'Charlie's Angels,' music of Baroque, opens Grand Rapids Symphony's Great Eras series, Oct. 20-21

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Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
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GRAND RAPIDS, MI., October 9, 2017 – The 17th century in England was a time of turmoil. King Charles I was deposed and beheaded, Oliver Cromwell took power as Lord Protector until his death effectively ended the military dictatorship, and Parliament restored the monarchy.

With the coronation of King Charles II, one of the most popular and beloved kings in English history, music returned to court life, theaters reopened, and entertainment forbidden during Cromwell’s rule became a part of English life once again.

The “Merry Monarch,” who spent years in exile in France, brought French music back to London and encouraged the development of English music as well. In fact, if it hadn’t been for King Charlie and his secret love affair with Roman Catholicism, we might never have heard the music by such English composers as Henry Purcell, John Blow and Matthew Locke.

Grand Rapids Symphony opens its Crowe Horwath Great Eras series with The Baroque Concert: Charlie’s Angels at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 20, in St. Cecilia Music Center, 24 Ransom Ave. NW.

Highlights of the evening concert will be given at 10 a.m. that morning for The Baroque Coffee Concert, part of the Porter Hills Coffee Classics series, a one-hour program held without intermission. Doors open at 9 a.m. for complementary coffee and pastry.

The following day, the Grand Rapids Symphony returns to Holland with The Baroque Concert: Charlie’s Angels at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 21, in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts at Hope College.

English violinist and conductor Garry Clarke, formerly leader of the Baroque Band, conducts the Grand Rapids Symphony in music by Henry Purcell, Jean-Baptist Lully and others.

Garry Clarke, a member of the early music faculty of Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University,  has been recognized as one of the finest of the new generation of interpreters of baroque music both as a violinist and as a conductor. Time-Out Chicago calls him "an outstanding violinist” who “plays with real style and panache."

Works by English composers such as John Blow, whose student, Henry Purcell, came to the Court of King Charles II following the death of Purcell’s predecessor, Matthew Locke, as composer in ordinary to the king, will be featured on the program.

Purcell, one of the first notable English composers in music history, landed his first job as composer for the court violin band called Twenty-Four Violins. Chacony in G minor, written by Purcell, was one of the first pieces he wrote for the string band.

Blow’s Chaconne for string ensemble is based on a musical form similar to the fugue, which played an important role in the music of the baroque.

Locke, who served as composer-in-ordinary to the King, composed Theatre Suite to The Tempest as incidental music for an operatic version by playwright Thomas Shadwell of Shakespeare’s play of that title. With a dance-like beginning, Locke portrays the Shakespeare classic with lively instrumental motifs representing the sorcerer Prospero and the Duke of Milan hoping to restore his daughter Miranda to her “rightful place.”

Italian-born French composer Jean-Baptiste Lully was a man of many talents as a dancer and an instrumentalist as well as a composer, eventually gaining the attention of King Louis XIV. Lully’s Ballet Suite, a collection of works that Lully wrote during the early and middle Baroque era, were a part of a new genre of music known as “comedy-ballets,” with interludes between the ballets that might include storytelling, an instrumental soloist or even more dancing.

The complete The Baroque Concert: Charlie’s Angels program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, March 18, 2018, at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.


In Grand Rapids, tickets start at $26 for the Great Eras series and $16 for Coffee Classics 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 at the door on the day of the concert prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org

In Holland, tickets start at $20 or $5 for students. Tickets are available at the door at the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts beginning an hour and a half before the concert.

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 Tickets program.

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 2019.

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.