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BWW Previews: Deborah Henson-Conant Partners With Grand Rapids Symphony On a Virtual Performance of INVENTION & ALCHEMY

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While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited in-person performances this summer season, this Friday (July 10th) at 7 p.m. ET, you can catch the virtual online premiere of Invention & Alchemy, a concert by Grammy-nominated harpist Deborah Henson-Conant and the Grand Rapids Symphony. This concert will wholly benefit the Grand Rapids Symphony. Following the premiere, Deborah will be stopping by an exclusive after-party to answer questions and meet fans.

Recorded live in DeVos Performance Hall, the original 97-minute DVD of Invention & Alchemy will premiere at 7 p.m. on Friday (July 10th) on YouTube, available only on an RSVP basis. Click here to RSVP, and click here to watch the trailer for Invention & Alchemy.

An encore premiere follows on Saturday (July 11th) at 2 p.m. ET in the United States and internationally at 7 p.m. in the United Kingdom. The encore will be followed by a 5-day window of on-demand streaming which may be extended depending on demand. People will have the chance to donate throughout the streaming period.

For more information on the virtual performance of Invention & Alchemy, check out the brief interview BWW Detroit did with the team behind this event:

BWW Detroit: How did this event come to fruition?

The original project came about through a confluence of philanthropy and creative collaboration, and was a Cinderella story for Deborah Henson-Conant - a composer, harpist, and singer. The first time she performed with the Grand Rapids Symphony in 1999, philanthropist and retired chairman of Steelcase, Inc., Peter Wege, approached her after the concert and said, "What I saw out there on that stage, I want the whole world to see." In 2005, they collaborated with the Grand Rapids Symphony to record her original symphonic show Invention & Alchemy, a series of theatrical stories performed by the symphony and speaking-singing harpist.

The CD version was Grammy-nominated for Best Classical Crossover Album, and the DVD was chosen by PBS to air as a music special. Because it was created as a DVD, it never had streaming rights. When COVID-19 hit, the American Federation of Musicians lifted the streaming restrictions for a limited time so it could be used as a fundraiser for the Grand Rapids Symphony - and inspiration for a beleaguered world. We're all deeply grateful to the AFofM for that.

Is there a set ticket price or can you donate as much or as little as you can?

This is both a FREE event and a fundraiser. The goal is to provide inspiration for and uplift everyone, regardless of what they can pay. People can RSVP for free, then donate as much or as little as they want. For certain levels of donation, there are also gifts.

Thanks to a generous sponsor, all donations are also being matched dollar-for-dollar, and for new donors the match will triple their donation.

Is there anything else readers should know about this event, future events, etc.

During the pandemic, Deborah Henson-Conant is performing virtually in a series of weekly "Live from the Living Room" concerts, coaching improv and creative expression in her online Harp Academy, and working with the Streaming Musicals platform to develop her next story-music project, The Golden Cage. You can learn more about her on her website.

Also during this time in which concert halls have been closed, the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony have been busy performing virtually. Performances include the "Hallelujah" Chorus from Handel's Messiah and the 18th variation from Rachmaninov's Theme on a Variation of Paganini, better known as the theme from the 1980 film Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. More than 40 videos from the Grand Rapids Symphony are available on YouTube. You can learn more about the symphony on their website.


Click here to RSVP for this fundraising benefit for the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Keep up with the latest Grand Rapids Symphony updates on Facebook at facebook.com/grsymphony, on Twitter at @GRSymphony, on Instagram at @grsymphony, on YouTube at youtube.com/user/GRSymphony, and on their website at grsymphony.org.


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