Category: Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series

Celebrated improviser Gabriela Montero takes requests, just like Mozart and Beethoven did

Once upon a time, celebrated pianist such as Mozart and Beethoven not only composed music for themselves to play, they also improvised on the spot at the concerts they gave. It was expected. Franz Liszt, possibly the greatest pianist who ever lived, would strike up melodies from the latest operas and embellish them to the delight of audience. But in the 19 th century, improvising at the keyboard began to fade into obscurity. Comparatively few, among them Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Recap: Marcelo Lehninger leads Grand Rapids Symphony and Chorus in glorious performance of Verdi's Requiem

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - Giuseppe Verdi wrote his Messa da Requiem in memory of a great man. As fate would have it, the Grand Rapids Symphony used it to bid farewell to a great woman on Friday. Philanthropist and arts lover Helen DeVos, who died in October , more than any single person, made the Grand Rapids Symphony what it is today. “I think it is safe to say that in the modern history of the Grand Rapids Symphony, no one has had a more profound effect on this orchestra... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, November 18, 2017

Grand Rapids Symphony’s cast of 275 musicians and more performs monumental Verdi’s Requiem, Nov. 17-18

You’ll find Giuseppe Verdi at the top of any list of all-time greatest opera composers. One of the best operas ever written by the composer Rigoletto, La Traviata, Aida usually is performed in a concert hall, though it calls for no costumes, make up or sets. Verdi’s Requiem, at first glance, seems like it was meant for the church. But his setting of Mass for the Dead according to the Roman Catholic Church is drama at its best. The musical tour de force includes some of... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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

Sarah Chang, one of world's greatest violinists, opens Grand Rapids Symphony's 2017-18 season

Violinist Sarah Chang is one of the greatest artists in classical music today. Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant followed by the Avery Fisher Prize in 1999, Chang became the youngest inductee to-date in Hollywood Bowl’s Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2005, Yale University dedicated a chair in Sprague Hall in Sarah Chang’s name. In 2012 Harvard University gave her the Distinguished Leadership in the Arts Award. The Korean-American musician, who has made 20 recordings for... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Recap: Greatest symphony of all time concludes great season for Grand Rapids Symphony

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - At its premiere in 1804, Beethoven’s epic “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 flung open the door and boldly strode into the 19 th century of Romantic music. For its debut in 1894, Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune gently drew open a curtain that offered a look at the music yet to come in the 20 th century. Both were the start of something big. Alas, for the Grand Rapids Symphony, both come at the end of... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ground-breaking music by Beethoven, Debussy, close Grand Rapids Symphony's 2016-17 season

Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of works of music have been composed across the history of music. Only a small portion lives on beyond the lives of their composers. An even smaller portion enters the ranks of great works of art. Very, very few are seminal works that alter the course of musical history, but the Grand Rapids Symphony closes its 2016-17 season with two pieces that changed everything that followed. Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 and... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Experience 'Beethoven & Bernstein' together with your Grand Rapids Symphony on April 21-22 in DeVos Hall

The Cold War finally was nearing an end. In 1989, after decades of oppression, the Berlin Wall cracked open and thousands of East Germans poured through the opening from communist-dominated East German into the West. In December, Leonard Bernstein, 71 years old and in failing health, traveled to Berlin to conduct a historic performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. In 10 months, the American conductor and composer would die of cancer. But not before conducting an international... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Tuesday, April 18, 2017

One of the top women on the podium, trailblazing conductor JoAnn Falletta conducts Grand Rapids Symphony in music by Ravel and Strauss

JoAnn Falletta wasn’t discouraged from pursuing a career as an orchestra conductor. But neither was the New York City native encouraged. Today, the two-time Grammy Award winner, who has conducted over 100 top orchestras throughout the world including the Grand Rapids Symphony , is one of the most important women on the podium. The music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic returns to DeVos Hall this week to lead the Grand Rapids Symphony in an orchestra suite from Richard... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Recap: Grand Rapids Symphony's final concert of season under Marcelo Lehninger is an adventurous look into the future

by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk - Imagine a day at an amusement park with wild rides, unusual sights, new experiences and surprises around every corner. That gives some insight into the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Classical series concerts “Pictures at an Exhibition” this weekend in DeVos Performance Hall. The park’s tour guide was music director Marcelo Lehninger. The special guest was violinist Stefan Jackiw, but the stalwart cast of colorful characters were the musicians... Read More
Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at Saturday, March 4, 2017
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