Grand Rapids Symphony’s Music Director Marcelo Lehninger grew up in Rio de Janeiro, listening to Samba, experiencing Carnival, and enjoying Brazilian treats such as pão de queijo.
Grand Rapids and West Michigan are a long way from home in the sixth-most populous metropolitan area in all of the Americas.
But thanks to radio, TV and the internet, you can see and hear the sounds of home anywhere in the world. And in West Michigan, you can get Brazilian cheese bread at Kalamazoo’s Brazilian Oven.
So Lehninger is “super excited” to be the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 14th music director.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said on Monday. “It’s a great orchestra; it’s a great organization to be a part of.”
Next summer, Marcelo Lehninger plans to move to Grand Rapids with his wife, Laura, and with their daughters, Sofia, who turns 5 in October, and Camila, who is one month old.
“A big thing for me will be to make friends, to get to know the community and to be a part of the community,” he said. “Any opportunity that I have to meet wonderful, new, interesting people, I’m very happy.”
West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is happy to lend a hand.
On Monday, the association that promotes Hispanic-owned business in Grand Rapids welcomed the former associate conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to Grand Rapids with a reception at the Chamber’s home at LINC Gallery, 341 Hall St. SE.
“We’re very excited to have Marcelo here as part of our community,” said Luis Avila, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This is going to be his new community. This is going to be where he lives, and where he works, and where he plays.
Representatives of Grand Rapids’ Latino community and members of the West Michigan media serving the Latino community dropped by to welcome to town Lehninger, who speaks Spanish, in addition to Portuguese and English.
“Part of the reason we wanted to introduce him to the Hispanic community, to our Hispanic leaders, is to make the Symphony friendlier to our Hispanic community,” said Avila, an attorney at Varnum LLP in Grand Rapids.
In June, Lehninger, 36, was appointed music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony. In October, he’ll make his debut as music director in DeVos Performance Hall, leading the orchestra in music by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff on Oct. 28-29.
He’ll be back in Grand Rapids to lead concerts in St. Cecilia Music Center in January as well as in DeVos Hall in February and in March 2017.
Avila said he hopes to see more of the Hispanic community experience Grand Rapids Symphony programs.
“I was just telling myself, I’m really excited about him being here, about him being the new face of the