Category: reviews

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Recap: Dramatic flair, theatrical twist and electrifying finales cap Grand Rapids Symphony’s season

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk Dramatic flair, theatrical twist and electrifying finales cap Grand Rapids Symphony’s Classical season Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2015-16 season brought to town eight guest conductors and all of the excitement of its first search in the 21st century for a new music director. Surely, the Grand Rapids Symphony didn’t save the best for last. Or did they? Music Advisor Larry Rachleff, who is not a music director candidate, was on the podium to end the season with... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, May 14, 2016

Recap: Grand Rapids Symphony's "Star Wars & More" is a roller coaster ride to Christmas town

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk John Williams has written so much film music, it’s easy to forget just how much he’s written. Every “Star Wars” film, most of the “Harry Potter” movies, and the films starring Indiana Jones, just to name a few.  Now add such films as “Schindler’s List” and “Memoirs of a Geisha” to the list. Cue the iconic image of a young Macaulay Culkin, with his hands on the side of his face, looking surprised, in the film “Home Alone.” That’s totally relevant here... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, May 7, 2016

Recap: Guest conductor leads Grand Rapids Symphony in climatic experience with "Pines of Rome"

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk Utter the words, “20th century music,” and watch as faces of many unabashed lovers of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms turn to stone. Though classical music took some unusual turns into unknown waters in the last century, that wasn’t the case in all situations. So all we are saying is give 20th century music a chance. That’s what the Grand Rapids Symphony’s audience did on Friday night. DeVos Performance Hall erupted several times into enthusiastic cheers for music... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, April 23, 2016

Recap: Enthusiastic conductor, accomplished pianist produce art from adversity with Symphony

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk Trial and adversity sometimes produces great art.  Ludwig van Beethoven endured the loss of his hearing. Robert Schumann suffered the loss of his sanity and, eventually, his life. Both of their miseries lasted a lifetime. But the work the produced lasts forever.  Pianist Martin Helmchen, a German-born, prize-winning pianist, made his debut in DeVos Performance Hall on Friday, March 18, to give an insightful performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, March 19, 2016

Recap: GR Symphony celebrates music & diversity with Marcus Roberts Trio at "Symphony with Soul"

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk The night opened with a rousing chorus of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” with nearly everyone in the house standing to sing the 117-year-old song often referred to as the “Black American National Anthem.”  But that was just the beginning of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s annual “Symphony with Soul.”  The annual musical celebration of diversity and inclusion, which last year brought actress and singer Vanessa Williams to Grand Rapids, welcomed the Marcus... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Recap: Grand Rapids Symphony's wide-ranging program takes your breath away

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk The music of Johannes Brahms isn’t an appetizer. Brahms of the 1880s, the mature master of the German Romantic era at the height of his creative powers, is a main course, served on a silver platter on major holidays and important family gatherings. Under normal circumstances, the Grand Rapids Symphony wouldn’t begin a concert with a Brahms Symphony. Not unless it also was the end of the concert. But a music director search isn’t a normal circumstance, so ... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, February 20, 2016

Recap: Grand Rapids Pops gives heroic performance of “Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions”

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk DeVos Performance Hall seldom sees audiences like this. Concert-goers in unusual yellow hats pecked at handheld video games to pass the time before the start of the evening’s entertainment. Finally, a young woman in a white coat, standing in front of the Grand Rapids Symphony, faced the audience and said, "Grand Rapids, I choose you." With the audience roaring its approval, guest conductor Susie Benchasil Seiter gave the downbeat to kick off ... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, February 6, 2016

Review: Grand Rapids Symphony "Beams Up" Live Star Trek Performance

I was recently asked “Are you going to dress up as a Wookie?” and the question had nothing to do with the approach of Halloween, or the upcoming Star Wars movie. Rather, I was discussing plans for the weekend with a co-worked, and mentioned that I was going to the Grand Rapids Symphony to watch their performance of Star Trek. My co-worker is clearly someone who hasn’t settled on a side in the ongoing Star Wars vs Star Trek debate, and is sadly lost somewhere in the... Read More
Posted by Sam Napolitan at Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: Shakespeare's tales inspire exciting Grand Rapids Symphony season opener

The show must go on and so it did. The Grand Rapids Symphony is without a music director for the first time in the 21st century.  Several key chairs in the ensemble are vacant, and its musicians are continuing to work under a contract that expired on Sept. 1. But when the downbeat comes, all is forgotten, at least for a while. By: Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk Posted September 19, 2015 To read the full article, click  here .  Read More
Posted by Sam Napolitan at Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review: Five for Fighting serves slice of life, slice of 'American Pie' for Picnic Pops

Five for Fighting is fronted by a clever guy. John Ondrasik came to town with his hit songs including "Superman" and "100 Years" to play for the Grand Rapids Symphony's Picnic Pops. But the alternative-rock, piano-playing, singer-songwriter came with a little something extra up his sleeve. By: Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk Posted July 31, 2015 To read the full article, click  here .  Read More
Posted by Sam Napolitan at Friday, July 31, 2015
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