Tag Archives: Marcelo Lehninger

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.


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.)

GR Symphony, conductor Lehninger to take tour of historic Mussgorsky’s ‘Pictures’

Grand Rapids Symphony, conducted by Marcelo Lehninger, will present “Pictures at an Exhibition” next week. (Supplied/Stu Rosner)


By K.D. Norris



Marcelo Lehninger, in his first full year as Grand Rapids Symphony’s Musical Director, has a long history with Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” — ranging from hearing it in its original piano solo form as a youth, to it being on his debut program at the famous Tanglewood Festival, to his now conducting it on both sides of the Atlantic in the span of a month.


But as he prepares to bring Maurice Ravel’s orchestrated version of the work to Grand Rapids’ DeVos Performance Hall on Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, he admits to having only a cursory knowledge of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s progressive-rock, synthesizer-driven version.


And who is to blame him? He was raised in Brazil, surrounded by classical and Latin music — his father is German violinist Erich Lehninger and mother Brazilian pianist Sonia Goulart — and he was born in 1979, eight years after EL&P’s vinyl version debuted.


“I first heard the piece on its original piano solo version, and I felt in love with it,” Lehninger said in a email interview this week. “I’ve conducted many times — in fact I just conducted it in Europe (Slovenia) where I am right now. It was also on my debut program in Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony.”


The cover of Emerson, Lake and Palmers vinyl recording to “Pictures at an Exhibition”.

And, despite his only passing familiarity with the rock variation, he is all for even old rockers giving Ravel’s version a listen.


“I heard about the ELP version, but never got familiar with it,” he said. “In any case, we will rock with ‘Pictures’ next week in Grand Rapids!”


Ravel’s version, with its virtuoso violin work required, is the most “colorful” of all the versions, Lehninger believes, despite the fact that he studied both violin and piano early in his career.


“I definitely have an affinity for both violin and piano, not only because I studied these instruments, but because I grew up listening to them,” he said. “However, one instrument was never enough for me. I loved playing the violin and piano, but I needed more colors, more sounds; therefore I exchanged the 88 keys of the piano for 88 musicians in the orchestra.


“I believe that many composers that orchestrated the piece felt exactly how I felt playing just one instrument. This is a piece with so many sounds and colors possibilities, somehow the piano alone doesn’t achieve that. Therefore many composers orchestrated the piece. Although Ravel’s orchestration is criticized for not ‘sounding Russian enough’, it is my favorite orchestration of the piece. Ravel was a master of orchestration and with ‘Pictures’ he explores all the sound palette of the orchestra. I have to confess that I like Ravel’s version much better than the original piano solo version.”


In addition to “Pictures at an Exhibition”, also on the symphony’s upcoming program are Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major with guest soloist Stefan Jackiw, as well as Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and “John Corigliano’s Promenade Overture from 1981.


Violinist Stefan Jackiw. (Supplied)

Jackiw’s career has included performing at the grand opening of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall alongside pianist Emanuel Ax, soprano Renée Fleming and conductor James Levine. He may be best known to younger audiences for his performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Australia’s Sydney Opera house, seen live on YouTube by more than 30 million people worldwide.


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


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