Plenty of great music coming to Grand Rapids Symphony's stage in 2018-19

At the climax of the 2010 film “The King’s Speech,” King George VI overcomes the stutter he’s had since childhood to announce that Great Britain was at war with Nazi Germany.

As Colin Firth, who portrays King George, addresses the British people throughout the world, the gravitas of the moment is supplied by music from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in the film that won the Oscar for Best Picture.

The Grand Rapids Symphony performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 to open its 2018-19 season on Sept. 14-15 in DeVos Performance Hall.

“It’s such a wonderful way to start a season,” said Music Director Marcelo Lehninger. “Not only with Beethoven, but with that Beethoven Symphony.”

Karen Gomyo and her Stradivarius violin also will be on stage to perform Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Violin for the opening concerts of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series.

GR Symphony's 2018-19 season

The 2018-19 season includes Marcelo Lehninger leading such musical masterpieces as Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony No. 8, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s 89th season also features four full-length films with live music including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in February and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in March 2019.

Jazz guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli returns to Grand Rapids to open the Fox Motors Pops Series on Sept. 21-23 with McCartney and More, featuring songs of Paul McCartney.  Pizzarelli, who was St. Cecilia Music Center’s Great Artist in 2012, was personally invited by Sir Paul to perform and record McCartney’s post-Beatles music in the classic jazz style of the Great American Songbook. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt leads the concerts.

In September, the Grand Rapids Symphony returns to ArtPrize with new, cutting-edge music by four young composers all of whom are competing in the $500,000 exhibition and competition. Music by the four will be performed in nine free mini-concerts Sept. 28-29 at The Morton on Monroe Center during the annual event that turns downtown Grand Rapids into a strolling indoor/outdoor art gallery.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2018-19 season includes world-class stars such as cellist Andrei Ioniță, Gold Medalist at the International Tchaikovsky Competition, performing in an all-Tchaikovsky concert in February 2019.

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet  featured prominently in such film soundtracks as the 2005 film “Pride & Prejudice” starring Keira Knightly, comes to Grand Rapids in October for a concert that also features Rimsky-Korsakov’s popular Scheherazade.

Later in the season, Grand Rapids’ own Michelle DeYoung, a three-time Grammy Award winner who attended Calvin College, joins the singers from the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus for Mahler’s Symphony No. 3.

The Grand Rapids Pops concerts continue in November with songs made famous by Frank Sinatra starring pianist and singerTony DeSare. In January, trumpeter and singer Byron Stripling returns for a program of ragtime, blues and jazz including music made famous by Louis Armstrong.

The Gerber SymphonicBoom series opens in October with Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas with the full-length 1993 film plus live music led by Associate Conductor John Varineau. Grand Rapids Symphony’s principal oboist Ellen Sherman is soloist for The Baroque Concert – Bach and Beyond, which opens the PwC Great Eras Series and Porter Hills Coffee Classics series in October in both St. Cecilia Music Center and in Hope College’s Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts in Holland.

Four popular holiday programs include screenings of the award-winning animated short The Snowman and of Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin, both in November. In December, the Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops welcomes baritone Justin Hopkins and Embellish handbell ensemble for old favorites and holiday cheer. The acrobatic troupe Cirque de la Symphonie returns for its 10th anniversary performance of Cirque de Noël.

Special events in the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2018-19 season include the annual Symphony with Soul show with the hip-hop, classical crossover duo Black Violin in February 2019.

The biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival  returns in March 2019 for a week’s worth of music in churches and other venues in the city all under the leadership of conductor, organist and composer Julian Wachner, who will make his debut as Artistic Director.

Both season tickets and single tickets are available from the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 or online at

Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at 07:00
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