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BWW Review: ROMEO AND JULIET Virtually With Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Ballet.


A special kick off show in Pathwaves, a virtual season not to be missed!

BWW Review: ROMEO AND JULIET Virtually With Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Ballet.
Credit: Larissa Fall

Grand Rapids Symphony presents Romeo and Juliet, the first of three new shows in the 2020 Season. Pathwaves presented by SpartanNash, is the Symphony's reimagined 2020-2021 artistic seasons. For the 2020 part of the season they are sharing the gift of music with the West Michigan community through a dynamic and innovative season of concerts, delivered via live stream. The new Pathwaves series includes varied styles of music and diverse composers, like waves of hope leading us down our community's path of healing.

We start out very appropriately with a brass group and small but mighty two person percussion section playing "The Stars Spangled Banner". The string section and a single horn are next to perform along with dancers from Grand Rapids Ballet the classical piece "Ave Maria", followed by the string section for "Coqueteos" from Leyendas to finish off the first act of the program.

Since the show is virtual and intermission free, we have a special interlude performance featuring a special guest instrument that I've never seen or heard in a symphony season. Played solo on an accordion and featuring dancers from Grand Rapids ballet, "La Cumparsita" (Rodríguez).

The second act starts with two very special pieces, "Andante Cantabile" played by the strings with a special featured solo cello, which I enjoyed very much. Following the piece a solo violinist comes out and plays "Melodie" from Op. 42 completely from memory, along with the strings. This stuck out as something I remember since it was a longer piece and playing from memory is always something that amazes me in a larger music repertoire.

BWW Review: ROMEO AND JULIET Virtually With Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Ballet.
Sarah Marley and Nathan Young
Credit: Scott Rasmussen

For the finale performance of the night the Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Ballet present an abridged, 20 min summarized version of Romeo and Juliet (Overture- fantasy) featuring strings, woodwinds, percussion, and limited brass from Grand Rapids symphony with a group of six dancers from Grand Rapids Ballet. The dancing was beautifully choreographed and played magnificently for the whole event.

I love that although virtual, the performance started right on the 7:30 PM marker and didn't have any flaws on the streaming and had really good quality audio. For that "social distancing" I had wondered about it was done on 2 sound type stages built on the arena floor, with multiple white drapes behind them that were lit based on mood and musical number. For the safety part of the orchestra and dancers, the brass were behind individual shields due to the nature of the air blowing out the instrument, and every one else was masked up. There also were fewer instruments than traditionally and they had parts of the performances specifically written to accommodate for this reason. Fewer instruments means safety in mind by allowing space between instruments. The sound was great with every one playing together even with not being close, and you would have thought that they were under the acoustic shell back at the other venues siting right next to another where you could hear each other.

If you missed out on this great hour of music and ballet, I would highly recommend checking out the Symphony's remaining Virtual shows, including: Mosaic Motion October 16, 2020, Marcelo Plays and Conducts October 23 and 24, 2020, Voice and the Violin featuring Joshua Bell Friday, November 13 and 14, 2020, A New World: Intimate Music From Final Fantasy November 20, 2020, and Metro Health Holiday Pops December 4 and 5, 2020.

The Grand Rapids Ballets virtual season: Business as (Un)usual November 13- 15, 2020, The Nutcracker Experience with music From the Grand Rapids Symphony December 18-27, 2020, Collective Force March 2021 dates TBD, and Jumpstart: on Film April 2020 dates TBD.

Individual tickets as well as subscriptions for the Pathwaves Series are available online at

For complete and up to date season information connect with Grand Rapids Symphony online at, on Twitter at @grsymphony, on Facebook at, and on Instagram at @grsymphony.

For information on the Grand Rapids Ballet season connect with Grand Rapids Ballet online at, on Twitter at @grapidsballet on Facebook at, and on Instagram at @grapidsballet.

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