Famed conductor JoAnn Falletta leads Grand Rapids Symphony in comical, classical French music

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

GRAND RAPIDS, MI., March 8, 2017 – Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

German composer Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier or “The Knight of the Rose,” won the hearts of opera fans for its lilting waltz melodies as well as its comical tale of forbidden love between a married woman and her much younger lover.

Inspired by Der Rosenkavalier, Maurice Ravel penned La Valse. Though originally conceived as a ballet, this favorite among concert audiences transforms the Viennese waltz into a vibrant French impressionistic work of art.

The Grand Rapids Symphony welcomes eminent guest conductor JoAnn Falletta and Italian pianist Fabio Bidini to Grand Rapids for the eighth concerts of the 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 24-25, in DeVos Performance Hall. George and Kerstin Trowbridge are the Concert Sponsor..

One of the finest conductors of her generation, who has led over 100 orchestras throughout the world, JoAnn Falletta serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

A classical guitarist by training, the New York native studied at Mannes College of Music in the mid-1970s, an era in which her teachers doubted a woman could gain a position as a music director of a professional orchestra. Falletta, who earned her master’s and doctoral degree from The Juilliard School of Music, studied under Semyon Bychkov, who served as Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director from 1980 to 1985.

Italian pianist Fabio Bidini joins Falletta and the Grand Rapids Symphony for Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major. Inspired by Ravel’s first visit to the United States, where the composer met George Gershwin in person, the concerto has hints of American jazz in it. Together, Bidini and Falletta previously have performed the Ravel Piano Concerto, which frequently is found on lists of the Top 10 or Top 20 piano concertos of all time. The Ravel concerto replaces the previously announced Piano Concerto No. 5 by Camille Saint-Saens.

One of the top-flight pianists of this generation, Bidini has appeared with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra at The Barbican and The Philharmonia Orchestra of London at Royal Festival Hall, the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra at Liszt Academy Hall, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony.

Bidini, the first person appointed to the Colburn Grigor Piano Chair at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, has been a top prize winner at eight international competitions including the 1993 Van Cliburn Piano Competition.

Grand Rapids Symphony also celebrates the creativity of one of its own musicians with an intriguing work by Alexander Miller, described by a local writer as, “Grand Rapids Symphony Assistant Principal Oboist by title, Composer-in-Residence by default.”

Scherzo Crypto, however, was commissioned and premiered by the San Antonio Symphony as part of its 75th anniversary season.  Miller composed this work to be a virtuoso showpiece for the orchestra and a puzzle for the listener. Hidden within it is the name of a musical instrument.

Guest artist sponsor is the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.

  • 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 Saint-Saens Piano Concerto program will be rebroadcast on May 21, 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 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.