A Celebration of Nature and Dance in “Beethoven’s Pastoral,” Jan. 8 & 9

Media Contact:
Samara Napolitan
Grand Rapids Symphony
616.454.9451 x 110

The Grand Rapids Symphony will explore the intersection of nature and dance this upcoming January at “Beethoven’s Pastoral,” Friday, January 8 and Saturday, January 9, 8:00 p.m. at DeVos Performance Hall. The concert showcases the creativity of dancing as the music of three composers use dance to move our hearts and our feet. Beethoven’s most genial symphony, his “Pastoral,” will be accompanied by a charming Spanish concerto, performed by one of the world’s leading classical guitarists, Pablo Villegas. An energetic contemporary dance piece by Mexican composer Arturo Márquez will also be featured. Music Director Candidate and current Music Director of the Amarillo Symphony Jacomo Bairos will lead the orchestra. “Beethoven’s Pastoral” is part of the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series. The Guest Artist Sponsor for the concert is the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.

The concert begins with Beethoven’s masterpiece, “Symphony No. 6, ‘Pastoral.’” Unlike his Fifth Symphony—an epic musical journey about man’s triumph over fate—Beethoven’s Sixth omits drama and tension. Instead, it is a gentle and happy ode to the composer’s love of nature. Listening to the first and second movements of the work, one can imagine Beethoven during his one of his routine walks through the Viennese countryside, admiring the picturesque charm of the scenery and choruses of birds. After a merry folk dance in the third movement, Beethoven’s tempestuous personality makes a brief appearance in the fourth movement, “Thunderstorm,” before the happy music returns to conclude the piece. 

Next on the program is the zesty, dance-filled concerto “Fantasia para un Gentilhombre” or “Fantasy for a Gentleman.” The piece is based entirely on dances by the baroque composer Gaspar Sanz, and mixes the melodies with colorful orchestrations. The great modern guitar virtuoso Andrés Segovia both inspired and performed the piece written by Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo. It is fitting that Pablo Villegas, considered to be the privileged successor of Segovia, should perform the piece with the Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Hall. 

The concert will conclude with “Danzón No. 2,” one of the most popular and frequently performed Mexican contemporary classical orchestral pieces. Originating in Cuba, the Danzón dance form is a very important part of the folklore of the Mexican state of Veracruz, where the composer received his inspiration while visiting a ballroom.

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. 

“Beethoven’s Pastoral” will be rebroadcast on Sunday, April 10 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 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 GRSymphony.org 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, nine 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 200,000. 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 GRSymphony.org.

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.