Category: reviews

Recap: Trombonist Ava Ordman returns to Grand Rapids Symphony for an exciting evening of music by women

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - Trombonist Ava Ordman is a pioneer’s pioneer. At age 19, still an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, she won the principal trombone position with the Grand Rapids Symphony in 1973 in an era when fewer women held principal positions in American orchestras and nearly none played brass instruments. Over 24 seasons through 1997, Ordman was a frequent soloist, performing Donald Erb’s Concerto for Trombone with the Grand Rapids Symphony and... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Monday, May 6, 2019

Recap: 'Tchaikovsky Festival's' Russian music warms American hearts in Grand Rapids Symphony's performance

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - ‘Tis the season for Russian music. For several weeks now, the snow and ice that has fallen had made West Michigan feel less like the Great Lake State and more like the Russian steppes. Mother Nature demands we embrace it, and so we shall. Music Director Marcelo Lehninger led the Grand Rapids Symphony and Symphony Chorus in Russian music to warm an American heart with two familiar works by Tchaikovsky and two largely unknown to orchestral audiences. ... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, February 9, 2019

Recap: Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Grand Rapids Symphony, deliver one of the greatest nights of music ever heard in DeVos Performance Hall

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - DeVos Performance Hall, since it opened in 1980s, has seen many great performances by the Grand Rapids Symphony . Friday’s concert featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet under Music Director Marcelo Lehninger surely will go down in history as one of its very best. Thibaudet, Lehninger and the Grand Rapids Symphony – plus a musical saw – together conquered Aram Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto, a crowd pleasing, folk-flavored work that’s... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, October 6, 2018

Recap: With John Pizzarelli, the Grand Rapids Symphony’s ‘McCartney and More’ is much, much more

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - John Pizzarelli does a wicked Paul McCartney impression from the mannerisms and cadence to the Liverpool accent. “If you’re going to do Paul McCartney, you’ve got to do Paul McCartney,” Pizzarelli explains. As good as it is, the singer and guitarist does an even better job playing McCartney’s music. The Grand Rapids Pops opened its 2018-19 Fox Motors Pops on Friday, Sept. 21, with “McCartney and More” ... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, September 22, 2018

Recap: Grand Rapids Pops and Mickey Thomas rock Cannonsburg with '80s Rewind'

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - When Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship first sang We Built This City in the 1980s, he was referring to rock 'n roll in San Francisco. When Thomas joined the Grand Rapids Pops for 80s Rewind, he was singing about orchestral pops as well as rock 'n roll for the community of West Michigan gathered at Canonsburg Ski Area. Either way, Thomas and the Grand Rapids Pops were a big hit for the second concert of the Grand Rapids Symphony's D&W Fresh... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Monday, July 23, 2018

Recap: Beethoven's mighty Ninth Symphony, plus world premiere, bring Grand Rapids Symphony's season to a thrilling conclusion

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - What does one say about Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? It’s one of the greatest achievements, not simply of classical music, but of all of Western civilization. The music, some of Beethoven’s best, stands on its own merits. The message that all of humanity is a brotherhood elevates it to a whole new level. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Leonard Bernstein led a performance on Christmas Day in East Berlin that may be the most... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, May 19, 2018

Recap: Grand Rapids Symphony, Symphony Chorus, is primed and ready for its return to Carnegie Hall

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - Nearly 13 years ago, the Grand Rapids Symphony traveled to New York City to make its Carnegie Hall debut, a major milestone in the history of the orchestra. Next week, Music Director Marcelo Lehninger leads the Grand Rapids Symphony plus the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus back to the Big Apple to make its debut on the international stage, another epic event in the 88-year history of the orchestra. Based on Friday’s exhilarating performance, the Grand... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, April 14, 2018

Recap: Marcelo Lehninger leads Grand Rapids Symphony in magnificent performance of 'Ein Heldenleben'

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - In symphony orchestra concerts, it’s usually the soloists and conductors who get the lion’s share of the glory. The virtuoso soloists are the aerialists, working without a net, flying high above the ground. The conductors are the ringmasters running the show and guiding the audience through the performance. But this week, with Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben , all the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony were putting their heads into... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, March 24, 2018

Recap: Second City skewers the symphony in hilarious Grand Rapids Pops show at LaughFest

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - Classical music is serious stuff. Bach, Beethoven and the rest of the boys tackled such matters as salvation of the soul and brotherhood of mankind in their music. Mahler, when he composed his symphonies, set out to compose an entire world. Mahler apparently had a side gig as well, writing jingles to sell blue jeans. If that never popped up in college music appreciate class, you’ll just have to take Second City’s word for it. Mind you, no one... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, March 17, 2018

Recap: Marcelo Lehninger era opens triumphantly with world premiere, world-class artist, wonderful music

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - The opening of the Marcelo Lehninger era began with a semi-standing ovation. When the maestro strode out on stage for his first season-opening concert with the Grand Rapids Symphony on Friday, the audience erupted with enthusiastic applause in DeVos Performance Hall. The only thing that stopped it from becoming a full standing ovation was the Brazilian-born conductor himself, eager to greet the audience and get on with what he was hired to do – make... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, September 16, 2017
We welcome and encourage comments. Please note that your comment will be sent to our team to be approved prior to posting. You may not see your comment post right away.