Hundreds of musicians, hundreds of years of music in Grand Rapids Symphony's "A Choral Celebration"

Media Contact:
Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
Grand Rapids Symphony
616.454.9451 x 139

GRAND RAPIDS, MI., February 18, 2016 – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, not to mention Mozart, Mendelssohn and Mahler, all wrote music for religious services or at least set to religious texts.

The same still is true today.   

Grand Rapids Symphony presents “A Choral Celebration” of music featuring the adult Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus in two performances on March 5, 2016, in the beautiful surroundings of the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Grand Rapids.   

It’s the first of two programs in the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Sacred Dimensions Series during the 2015-16 season.   

Pearl Shangkuan, conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Sean Ivory, conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus; and Jackie Sonderfan Schoon, conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony Junior Chorus, will collaborate to lead the programs at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Cathedral of St. Andrew, 301 Sheldon Ave SE.   

Music spans several centuries, ranging from traditional melodies and work by unknown composers, to great works of choral literature by G.F. Handel including his Coronation Anthems “Zadok the Priest” and “The King Shall Rejoice.”   

 Contemporary music features emerging composers including Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo  

Composers living in Grand Rapids or with Grand Rapids connections will be well represented. The programs include “Hope for Resolution: A Song for Mandela and DeKlerk” by Ivory with Paul Caldwell, a choral music director and composer formerly based in Grand Rapids.   

A contemporary setting of Ave Maris Stella by Mark Thomas, who served as director of music at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in the 1990s, will be performed along with an arrangement of Gustav Holst’s “O God Beyond All Praising” by Nick Palmer, current director of music at the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.   

Grand Rapids Symphony inaugurated its Sacred Dimensions series in 2011 to take music out of the concert hall and perform it in its authentic setting. Past concerts in the series have been held in houses of worship including Temple Emanuel synagogue in Grand Rapids and Christ Memorial Church in Holland.   


Tickets are $22 for general admission seats and are available at the Grand Rapids 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 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 day of the concert by enrolling in the Symphony’s Student Passport program. 

 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 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.