Grand Rapids Symphony unveils 2016-17 season

Music has the extraordinary power to transform lives, touch hearts and change the world around us.

Jazz was born in America, but songwriter George Gershwin was first to bring it to the concert hall. His Rhapsody in Blue, an overnight sensation at its premiere in 1924, drew worldwide attention to America’s emerging art form.

Pianist Joyce Yang

A decade later, Russian-born Sergei Rachmaninoff, now living in the United States, wrote his final piece for piano and orchestra. Years later, a melody from his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini inspired Christopher Reeve to travel back to 1912 and fall in love with Jayne Seymour in the 1980 movie, Somewhere in Time, which was filmed on Mackinac Island. 

The horrors of World War I moved a middle-aged, British ambulance driver named Ralph Vaughan Williams to compose Dona Nobis Pacem – “Grant Us Peace” – for chorus and orchestra. The brutality of life in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, which thawed after the dictator’s death in 1953, inspired Dmitri Shostakovich to compose a mocking depiction of Stalin in his Symphony No. 10.

To Gustav Mahler, to compose a symphony was to create a world. In the Adagietto in his Fifth Symphony, Mahler penned an intimate love letter in music to his wife Alma, who was his world.

Music is powerful on its own, but never more so than when it’s played by the 80-plus extraordinary musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Your Grand Rapids Symphony promises a year’s worth of powerful moments ahead in its 2016-17 season opening in September.

All-time orchestral favorites including Gershwin’s wildly popular Rhapsody in Blue, Beethoven’s history-making Eroica Symphony No. 3, and Mussorgsky’s evocative and entertaining Pictures at an Exhibition are part of the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series.

The Grand Rapids Pops delves into the music of The Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel and Elton John in its upcoming Fox Motors Pops Series.

Violinst Stefan Jackiw

Season tickets now are on sale. Brand new for the 2016-17 season are subscriptions available at a discount of up to 50 percent off select series and seats for new package orders. Visit the GRS ticket office at 300 Ottawa NW Suite 100, just across the street from Calder Plaza downtown, or call (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. In the evening or on Saturday, call (616) 885-1241 for prompt attention.

Grand Rapids Symphony’s Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series will pave the way for the arrival of its next music director with a season of musical masterpieces by Ravel, Dvorak, Mahler and Prokofiev, organized by Music Advisor Larry Rachleff.

Guest soloists include such rising stars as pianist Joyce Yang as well as the eminent pianist Ralph Votapek, the first gold medalist of the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Your Grand Rapids Symphony will welcome its 14th music director to DeVos Performance Hall for a program to be announced later. But two recent guest conductors, Marcello Lehninger from Brazil and Rune Bergmann from Norway will be part of the 10-concert Classical Series.

The all-volunteer Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus joins the orchestra twice with modern classics for chorus and orchestra including Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem” and Leonard Bernstein’s’ Chichester Psalms plus Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.

’Shrek’ from Dreamworks Animation in Concert

The Grand Rapids Pops celebrates the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love” and the release in 1967 of the Fab Four’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a seminal album that changed the course of recorded music history.

You know vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway as the voice singing the theme from TV’s The Nanny. Not everyone knows the singer and songwriter also wrote the theme song for the sitcom starring Fran Drescher.

What’s more, Callaway became Cole Porter’s final musical collaborator when a previously unknown lyric by Porter was discovered after his death, and the Porter estate granted Callaway the opportunity to write the music for their song, I Gaze in Your Eyes.

Callaway returns to Grand Rapids for a musical salute to Barbra Streisand, featuring songs such as At the Same Time, which Callaway wrote especially for Babs to sing.

The Grand Rapids Pops season promises cinematic thrills sure to please with Dreamworks Animation in Concert, a visual and musical, 20th anniversary salute to the studio that created Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon. A full-length screening of the heartwarming film, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, follows with its memorable score by John Williams, the five-time Oscar-winning film composer whose music will be featured by the Grand Rapids Pops yet this season on May 6-8.

Classical Mystery Tour

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s Crowe Horwath Great Eras Series, held in the elegant surroundings of St. Cecilia Music Center’s Royce Auditorium, will take a tour through the musical eras of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic, each of the three concerts devoted to the music of one era.

Guest soloists will include a Young Artist laureate of Kalamazoo’s Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival for the Romantic Concert and Grand Rapids Symphony’s principal and assistant principal French hornists, Richard Britsch and Erich Peterson.

Highlights of each program make up the three-concert Porter Hills Coffee Classics, held mornings in St. Cecilia Music Center.

The Grand Rapids Bach Festival, West Michigan’s 11th biennial celebration of the music of J.S., returns for a week of events under the leadership of its own music director, David Lockington, music director laureate of the Grand Rapids Symphony.

The Christmas season wouldn’t be complete without holiday cheer from the Grand Rapids Symphony. Celebrate the season with the traditional Holiday Pops or with the return of Cirque de la Symphonie’s colorful Cirque de Noël on the Nestlé Gerber SymphonicBOOM Series.

Your Grand Rapids Symphony has plenty of opportunities next season to experience the power of great music as well as many money-saving opportunities to share the experience.

Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at 7:00 AM

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