Grand Rapids Symphony Concert Coming To John Ball Zoo

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Grand Rapids Symphony Concert Coming To John Ball Zoo

Music Director Marcelo Lehninger believes it's the Grand Rapids Symphony's job to serve its community.

Naturally, that means playing music people want to hear, but it also means taking the orchestra out into the community to play for people where they live.

Grand Rapids Symphony returns for the second season of its Neighborhood Concert Series with Symphony on the West Side, a FREE concert, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, in John Ball Park.

Underwritten by the Wege Foundation, the concert is open for free admission, but tickets are required for the program that'll be held in the park west of downtown Grand Rapids at 1300 W. Fulton St. Presenting Sponsor is Meijer, Inc., and Partnering Sponsor is Huntington Bank.

Music Director Marcelo Lehninger will lead the Grand Rapids Symphony in such popular favorites as Rimsky-Korsakov's explosive Flight of the Bumblebee and Tchaikovsky's lovely Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker Ballet.

Grand Rapids Symphony Associate Concertmaster Christina Fong will be soloist in the Autumn Concerto from Vivaldi's highly popular The Four Seasons. Cellist Zachary Earle, a 17-year-old student at East Kentwood High School, will be soloist with the beautiful Swan from Camille Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals.

The concert also includes Aaron Copland's El Salón México, and Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture, an arrangement of musical themes from George Gershwin's folk opera.

Come early for pre-concert entertainment from vocalist Kathy Lamar plus pre-concert activities for kids.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. for Symphony on the West Side. Free parking is available at John Ball Park. Guests can bring food and beverages including alcoholic beverages.

If the concert cannot be held due to inclement weather, Symphony on the West Side will be held the following day at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, in John Ball Park.

It's the second season of the Grand Rapids Symphony's Neighborhood Concert Series, a new initiative launched with help from the Wege Foundation.

"A symphony orchestra in the 21st century has become a service organization," said Marcelo Lehninger. "We're here not only to entertain our audience but also to serve our community."

In 2018, the Wege Foundation awarded the Grand Rapids Symphony a $1 million grant to enhance initiatives in diversity, equity and inclusion to engage a broader audience and share live orchestral music with everyone in its community.

Last year, the Grand Rapids Symphony held its first Symphony on the West Side in John Ball Park in July 2018 followed by La sinfonía navideña, a Spanish-flavored Christmas concert, in Wyoming in December at the Dan Heintzelman Fine Arts Center at Wyoming Junior High School.

In November, the Grand Rapids Symphony plans to present a second FREE La sinfonía navideña at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Kroc Center, 2500 S. Division Ave.

Associate Conductor John Varineau will lead the orchestra in holiday favorites. Admission is free but tickets are required for entrance. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony for details.

Though concerts in DeVos Performance Hall remain central to the orchestra its audience, new programs in new places are important for the continued growth of the Grand Rapids Symphony.

"I have a passion and a mission to reach the hearts and souls of everyone in this community," said Lehninger said. "Sometimes people feel they don't belong. We're trying to show them that, yes, they do belong. Hopefully, they'll understand that's it's their orchestra too."

Admission is free for "Symphony on the West Side" but tickets are required for entrance.

Free tickets are available GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza). Call 616.454.9451 x 4 or go online to for more information.

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