Enjoy Songs Of Frank Sinatra At Grand Rapids Pops

Enjoy Songs Of Frank Sinatra At Grand Rapids PopsThey called him the "Chairman of the Board of Music."

Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century as well as one of the best- selling recording artists of all time.

Twenty years before fans screamed themselves hoarse at the sight of The Beatles, bobbysoxers worked themselves into a frenzy at the sight of a skinny, 20-something kid who sang with Tommy Dorsey's Big Band.

Sinatra, though he didn't sing rock music, was the music's first rock star.

Grand Rapids Pops welcomes singer and pianist Tony DeSare back to Grand Rapids for a salute to the music of Frank Sinatra titled Sinatra and Beyond.

DeSare, who starred in the Off-Broadway show, Our Sinatra, will perform songs made famous by "The Sultan of Swoon." Enjoy such "ring-a-ding-ding" tunes as Come Fly With Me, I've Got the World on a String, My Way and many more.

Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the Grand Rapids Symphony's Fox Motors Pops series concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 9-10 and at 3 p.m. Sunday November 11 in DeVos Performance Hall. Guest Artist Sponsor: Holland Home.

Described in the New York Times in 2012 as "two parts young Sinatra to one part Billy Joel," DeSare channels the best of the Great American Songbook.

Generally when someone mentions the music of Ol' Blue Eyes, they think of an older Sinatra, sporting a tuxedo, singing such songs as "New York, New York." But DeSare, age 42, prefers Sinatra's music from the 1950s, when he recorded such albums as "In the Wee Small Hours" and "Songs for Only the Lonely" for Capitol Records.

"Frank's voice was dead-on perfect, and he was such a great interpreter," DeSare said. "Plus, he was working with those classic Nelson Riddle arrangements."

Named a Rising Star Male Vocalist by Downbeat magazine in 2009, DeSare has appeared in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to jazz clubs. He's headlined in Las Vegas with comedian Don Rickles, and he's appeared with major symphony orchestras.

DeSare's first appearance with the Grand Rapids Symphony was for its Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops in 2012. Earlier that year, he was in West Michigan to perform Our Sinatra at Mason Street Warehouse in Saugatuck.

Tony DeSare's first instrument, which he took up at age 8, was violin. Two years later, he began playing on a little Casio keyboard from Radio Shack. That's what stuck.

"I'm not sure exactly what it is," he told the South Bend Tribune in August. "I know one of the big things is that it's the only instrument that lets you be your own orchestra."

At age 11, he became obsessed with learning George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." Mining his parents' record collection, he soon developed a fondness for such classic pop singers as Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

Music remained a hobby, and he was pre-law at Ithaca College until he attended a Billy Joel concert, and the singer/songwriter shared some advice from the stage for the audience of 20,000.

"What Billy said is that we did not have to become recording stars or follow in his footsteps," DeSare recalled in an interview with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in September 2017. "He basically said, 'If you feel you can pay your bills by playing music, that alone is reason enough to follow your dream,'"

"I just sat back, thinking to myself, 'Wow, when you put it that way,'" he added. "I was much too far along for me to switch and begin pursuing a music degree," he said. "But I dropped my law courses the next Monday and became a business major."


Single tickets for the Fox Motors Pops series start at $18 and are available at the Grand Rapids Symphony box office, weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum).

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.

Special Offers

Full-time students of any age can purchase tickets for $5 at the door on the day of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Tickets program, sponsored by Calvin College. Discounts also are available to members of MySymphony360, the Grand Rapids Symphony's organization for young professionals ages 21-35.

Students age 7-18 also are able to attend for free when accompanied by an adult. Free for Kids tickets must be purchased in advance at the GRS Ticket office. Up to two free tickets are available with the purchase of a regular-price adult ticket. Go online for more details.

Symphony Scorecard provides up to four free tickets for members of the community receiving financial assistance from the State of Michigan and for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, whether on active or reserve duty or serving in the National Guard. Go online for information to sign up with a Symphony Scorecard Partner Agency.

Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, nine concert series in a wide range of musical and performance styles plus educational and community outreach programs combine to offer more than 400 performances per year, touching the lives of some 200,000, nearly half of whom are students, senior citizens or people with disabilities. Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Grand Rapids Youth Symphony; and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus as well as the biennial the Grand Rapids Bach Festival, which returns in 2019. GRS collaborates annually with Opera Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Ballet and semiannually with the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo.

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