Music Director Marcelo Lehninger returns for ‘Mozart, Mahler & Marcelo’ with Grand Rapids Symphony

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

GRAND RAPIDS, MI., Jan 19, 2017 – For centuries, the musical capital of the world was Vienna.

That’s where Beethoven and Brahms debuted music that would go down in history and where Schubert toiled in relative obscurity, discovered only after his death. It’s where Strauss family gave the Viennese reason to learn the waltz, and it’s where Arnold Schoenberg and his followers would turn the musical world upside down in the middle of the 20th century.

It’s the city that made Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart famous and where Gustav Mahler enjoyed his final creative period. Though neither were born there, both died in the Imperial City.

Grand Rapids Symphony performs music by both in a program titled “Mozart, Mahler & Marcelo” under the leadership of Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, himself a native of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Lehninger will lead the sixth concerts of the 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, February 3-4, in DeVos Performance Hall. Zhang Financial is the Concert Sponsor. Guest artist sponsor is the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.

Lehninger, in his first season as music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, returns for the third of his four appearances with the orchestra during his transitional season of 2016-17.

Guest pianist Andrew von Oeyen, a 1999 Gilmore Young Artist of Kalamazoo’s Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, returns to Grand Rapids as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major.

Andrew Von Oeyen, since his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has carved out a brilliant career. This season he’s touring Europe and North America with the Prague Philharmonia and appearing with the Vancouver Symphony, the Jerusalem Symphony and Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra among others.

In 2009, Von Oeyen performed at the U.S. Capitol with the National Symphony in A Capital Fourth, viewed by millions all over the globe in the award winning, live PBS television event. In October 2011, he appeared in Grand Rapids with violinist Sarah Chang, who was St. Cecilia Music Center’s Great Artist that year.

Mozart’s G major piano concerto is just one of six that the composer wrote during the productive and successful year of 1784 during his wife, Constanze, gave birth to their son Karl Thomas.

Though Mozart usually wrote piano concertos for himself to play, it’s likely this one was debuted by one of his students, Barbara Ployer. One enduring tale of this sunny work is that the finale of the three-movement work uses a melody that Mozart transcribed from a song sung by his pet starling.

Mahler, one of the greatest orchestra conductors in the history of music, was less known in his day as a composer. His first four symphonies, inspired by a collection of folk verse titled Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth’s Magic Horn) published in the first decade of the 19th century, all extol love, children, soldiers and the wandering life.

With his Symphony No. 5, composed in 1902, Mahler was ready to break new ground. His Fifth Symphony and the two that followed would grow in length and scope, exploring a deepening sense of a near-mystical, ideal future as conceived by a 19th mind, though the 20th century had other ideas.

Mahler’s Fifth Symphony includes the single, most famous movement in all of his works. The fourth movement, an Adagietto, scored only for strings and harps, was composed as a love letter from Mahler to his wife, Alma. Its melody has been used in many movie soundtracks including Rules Don’t Apply (2016) directed by Warren Beatty; Timecode (2000) starring Jeanne Tripplehorn and Salma Hayek; and Death in Brunswick (1990) starring Sam Neill.

After its premiere, Mahler reportedly said, “Nobody understood it. I wish I could conduct the first performance 50 years after my death.’

Yet eminent conductor Herbert von Karajan insisted that to hear Mahler’s Fifth is to forget that time has passed. “A great performance of the Fifth is a transforming experience,” Von Karajan said. “The fantastic finale almost forces you to hold your breath.”

  • 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 Mozart, Mahler & Marcelo program will be rebroadcast on April 23, 2017, at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.


Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS box 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 ticket 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

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.