Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Ragtime, Blues And All That Jazz Come To Grand Rapids Symphony Stage This January

Ragtime, Blues And All That Jazz Come To Grand Rapids Symphony Stage This January

Louis Armstrong spent his life as a traveling ambassador of jazz, spreading the gospel of the musical genre that has become America's greatest contribution to the arts.

Trumpeter and singer Byron Stripling has lived a similar life, performing the timeless music of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Muddy Waters and B.B. King.

"Nothing can ever get old in jazz, because it's meant to be felt differently all the time," Stripling told the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky in December 2017.

"When I played in Count Basie's band, we were probably on the road almost 200 days a year, and it never felt old. We played 'April in Paris' every night. We played 'One O'Clock Jump' every night. Not only did I hear them and feel them as something new at each show; I actually felt I was part of the experience."

"It's hard to get bored when the spontaneity is always there," he added.

You won't be bored either with Stripling on stage with the Grand Rapids Pops for a show titled Ragtime, Blues and All That Jazz with Byron Stripling on Jan. 25-27 in DeVos Performance Hall. Shows in the Fox Motors Pops series are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26, plus a matinee at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. Concert Sponsor for the show is the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation.

Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will lead the orchestra in music such as Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" along with "Basin Street Blues" and "Saint Louis Blues." Joining Stripling on stage will be keyboardist Bobby Floyd who formerly toured with both Ray Charles and with the Count Basie Band.

Formerly lead trumpet with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones and Frank Foster, Stripling has toured and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman and Lionel Hampton and many other jazz greats. He's played at the Newport Jazz Festival, in pit orchestras for Broadway shows, and has worked with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the American Jazz Orchestra, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and the GRP All-Star Big Band.

The Ohio native grew up listening to the music of Louis Armstrong and later appeared as Armstrong in the musical, "Satchmo" and also for a TV episode of "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles." Today, Stripling continues to perform the music of Louis Armstrong for audiences who never had the opportunity to hear the iconic jazz musician in person.

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Stripling is the artistic director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, a leader of his own quartet, and he frequently performs with pops orchestras around the world including the celebrated Boston Pops Orchestra.

A frequent guest artist win the Grand Rapids Symphony, Stripling's last appearance in DeVos Hall was for an electrifying and heartfelt tribute to Louis Armstrong in January 2016.

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

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.

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Detroit Stories

More Hot Stories For You