Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director Candidate to lead “Ravel’s Piano Concerto,” Oct. 9 & 10

Media Contact:
Samara Napolitan
Grand Rapids Symphony
616.454.9451 x 110

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s first Music Director candidate of the 2015-2016 Season will lead the orchestra at “Ravel’s Piano Concerto,” Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10, 8:00 p.m. at DeVos Performance Hall. The first prize winner of the Evgeny Svetlanov International Conducting Competition in 2010, Andris Poga has established himself as a thoughtful and sensitive conductor. Poga will lead the orchestra in a colorful concert as a part of the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series. The guest artist for this concert is supported by the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.

“We are encouraged by the very high level of interest by exceptional conductors who are excited by the possibility of leading our superb orchestra," says Grand Rapids Symphony President and CEO Peter Kjome. "The Grand Rapids Symphony is delighted to welcome Andris Poga as he takes the podium as part of our Music Director Search.” 

A graduate—and now teacher—of the Paris Conservatory, Marc-André Dalbavie draws his inspiration from spectralism, an approach to music that emphasizes tone color—or timbre—over the standard building blocks of music like melody, rhythm and harmony. Impressionist composers like Debussy emphasized tone color as well, but long before computers assisted human understanding of the structure of sound. Rather than tell a story with music—like Tchaikovsky would—Dalbavie’s “Color” is more poetic and sculptural, beginning with an ethereal chord played by the strings and harp and ending with the orchestra winding down in total stasis. 

Next on the program is Ravel’s “Piano Concerto in G” performed by Swiss-Chinese pianist Louis Schwizgebel. Described as “already one of the great masters of the piano” by Res Musica, he won the Geneva International Music Competition at the age of 17, and, two years later, the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. With Ravel’s piece, Schwizgebel will dazzle with a solo cadenza in the first movement, with “blue notes” and jazzy rhythms throughout. 

To end the concert, Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 1” will give the audience a riot of Russian color. The piece was written when the composer was a conservatory student at the ripe age of 18. The premiere was conducted by Nicolai Malko (later the Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony from 1942-1947) and Shostakovich was immediately hailed as the first great composer of the new Soviet Russia. The influences of Shostakovich’s predecessors—Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky—are apparent. However, the composer’s trademark ironic voice and deep emotional pathos can be heard during the very first theme. 

Two exciting educational opportunities will accompany “Ravel’s Piano Concerto.” The Symphony is collaborating with West Michigan Piano on Monday, October 5 for a Backstage and Behind the Music class. Class members will explore how pianos work and gain a unique perspective on what it’s like to prepare a piece like Ravel’s piano concerto. Upbeat, a free pre-concert multi-media presentation, will be hosted in the Recital Hall before each performance at 7:00 p.m. Upbeat is sponsored by BDO USA. 

“Ravel’s Piano Concerto” is part of ArtPrize Tonight, a program designed to offer local and visiting ArtPrize participants a comprehensive, accessible rundown of evening events. ArtPrize volunteers, sponsors and artists are offered a 20% off discount to “Ravel’s Piano Concerto” tickets.

“Ravel’s Piano Concerto” will be rebroadcast on Sunday, March 13 at 1:00 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio, FM 88.9 or FM 90.3


Tickets start at $18 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa 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.) Tickets are available by phone in the evening and on Saturday by calling 616.885.1241. Tickets are available at the DeVos Place Box Office, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster, 800.982.2787, online at or in person at Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee. Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the Symphony’s Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony 

The Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Advisor Larry Rachleff, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, ten concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some 170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. The Symphony’s Affiliated Organizations include the Grand Rapids Bach Festival, Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. The Symphony also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony please visit

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.