Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director Laureate David Lockington returns to DeVos Hall

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Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
Senior Manager of Communications and Media Relations
616.454.9451 ext. 139

GRAND RAPIDS, MI., Nov. 2, 2016 – When you’re a performing artist, neither applause nor a paycheck is as rewarding as an invitation to return for another engagement.

David Lockington, who stepped down from his post as Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony at the end of the 2014-15 season, makes his first return to the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series with two works of music composed as a return invitation, one of them a world premiere.

Now Music Director Laureate, Lockington will lead the fourth concerts of the 2016-17 Classical series at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 18-19, in DeVos Performance Hall.

The program titled “Lockington Conducts Dvořák” includes Antonin Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 in D major, a work that the eminent conductor Hans Richter commissioned from Dvořák after Richter and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performed Dvořák’s Slavonic Rhapsody No. 3 to great acclaim in 1879.

The concerts also include a world premiere by composer Jeremy Crosmer, who is assistant principal cellist of the Grand Rapids Symphony. His second original composition for the orchestra, inspired by a painting by the celebrated Grand Rapids painter Mathias Alten, is titled “Gathering Sunset.”

The Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, directed by Pearl Shangkuan, joins the orchestra for Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, a work for soloists, chorus and orchestra. Composed in 1936 as the rise of Nazism in Germany threatened to plunge Europe into war, it reflects back on the devastation of World War I, which Vaughan Williams’ experienced first-hand as an ambulance driver.

Lockington, appointed music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony in January 1999, led the Grand Rapids Symphony through 16 seasons, including a performance in historic Detroit Orchestra Hall during the inaugural season of the new Max M. Fisher Center in 2003; a debut in New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 2005 at the conclusion of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 75th anniversary season; and a CD and DVD, Invention & Alchemy, with jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant, that garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2006.

Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6, completed in 1880, is inspired by music of Dvořák’s native region of Bohemia with a third-movement scherzo cast in the form of a fast, Czech folk dance called a Furiant. But the whole of the symphony, intended for a Viennese audience, follows the familiar symphonic format used by Dvořák’s friend and mentor, Johannes Brahms.

For reasons unclear, the Vienna Philharmonic didn’t give the premiere. An orchestra in Prague had the honor in 1881, debuting the work that led to greater recognition of Dvořák as a major composer. Hans Richter eventually conducted Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 in London. The Vienna Philharmonic did not perform it until 1942.

Mathias Alten, a German-born artist who 17 years old when he came to the United States with his family in 1889, had a flourishing career as an artist. By the time of his death in 1938 in Grand Rapids, he was referred to as the “dean of Michigan painters.”

Jeremy Crosmer, who joined the Grand Rapids Symphony in September 2012, was inspired by Alten’s painting “Gathering Pumpkins at Sunset,” depicting farmers harvesting crops late in the day and late in the fall season. The 1907 painting is in the George and Barbara Gordon Gallery at Grand Valley State University downtown.

George H. and Barbara Gordon also are the commissioning sponsors for “Gathering Sunset.”

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem uses texts from the Roman Catholic Latin Mass interspersed with the poetry of Walt Whitman along with excerpts from a political speech decrying war and versus from the Bible.

Soprano Carrie Hennessey and baritone Leon Williams, both of whom have appeared previously with the Grand Rapids Symphony, return as guest soloists along with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus.

James L. and Ginger Jurries are the Leon Williams Guest Artist Sponsor. Guest artist sponsor for the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series is the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.

Lockington, the longest-serving Music Director in the history of the Grand Rapids Symphony as well as a Grand Rapids resident, was named Grand Rapids Symphony’s first Music Director Laureate in 2015. The title typically is bestowed on departing music directors who have had a long-term, transformational relationship with an orchestra and who will continue to be associated with the organization in the future.

  • Upbeat, a free, pre-concert, multi-media presentation will be held before each performance at 7 p.m. in the DeVos Place Recital Hall. Upbeat is sponsored by BDO USA.

  • The Grand Rapids Symphony this season has introduced a special cocktail for its audiences in DeVos Performance Hall. At every concert in the 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series, try a “Spirit of the Symphony,” also called a French 75.

  • The complete Lockington Conducts Dvořák program will be rebroadcast on April 2, 2017, at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.

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Tickets

Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm, at 300 Ottawa Ave. 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. - 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.  Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony

Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, 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 given each year, touching 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 Classical Orchestra; and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. GRS provides the orchestra for performances by Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet and sponsors the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival, which returns in March 2017.

To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit the website or

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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.

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