to see in the theater, it’s even better when the music is LIVE.


Justin Freer
Justin Freer

DreamWorks Animation and CineConcerts bring DreamWorks Animation in Concert to Grand Rapids for one-night only at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, in DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW.


Guest conductor Justin Freer leads the Grand Rapids Symphony in a live performance of favorite moments from some of DreamWorks Animation’s most beloved films.


“DreamWorks has brought such delight to families around the globe with their vibrant characters and adventurous stories,” said Freer, President of CineConcerts as well as Producer/Conductor of DreamWorks Animation in Concert. “What carries us through these charismatic experiences is the inspired and fitting music.  To be able to showcase the music in a movie-like environment is an entertainment memory we hope lasts forever.”


kung-fu-panda-dreamworks-animation-in-concertEnjoy years of inspired animation and iconic music scores by Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell, Alexandre Desplat, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman and many others.  Relive moments from Puss in BootsMonsters vs. AliensThe Croods and Mr. Peabody and Sherman as scenes from the films are projected in HD onto the big screen, and the Grand Rapids Symphony does the rest.


DreamWorks Animation Live Entertainment Head Eric Stevens says, “We are excited to bring the stunning music of our composers to life on stage to be showcased in this great and fun event for music and movie fans of all ages.”


The studio has released a total of 32 feature films, including sequels for films such as Shrek, and How to Train Your Dragon.


Tickets for DreamWorks Animation in Concert start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 a.m. -5 p.m. at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616-454-9451, ext. 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.

Enjoy an evening of (mostly) Mozart at St. Cecilia Oct. 21



Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, also known as the Haffner Symphony, began life as a serenade to be used as background music for the ennoblement (i.e., having nobility conferred upon) of Sigmund Haffner, a well-to-do bigwig back in the 1770s. It eventually morphed (with the help of Mozart) into the Haffner Symphony, which was first performed on March 23, 1783, at the Vienna Burgtheater.


ge1-mozartOn Friday, October 21 at 8 pm with John Varineau conducting, Rick Britsch on horn,  Erich Peterson on horn and Daniel Hass on cello, the performance will begin with a gracious earlier symphony written when Mozart was seventeen and had just started working for the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg. As a special treat, Israeli cellist Daniel Hass, winner of the 2016 Stulberg International String Competition in Kalamazoo, will make a guest appearance.


Here’s the program:

Mozart Symphony No. 23 in D Major, K. 181
Boccherini Concerto for Cello in B-flat Major, G. 481
Mozart Horn Concerto No. 2, K. 417
Haydn Concerto for Two Horns (3rd mvt.)
Mozart Symphony No. 35 (aka Haffner Symphony)




Royce Auditorium, St. Cecilia Music Center is located at 24 Ransom Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.




The Weekend Edition: Things to do for Sept. 22 – 25

Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



It might be a little cloudy this weekend, but that should not stop  anyone from venturing out. And there is plenty to do with ArtPrize rolling in this week.


So to help fill your weekend calendar, here are just a few things we spotted that we thought you might enjoy:


ARTPRIZECP15Thursday, Sept. 22: ArtPrize kicked off on Wednesday and you have until Oct. 9 to see it all. The radically open international art competition is mostly located in downtown Grand Rapids and is walkable. New are eight ArtPrize Hubs serving as welcoming centers and voter registration. The hubs are Center City Hub @ GRAM, 101 Monroe Center NW; Heartside Hub @ UICA, 2 W. Fulton St.; Hillside Hub @ Women’s City Club, 254 E. Fulton St.; Rumsey Street Hub @SiTE:LAB, 333 Rumsey St. SW; Monroe North Hub @ DeVos Place, 303 Monroe Ave. NW; Westside Hub @ the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl St. NW; Meijer Gardens Hub, 1000 E. Beltline NE; and the ArtPrize Hub/Headquarters at 41 Sheldon Blvd SE.

Round one voting ends Oct 1 with the final 20 announced Oct. 2. (Note only two entries per venue will be allowed to advance to the top 20.) Round 2 voting ends Oct. 6 with the winners announced Oct. 7. For more information, visit artprize.org.



Friday, Sept. 23: The Grand Rapids Symphony kicks off its Pops season with the concert “The Piano Men,” featuring pianist Jim Witter. The concert, which is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, will feature some of the most popular hits of Billy Joel and Elton John accompanied by a multi-media musical journey. Tickets are $90 – $15. For more information, visit grsymphony.org.


Courtesy of @grcivictheatre instagram
Courtesy of @grcivictheatre instagram

Saturday, Sept. 24: David Lindsay-Abairee’s play “Good People,” about the struggles of the lower middle class, wraps up its run at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre this weekend. Showtime for tonight is at 7:30 p.m. at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, 30 N. Division Ave. The last show is Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $28 – $16. For more, check out the review by Susanne Ablaitis or visit grtc.org.


Of you can head over to Caledonia for the Harvest Festival from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Hosted by the Caledonia Area Chamber of Commerce, this family-friendly event includes a hayride, pumpkin decorating, a hay maze, face painting, games, music, an antique tractor display, food samples from area restaurants and a baked goods sale by the Caledonia Women’s Club.  There is also a Scarecrow Contest. For more information, visit www.caledoniachamber.com/harvestfestival.


Sunday, Sept. 25: Loren Barrigar and Mark Mazengarb bring their “One to One” tour to Grand Rapids Wealthy Theater, 1110 Wealthy St. SE. Barrigar and Mazengarb share a musical chemistry and stage presence seldom found around musicians. The duo’s repertoire constants of original and arranged music of guitar instrumentals and vocal duets. They have been influenced by Americana, Jazz, Country Western, and Classical music. The two perform at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit Wealthy Theatre’s website.


BONUS EVENT: Dorr’s New Salem Corn Maze will be hosting its annual Wusrt Festival Ever this weekend with lots of music and fun. This Friday is the country/southern bands No One’s Home, Double Barrel and Dani Jamerson. Saturday, gates open at 11 a.m. with a host of activities such as the Human Hamster Ball Race and live music starting at 4 p.m. The Outer Vibe caps off the two-day event with a performance from 9:30 p.m. to dusk. Tickets are $5/Friday and $10/Saturday. Also all the haunted attractions start that weekend as well. For more information, visit www.newsalemcornmaze.com.

‘Rhapsody in Blue’ opens Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2016-17 season

c1_rhapsodyRhapsody in Blue, which launched composer George Gershwin’s career, inaugurates the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2016/17 season, which welcomes to town Marcelo Lehninger as the new music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony. The Brazilian-born conductor will be on the podium later this season.


Associate conductor John Varineau will lead the opening concerts of the 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series at 8 pm Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16th and 17th, in DeVos Performance Hall (303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). Spectrum Health is the Concert Sponsor.


In its earliest days, jazz was the music of brothels and bars in the “red-light” districts of cities such as New Orleans. But in the Roaring 20s, bandleader Paul Whiteman commissioned songwriter George Gershwin to write a piece merging classical music with elements of the newly emerging sounds of jazz.


The sensational premiere of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in 1924 in New York City brought jazz from the streets and the speakeasies into the symphonic concert hall and elevated the song plugger from Tin Pan Alley into the ranks of serious composers.


That same year, George Antheil, the original “Bad Boy of Music,” caused a minor scandal when his propulsive A Jazz Symphony was premiered at Carnegie Hall. Hear for yourself what caused all the fuss in New York City in 1927.


Americana continues with Aaron Copland’s Suite from Appalachian Spring Suite, drawn from his music for the ballet that celebrates the simple life of pioneers in the 19th century as they build a house, witness a wedding and treasure the gift to be simple.


Rounding out the program is the Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloe by French composer Maurice Ravel, who later became a great admirer of jazz himself. Unlike Copland’s setting in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania, Ravel’s musical tale is set in a country side in ancient Greece where the shepherd, Daphnis, woos his beloved Chloe with the help of the mythological god, Pan.


Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS box office, weekdays 9am to 5pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)


Tickets are also available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10am to 6pm or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.


Full-time students of any age may purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360-eligible concert.


The ‘Imperial March’ storms through Grand Rapids

Imperial March storms to GR By: Katelyn Kohane


I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a performance of music of the great John Williams by the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Grand Rapids Choir. As one of my favorite composers, it was magical to hear his work.


The performance centered around his great songs over the years from many different films. In between songs, the conductor mentioned some interesting facts about John Williams. Did you know that John Williams has received the Olympic Order? The Olympic Order is the highest award at the Olympics. Or another one, did you know that John Williams will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award this year and that it will be the first time a composer has won the award?


While the newfound knowledge about my favorite composer added to his legacy, it was the performance of his music that solidified why he’s my favorite.


The first act included “March” from Superman, “Anakin’s Theme” from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, “Theme from Schindler’s List”, and “Flight to Neverland” from Hook. Towards the end of “Anakin’s Theme”, Darth Vadar and the Stormtroopers came out and interrupted the show. The conductor followed suit and played the “Imperial March” at the request of the ruler of the galaxy.


Then came the first intermission.


After the break, the Grand Rapids Choir joined in on the fun and performed “Duel of the Fates” from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – one of my favorites! I could just picture Obi-Want, Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul engaged in a life-or-death lightsaber battle on Naboo.


Following “Fuel of the Fates” came “Somewhere in My Memory” from Home Alone, “Dry Your Tears Afrika” from Amistad (one I did not know but loved it.), “Hymn to the Fallen” from Saving Private Ryan, and the main theme from the Olympics, “Call of the Champions.”


After a second intermission, the performances kept on coming! “Harry’s Wondrous World” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “Sayuri’s Theme” from Memoirs of a Geisha, Selections from Fiddler on the Roof, and for the first time since Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters, “Rey’s Theme” and “March of the Resistance.”


While listening to all the works of music was special, I was personally hoping to hear Indiana Jones. However, the last song was played and I was left wanting more! Fortunately, the conductor came back out for an encore and satisfied my appetite with a playing of Indiana Jones.


It was an epic performance by the Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Choir.


Katie works in the film industry as a camera operator and has worked on films like ‘All You Can Dream’, ‘Set Up’ and a TV show called ‘American Fallen Soldier.’ She loves helping WKTV with the Citizen Journalism team and working as a tech at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Katie loves working in the film industry and loves watching movies just as much!

Good vibrations for the summer as the Grand Rapids Symphony announces its 2016 Picnic Pops season

Jeans ‘n Classics performs in the We Will Rock You! The Music of Queen, July 21 & 22.
Jeans ‘n Classics performs in the We Will Rock You! The Music of Queen, July 21 & 22.

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk



New experiences and new sounds, including a tribute to the rock group Queen, are part of the 2016 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops season.


But old standbys, including one of West Michigan’s best fireworks shows of the summer, also returns in July for the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 22nd annual summer series that welcomes the music of the Beach Boys back to the great outdoors of Cannonsburg Ski Area.


Today, your Grand Rapids Symphony unveils the three-concert season of shows happening on Thursday and Friday evenings. Two more special-event, one-night-only shows in early August will be announced soon.


Single tickets plus series tickets and flexpasses, offering substantial discounts, over single-ticket prices, all are on sale. Save up to 28 percent with a 3-Concert Series subscription or save up to 17 percent with a 6-ticket Flexpass. Go online to the Grand Rapids Symphony’s website for more information.


The Classical Fireworks will be lead by Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, July 14 & 15.
The Classical Fireworks will be lead by Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, July 14 & 15.

The 2016 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops opens July 14-15 with Classical Fireworks at 8 p.m. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium for the show he describes as “classics go to the movies.”


“Wagner, Beethoven and Grieg were great film composers – and didn’t know it,” said Bernhardt who made his Picnic Pops debut last summer at Cannonsburg.


Popular orchestral favorites from movies, such as Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, which is heard in films including Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and What’s Opera, Doc, are part of the show.


“It’s almost all music not originally for film but for the concert stage,” Bernhardt said.


Two exceptions include music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, which were composed for film. Next season, the Grand Rapids Symphony will screen both films in their entirety, accompanied by live music, during the 2016-17 season indoors in DeVos Performance Hall.


Tchaikovsky’s stirring 1812 Overture, heard in many films but featured prominently in the 2006 film V for Vendetta, closes each night’s Picnic Pops concert with a pyrotechnic display.


Benefactor sponsors include TerryTown RV, Kennari Consulting and Chemical Bank for the concerts including the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, featured prominently in The King’s Speech, in the climactic scene in which King George VI addresses the nation on radio that the United Kingdom is at war with Nazi Germany.


“Every concert needs moments of reflection,” said Bernhardt, who returns for his second D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops season with the Grand Rapids Symphony.


The 2016 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops continues July 21-22 at 7:30 p.m. with We will Rock You! The Music of Queen.


Special guests Jeans ‘n Classics return to Grand Rapids for such hit music as Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites the Dust, You’re My Best Friend, and We Are the Champions led by associate conductor John Varineau.


The Canadian rock group appeared previously with the Grand Rapids Symphony in a tribute to the music of Elton John in 2010 and in a salute to songs from the James Bond series of films in 2009. Led by guitarist and arranger Peter Brennan, Jeans ‘n Classics is back with a new show with songs made famous by the glam rock band of the 1970s and 1980s. Benefactor sponsors are Mercy Health – St. Mary’s and Universal Forest Products.


The three-concert season ends July 28-29 at 7:30 p.m. with The Music of the Beach Boys featuring the veteran surf rock band

Papa Doo Run Run performs in the Music of the Beach Boys, July 28 & 29.
Papa Doo Run Run performs in the Music of the Beach Boys, July 28 & 29.

, which was at Cannonsburg in July 2011 for the Grand Rapids Pops summer season.


Launched in the 1960s in Cupertino, California, Papa Doo Run Run toured behind Jan & Dean and spent 15 years as the celebrity house band at Disneyland. The group earned a Top 40 hit with their cover of Be True to Your School, plus a Gold Record and Grammy Award nomination for the 1985 recording, California Project. Several members of the group have toured and recorded with Brian Wilson and with other incarnations of the Beach Boys. Miller Johnson and Mary Free Bed are benefactor sponsors for Papa Doo Run run’s return to West Michigan.


Gates at Cannonsburg Ski Area open at 5:45 p.m. each night for picnicking and pre-concert entertainment, including free, kid-friendly activities such as face painting, crafts, and a musical instrument petting zoo.


Pack your own picnic baskets and coolers or purchase food from the grill at the Cannonsburg concession stand. Alcoholic beverages are permitted on the grounds, and parking is free for concertgoers.


Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk is the public relations director for the Grand Rapids Symphony. To check out the current season and the 2016 Picnic Pops, visit grsymhony.org.

Pull Aside the Curtain for a Backstage Experience

Opening The CurtainWhenever you visit a place, you’re never seeing the full story. There’s always something going on behind an “employees only” door or a little secret that only the well-informed know. Luckily for you, some of the best places to visit in West Michigan have tours to show you everything you need to know. Ever want to see how Bell’s brews their beer? Or how Grimaldi’s chocolates turn out so delicious? Look no further than some of these behind the scenes tours!

South Region

Henderson Castle

The historic Henderson Castle was built in 1895 and is one of Kalamazoo’s most treasured landmarks. Today, they welcome visitors to come explore the castle in its entirety with their VIP Legacy Tour package. With this package, you can explore all floors of the castle from their basement kitchen to their rooftop deck and everything in between. Places that guests typically don’t see such as the vineyards and wine cave are also shown. If you want to get the most out of your trip to Henderson Castle, look no further than this extensive tour package!

Journeyman DistilleryJourneyman Distillery

Journeyman Distillery offers tours every day! The distillery is located in an 1800s factory building and has retained much of the original and historic architecture. Tours last approximately one hour and include the history of the distillery, a tour of the production facility, and an overview on how their spirits are produced. Of course, the tour concludes with a tasting of some of Journeyman’s finest spirits!

West Michigan Beer Tours

Why just tour one brewery when you can tour three? West Michigan Beer Tours offers variety of public tours with most including stops at three breweries to sample, tour, and meet the owners or brewers. Your tour director is knowledgeable in both the beer industry and the local area so you know that you’re getting a great tour. You’ll travel comfortably from brewery to brewery on their mini-coach bus. West Michigan Beer Tours is one of the best ways to see the behind of the scenes of local breweries!

Bells-Brewing-Logo1Bell’s Brewery

Bell’s Brewery was a significantly different kind of brewery 30 years ago. It had one employee, Larry Bell, who worked out of plastic garbage bags and a 15-gallon stock pot. Today, Bell’s employs more the 400 people over 22 states and has their original brewery still in Downtown Kalamazoo. They offer free tours there on Saturdays and Sundays for those looking to see what goes into making their beer. Their Comstock brewery offers self guided tours where the public is welcome to observe the large area at their own leisure.

St. Julian Winery

St. Julian Winery’s Paw Paw location offers free year-round tours! Tours run seven days a week and all ages are welcome. After your tour, don’t miss their standard tasting of six samples of your choice and a complimentary logo glass which is yours to take home. Choose from over 40 products including wines that are exclusive to their tasting rooms, their Grey Heron Vodka, and their A&G Brandy. If you want even more, their Enhanced Tasting & Tour is reservation only and more than just your average experience! This is an extended tour and includes your choices of cheese or chocolate pairs. Their wine educators offer an in-depth education on the winemaking process from bud-break to bottling!

Marshall Historical SocietyMarshall Historical Society

Don’t miss the longest running home tour in the Great Lakes area with Marshall Historical Society‘s Historic Home Tour! Private residences, commercial buildings, museums, and fairground buildings are given the tour treatment. The public is always invited to come see some of these amazing and unique places. Want to learn more about the architecture or the history behind of some of Marshall’s most famous buildings? Then take a day or two to explore and learn from one of the most trusted sources on Marshall’s past. Keep an eye out for 2016 dates!

Central Region

Grand Rapids Symphony

Have you ever wanted to see what goes into producing a symphony? The Grand Rapids Symphony offers both backstage tours as well as musician meet-and-greets to educate the public on their exciting work. With their new program, Backstage and Behind the Music, each session corresponds to one of the symphony’s concerts and gives guests the opportunity to see the entire process. For adults ages 21 to 35, there is the MySymphony360 program which includes discounted tickets, best available sating, exclusive backstage access, and musical meet-and-greets.

Long Road DistilleryLong Road Distillery

Long Road Distillery takes great pride in their signature whiskies, vodkas, and gins. To show how much work goes into these creations, they invite you to tour their distillery. Led by one of their distillers or owners, tours take visitors through the entire distilling process, its principles, and where the ingredients come from. Questions are encouraged so don’t hesitate to ask your knowledgeable tour guide. You might even get to sample a spirit or two when you’re done!

Chocolates by Grimaldi

The factory tour at Chocolates by Grimaldi is the perfect way to learn about the process of making chocolate. See everything from the pod, to the bean, to the chocolate that you can eat! Taste fresh samples right off the line and see the production area for yourself. Check out their 1950s enrober that is just like the one from I Love Lucy. Schedule your tour today to see how Grand Haven gets their unique chocolates!

North Region

Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel’s new stable is a great way to not only see the horses up close, but to also tour the island. Group carriage tours around Mackinac Island are perfect to learn about the area. These narrated tours start in downtown and stop at many points of interest along the way. The Grand Hotel’s concierge desk will help you personalize your route and even point out places on the island that are unseen by many. With an endless possibility of routes, adventure awaits you on Mackinac Island!

Chateau Grand TraverseChateau Grand Traverse

The tasting room at Chateau Grand Traverse invites you to check out their award-winning wines and enjoy their breathtaking views! Complimentary tours of the facilities are offered along with an overview of the history of the Northern Michigan wine industry. Your guide will teach you about the winemaking process from harvest to bottling. Don’t miss the chance to check out Chateau Grand Traverse’s wine making process and the amazing view that brought them there over 40 years ago.

Leelanau Adventures

Leelanau Adventures offers awesome guided tours and overnight stays at various locations. Have you ever wanted to experience Sleeping Bear Dunes or Manitou Island with a tour guide that will show you the best kept secrets? Look no further! You can choose between guided backpacking day trips or overnight stays with everything you need provided to you. Learn what it takes to survive in one of West Michigan’s most treasured locales. Trips run from June to September so check back next year to book your adventure!

Point Betsie LighthousePoint Betsie Lighthouse

Marking the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage, Point Betsie Lighthouse stands as one of Benzie County’s most famous landmarks. The lighthouse was built in 1857 and had significant restoration work done in 2006. Their tours give the public the chance to see the lighthouse up close and personal. You can even climb the tower! Tours run from May until October so make sure to check it out when they reopen it next year.

Boldly Go Where No Orchestra Has Gone Before

Star Trek Live in ConcertIn 2009, acclaimed director J.J. Abrams re-envisioned and re-invigorated the Star Trek franchise with a brilliantly casted ensemble, stunning visual effects and action-packed plot. Michael Giacchino’s thrilling, Grammy-nominated musical score contributed in no small part to the film’s success

At “Star Trek: Live in Concert,” the Grand Rapids Symphony orchestra will perform Giacchino’s score as “Star Trek” (2009) is screened simultaneously in high definition. Audiences will experience the film in true surround sound as they are transported into the futuristic world of Captain Kirk, Spock and the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew. This Nestlé Gerber SymphonicBoom series concert is a highly anticipated, one-night only performance on Saturday, October 17, 8:00 p.m. at DeVos Performance Hall.

Grand Rapids SymphonyThe orchestra will be led by Constantine Kitsopoulus, who has made a name for himself conducting in the worlds of opera, musical theater and symphony. Kitsopoulus is currently in his eighth year as Music Director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and continues as General Director of Chatham Opera, which he founded in 2005.

“Star Trek: Live in Concert” is being presented in collaboration with Grand Rapids Comic-Con, a comics and popular arts convention to be held at DeVos Place October 16 – 18. Fun, family- friendly activities will surround “Star Trek: Live in Concert” in DeVos Performance Hall, including a space-themed photo booth and cocktails in the Keeler Lobby. Social media posts from audience members using the #grsymphony hashtag will be shared on hall screens.

Tickets start at $32 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by calling 616-454-9451. Other ways to purchase tickets as follows:

• By phone in the evenings and on Saturday by calling 616-885-1241
• At the DeVos Place Box Office, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Through Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787
• Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and Walmart
• Online at GRSymphony.org
• On the day of the concert at the DeVos Place Box Office beginning two hours before showtime