Grand Rapids Symphony plays Baroque-era music of 'Charlie's Angels' in Grand Rapids and Holland

It’s good to be the king, Charles II of England must have thought over and over.

It wasn’t so good for his father in 17th century England. King Charles I was deposed and beheaded and Oliver Cromwell took power as Lord Protector until Cromwell’s death ended the military dictatorship, and Parliament restored the monarchy.

But 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” loved good times and good music and encouraged the development of English composers.

Grand Rapids Symphony performs music from the court of King Charles II for The Baroque Concert: Charlie’s Angels on Friday and Saturday.

“We aren’t playing the music of the 1970s TV show or the movies,” said Garry Clarke, a British conductor, violinist and early music specialist.

The Grand Rapids Symphony, however, is performing music from the Restoration Era of King Charles II, who was fond of French music and who was long suspected of harboring Roman Catholic leanings.

“I figure they must have played like angels in the king’s private chambers,” Clarke said.

Clarke, former director of The Baroque Band, leads the Grand Rapids Symphony in the opening of the Crowe Horwath Great Eras series at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 20, in St. Cecilia Music Center, 24 Ransom Ave. NW. Tickets start at $26 adults, $5 students for the Great Eras concert.

Highlights of the evening concert will be given at 10 a.m. Friday 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. Tickets start at $16 for the Coffee Classics program.

On Saturday, the Grand Rapids Symphony returns to Holland with The Baroque Concert: Charlie’s Angels at 8 p.m. October 21, in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts at Hope College. Tickets, available at the door, start at $20 adults, $5 students.

For tickets or more information, call (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 or go online to

The Baroque Concert is the opening program of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2017-18 four-concert Crowe Horwath Great Eras series. Music Director Marcelo Lehninger leads the next three concerts, each focusing on a particular era in music. Upcoming concerts focus on the Romantic-era music of Dvorak and Tchaikovsky on Jan. 5, 2018; on the Classical-era works of Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart on Feb. 16; and on music of the 20th Century by Copland, Stravinsky and more on March 30. Season tickets are available.

Clarke, who teaches at Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, conducts the Grand Rapids Symphony in music English composers including John Blow, Henry Purcell and Matthew Locke. Blow taught Purcell, and Purcell succeeded Locke as composer in ordinary to King Charles II.

One of the first notable English composers in music history, Purcell landed his first job as composer for the court violin band called Twenty-Four Violins.

“The band didn’t actually have 24 violinists,” Clarke said. “That was the actual number of string players including violas and cellos.”

Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at 12:00
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