Sarah Chang, Harry Potter and Carnegie Hall all part of Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2017-18 season

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

GRAND RAPIDS, MI., Aug. 28, 2017 – More than 12 years ago, the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 75th anniversary season culminated with a trip to New York City and a concert in Carnegie Hall.

New York Times critic Bernard Holland, noting the enthusiastic reception for the orchestra in the 2,800-seat hall, began his review with, “The Grand Rapids Symphony came to Carnegie Hall on Saturday night and brought a good part of the city with it.”

The Grand Rapids Symphony, led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, will return to Carnegie Hall during the 2017-18 season opening in September. One week after the eminent Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire appears in DeVos Performance Hall as soloist in Manuel de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain and Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Mômoprecóce, the orchestra plus the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, will travel to New York City for the Grand Rapids Symphony’s second appearance in the world-famous concert hall on April 20, 2018.

Sarah Chang, Harry Potter and Carnegie Hall all play a major role in the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 88th season opening Sept. 15-16 with Chang, one of the world’s most famous violinists, performing one of her signature works, Suite from West Side Story for Violin and Orchestra, arranged for her by film composer David Newman from the original Broadway musical composed by Leonard Bernstein. Lehninger, conducting the Grand Rapids Symphony’s season-opener for the first time, will lead the orchestra in Ravel’s Bolero.

Grand Rapids Symphony’s Harry Potter Film Concert Series, which opened last January with three sold-out performances of the first Harry Potter film, returns this season with the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on Sept. 29-30; and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third film, on Feb. 9-10, 2018.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2017-18 season is filled with blockbusters including Verdi’s Requiem, Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben (or A Hero’s Life) and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony plus Holst’s The Planets, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony No. 41, and an all-Tchaikovsky program featuring Venezuelan pianist Gabriella Montero as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Along with Freire and Chang, Montero is a close personal friend and colleague of Lehninger’s, who will conduct eight of 10 classical concerts in DeVos Hall. All three, plus GRS Principal Flutist Christopher Kantner, are among the world-class soloists who will grace the Grand Rapids Symphony’s stage on the 10-concert Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series.

The six-concert Fox Motors Pops series, which opens with a salute to the music of Fleetwood Mac by the rock group Landslide, continues with a full-length screening of An American in Paris starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the 1951 film powered by live musical accompaniment.

Back by popular demand, the series led by Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt celebrates the music of one of the greatest film composers in history with Star Wars’ and More: The Music of John Williams. Grand Rapids Pops2017-18 season includes a special appearance by Second City comedy troupe during LaughFest 2018 and an evening of Broadway blockbusters with songs from shows including Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, The Sound of Music, Chicago, A Chorus Line, and Cats.

At St. Cecilia Music Center, the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Crowe Horwath Great Eras series will expand from three concerts to four, celebrating the music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic Eras, now joined by music of the 20th Century and beyond. Principal Second Violinist Eric Tanner and Principal Trumpeter Charley Lea will be featured on the series. Highlights of each evening’s concert will be performed in the morning for the Porter Hills Coffee Classics series, a one-hour program, held without intermission.

The 2017-18 Gerber SymphonicBoom series returns with a pair of all-time favorite shows in DeVos Performance Hall. The two-concert series welcomes back the perennially popular holiday show Old National Bank Cirque de Noël in December followed by the return of Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions in January.    

In addition to the eighth annual Cirque de Noël in late December, the holiday season features the return of The Snowman, a screening of the classic animated special plus Howard Blake’s musical score played live by the Grand Rapids Symphony for the DTE Energy Foundation Family Series in November. In early December, the popular Wolverine World Wide Holiday Pops, featuring the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and Grand Rapids Youth Choruses, welcomes back baritone Leon Williams and Grand Rapids’ own Embellish Handbell Choir for a seasonal celebration.

Composer Jeremy Crosmer, who served for five years as GRS Assistant Principal Cellist, premieres Ozark Traveler a new, 10-minute piece commissioned by the orchestra to open the season. Composer Alexander Miller, who is Assistant Principal Oboist, is writing a new work to close the season in May 2018.

Norwegian conductor Rune Bergmann, who has guest conducted the Grand Rapids Symphony twice in the past, returns in October for Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 plus Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer.

David Lockington, Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director Laureate, returns to lead the orchestra in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 4. The English-born conductor’s wife, violinist Dylana Jenson, will be soloist in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

Pianist Rafał Blechacz, the sole winner of all five First Prizes at the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition, held in 2005 in Warsaw, the only pianist ever to win all five prizes, will be soloist in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The Polish pianist also is the 2014 Gilmore Artist of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo.


Single tickets are on sale, and season subscriptions are available as well offering discounts of up to 50 percent off select series and seats for new package orders.

Ticket-buying opportunities also include Create Your Own, offering a low ticket price on four programs when you buy all four together; and Flexpass, offering a package of six, eight or 10 vouchers that can be used in any combination on any of 19 programs across three Grand Rapids Symphony series.

Tickets 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.)

Go online to for complete details about the 2017-18 Grand Rapids Symphony season as well as ticket-buying opportunities.

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.