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The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has honored the Grand Rapids Symphony with its 2018 Non-Profit Champion Award for service to West Michigan’s Latino community.
The award was presented Thursday, March 21 at the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual Gala de Premios held at the JW Marriott. WOOD TV8’s Eva Aguirre Cooper served as emcee.
The award is given to an individual in the nonprofit sector or to a not-for-profit organization that has made a positive contribution to the Hispanic business community in West Michigan through business, entrepreneurial initiatives, education or professional growth.
Selected from a field of 10 individuals or organizations, the Grand Rapids Symphony was honored for its Gateway to Music, a network of 17 programs and access points for people of all ages to engage with live orchestral music.
“We were thrilled with this recognition, which confirms that our diversity and inclusion work in the Hispanic community is valued,” said Peter M. Perez, Grand Rapids Symphony President and CEO.
Grand Rapids Symphony’s Board of Directors Chairperson Chuck Frayer along with Vice President for Development Diane Lobbestael and Vice President for Marketing and Communications Denise Lubey attended the ceremony along with Perez.
Each award included an original work of art. The plaque given to the Grand Rapids Symphony depicted a saxophone, a keyboard, a double bass, a guitar and musicians, all in a colorful setting.
Gateway to Music, which services more than 86,000 people per year across 11 West Michigan counties, includes such programs as Symphony Scorecard, which provides concert tickets at no charge for people who receive financial assistance from the State of Michigan or who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active, reserve or guard duty. A related program, Free For Families, provides two complimentary tickets for children ages 7 to 18 in conjunction with one adult ticket purchased.
Gateway to Music, which partners with 230 schools in the region, also includes such educational programs as the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Fifth Grade Concerts. The West Michigan tradition dating back to 1944 brings up to 15,000 students to DeVos Performance Hall for a live orchestra concert tailored especially for elementary school-age students.
Gateway to Music includes the Mosaic Scholar program, which offers a music education to Hispanic and African-American teenagers. Students ages 12-18 receive free use of a musical instrument, free one-on-one private lessons with a professional GRS musician, free concert tickets along with music and other supplies through the Mosaic Scholarship.Grand Rapids Symphony’s efforts to serve West Michigan’s Latino community included an appearance by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán last August with the Grand Rapids Symphony for its D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops Series. Coming this season to Cannonsburg Ski Area will be a concert featuring percussionist Tito Puente Jr., son of legendary percussionist and composer Tito Puente, for an evening of mambo, merengue and more along with the Grand Rapids Symphony.
The Grand Rapids Symphony, led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, present nine concert series each season, offering a wide variety of music and musical styles. More than 400 performances a year touch the lives of some 200,000, nearly half of whom are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities all reached through extensive education and community service programs.
Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses, and the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival, which was held in March 2017 and returns in March 2019.
Grand Rapids Symphony also supplies the live orchestral music for performances by Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet in DeVos Performance Hall.