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Grand Rapids Symphony's exciting, new season will have you on the edge of your seat

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The Grand Rapids Symphony's 2016-17 opening Sept. 16-17 welcomes Harry Potter, E.T., MercyMe, Lalah Hathaway and new music director Marcelo Lehninger to town
Music Director Marcelo Lehninger conducts the Grand Rapids Symphony in four programs in 2016-17

Music Director Marcelo Lehninger conducts the Grand Rapids Symphony in four programs in 2016-17 /Terry Johnston | Grand Rapids Symphony

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See new Music Director Marcelo Lehninger in action at four concerts this season

  • Oct. 28-29 -- Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with violinist Philippe Quint in DeVos Performance Hall
  • Jan. 6 -- The Romantic Concert: Schumann & Brahms at St. Cecilia Music Center
  • Feb. 3-4 -- "Mozart, Mahler & Marcelo" with pianist Andrew von Oeyen
  • March 3-4 -- "Pictures at an Exhibition" with violinist Stefan Jackiw


Violinist Stefan Jackiw performs Erich Korngold's Violin Concerto with the Grand Rapids Symphony on March 3-4

Violinist Stefan Jackiw performs Erich Korngold's Violin Concerto with the Grand Rapids Symphony on March 3-4

Pianist Joyce Yang plays "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" with the Grand Rapids Symphony on Oct. 7-8

Pianist Joyce Yang plays "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" with the Grand Rapids Symphony on Oct. 7-8

The Grand Rapids Symphony will have you on the edge of your seat in anticipation over the arrival of its new Music Director Marcelo Lehninger.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2016-17 season gets underway today with George Gershwin’s wildly popular Rhapsody in Blue. Pianist Ralph Votapek, Gold Medalist of the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1962, is soloist in his fifth appearance with the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Associate conductor John Varineau leads the orchestra on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16-17, in music from Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring among other works in DeVos Performance Hall.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series is full of classical blockbusters including Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5.

Lehninger, appointed Music Director in June, will lead the Grand Rapids Symphony in four programs this season beginning on Oct. 28-29 with Tchaikovsky’s famous Violin Concerto featuring Philippe Quint as soloist in DeVos Hall.

The Brazilian-born conductor will be in St. Cecilia Music Center for intimate music of Schumann and Brahms on Jan. 6, 2017 followed by a return to DeVos Hall with music by Mozart and Mahler’s mighty Symphony No. 5 on Feb. 3-4, 2017 and with Mussorgsky’s evocative and entertaining Pictures at an Exhibition on March 3-4.

Classic pop and rock, plus family-friendly entertainment and cinematic, special events and seasonal celebrations will bring a galaxy of eminent artists and guest conductors to Grand Rapids.

Special guests include Christian rock group MercyMe for a holiday-themed show on Nov. 29 November, and singer Lalah Hathaway for the Grand Rapids Symphony’s annual “Symphony with Soul” on February 18.

The Grand Rapids Symphony welcomes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to DeVos Performance Hall next season with a full-length screening of the 2001 film, projected on a 40-foot screen, featuring a live performance of John Williams’ film score played by a 90-piece orchestra. Three Special Event shows will be held Jan. 27-28, 2017

The Grand Rapids Pops season promises cinematic thrills you can’t experience anywhere else with Dreamworks Animation in Concert, a visual and musical, 20th anniversary salute to the studio that created Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon for one-night only on Oct. 22 on the Gerber SymphonicBoom Series.

A full-length screening of the heartwarming film, E.T the Extra-Terrestrial follows in three performances Nov. 4-6 on the Fox Motors Pops Series with its memorable score by John Williams, the five-time Oscar-winning film composer.

Ann Hampton Callaway, who wrote and sang the theme from TV’s The Nanny, returns to DeVos Hall on Jan. 20-22 with a salute to Barbra Streisand, including songs such as At the Same Time that Callaway wrote especially for Babs.

Beatlemania is back on the Pops Series with the tribute group Classical Mystery Tour joining the Grand Rapids Pops April 28-30 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The SymphonicBoom Series also welcomes Video Games Live, the ultimate video game experience in concert, to DeVos Performance Hall on Jan. 7, 2017. Co-creator Tommy Tallarico hosts the show with music from games such as Sonic, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy and many other big-name franchises, plus a few cult classics, performed by the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Cinematic highlights on the Classical Series include Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, featuring the enchanting 18th variation that served as the love theme for the movie Somewhere in Time, filmed at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. The dazzling Joyce Yang joins the Grand Rapids Symphony on Oct. 7-8 as piano soloist for the Paganini Variations featuring the return of guest conductor Perry So.

Familiar faces coming to town include pianist Jim Witter from The Piano Men, a past performer with the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops. He returns with The Music of Billy Joel and Elton John on Sept. 23-25 to open the six-concert Fox Motors Pops Series together with Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt on the podium.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s 87th season promises the return of music director laureate David Lockington on Nov. 18-19 to lead soloists and the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, featuring prayers, biblical stories, and texts by poet Walt Whitman.

Grand Rapids Symphony made history in 1986 when it appointed Catherine Comet as the first woman to serve as music director of a regional, professional orchestra in the United States. Since then, many more have followed in her footsteps. Grammy Award-winning conductor JoAnne Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, comes to town March 24-25 to lead a program of elegance and grace with Ravel’s La Valse and Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 5 along with the local premiere of Scherzo Crypto by Grand Rapids Symphony’s assistant principal oboist Alexander Miller.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s three-concert Crowe Horwath Great Eras Series, held in the beautiful surroundings of St. Cecilia Music Center’s Royce Auditorium, opens its three-concert series on Oct. 21 with a Mostly Mozart program featuring Principal Hornist Richard Britsch and Assistant Principal Hornist Erich Peterson as soloists. Or try the Porter Hills Coffee Classics Series, held on Friday mornings, each a one-hour version of the evening Great Eras Series.

The Grand Rapids Bach Festival, the 11th biennial celebration of the Baroque in West Michigan, returns for a week of events March 5-11 under the leadership of Lockington.

The Christmas season wouldn’t be complete without the Grand Rapids Symphony supplying holiday cheer for the whole family. The Grand Rapids Pops’ Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops will be held in early December, followed by the return of Cirque de la Symphonie’s colorful Cirque de Noël later in the month on the Gerber SymphonicBoom Series.

Single tickets and season tickets are on sale. Season subscriptions are available at a discount of up to 50% off of single-ticket prices for select series and seats for new package orders.

Tickets are available at the Grand Rapids Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. Tickets are available by phone in the evening and on Saturday by calling 616.885.1241. 

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