An ever-changing collection of classes, lectures, and one-of-a-kind experiences for orchestral music-lovers of all sorts!  Whether you have been an avid listener for years, or are just starting to explore the amazing world of orchestral music, these experiences are designed to bring you backstage and behind the music!  

Penny University sponsored by Kathy Vogelsang

The GRS Penny University

In the 17th and 18th Centuries, coffee houses earned the moniker of “Penny Universities”—local establishments where you could get a cup of great coffee and talk about topics ranging from arts and culture, to the political.  The GR Symphony is pleased to team up with Blue Lake Public Radio and the Kent District Library to offer programs for classical music lovers—whether you are new to the genre or have been an avid listener for years.  These casual presentations offer great opportunities to get behind the scenes of some of our best-loved music while enjoying a steaming cup of our favorite brew.

Reservations appreciated!      

An American in Paris: Gershwin's Europe

October 21, 2017
1 – 2:30 pm
Kent District Library, Cascade Branch
Presented by Foley Schuler, Blue Lake Public Radio
Cost: Free!


Drawing upon a near-lifelong fascination with George Gershwin, Blue Lake Public Radio’s Foley Schuler will take the American composer’s music as a point of departure for exploring another of his favorite themes—the relationship between classical music and what is thought by many to be America’s classical music—jazz—and trace the influence of this uniquely American art form on European composers of the 1920s and beyond, through a combination of anecdotes, analysis and musical excerpts.

Encouraged by creative parents, Foley began his music career at age 7.  As a Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp camper, he became Blue Lake Public Radio’s first high school intern.   Foley hosts Blue Lake Public Radio’s weekday 1:00-5:00pm Classical Music, and Sunday 9:30am-1:00pm “Sunday on Blue Lake” programs. As a musician, he has performed with the West Michigan Symphony, and has served on the English Department faculty at Muskegon Community College, and been the Music, Art & Theatre reviewer for the Muskegon Chronicle. 

Ralph, as in 'Rafe' - Fantasia on the Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams

February 17, 2018
1 – 2:30 pm
Kent District Library, Cascade Branch
Presented by Bonnie Bierma, Blue Lake Public Radio
Cost: Free!

Bonnie Bierma, long-time Blue Lake Public Radio host presents and overview of the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams including Williams' Symphony No. 4 which will be featured on the Grand Rapids Symphony Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Concert Prokofiev Violin Concerto concert on March 2-3.

Bonnie Bierma has been with Blue Lake Public Radio for 27 years. She is the Classical music director and CD librarian and also produces and hosts four hours of classical music weekday mornings, as well as the popular “Choral Traditions” on Sunday mornings. She is a freelance oboist, and played with the West Michigan Symphony for 20 years before retiring in 2012.