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Review: Grand Rapids Symphony Season Opens With Beethovens-Fifth, Sarah Change, and The World Premier of Immortal Beloved!

Review: Grand Rapids Symphony Season Opens With Beethovens-Fifth, Sarah Change, and The World Premier of Immortal Beloved!

Another great start to a new fresh season!

Review: Grand Rapids Symphony Season Opens With Beethovens-Fifth, Sarah Change, and The World Premier of Immortal Beloved!
Courtesy of Grand Rapids Symphony

I was fortunate enough to kick off another season with the Grand Rapids Symphony. The 2022-2023 season marked the anniversary season conducted by Marcelo Lehninger, the symphony presented Beethoven's 5th Symphony, Brunch Violin Concerto No. 1 with special guest Sarah Chang. They also presented the world premiere of Immortal Beloved, a piece composed by Grand Rapids Symphony musician oboist Alexander L. Miller.

The Grand Rapids Symphony is fortunate enough to have a ready and willing composer within the symphony. Alexander Miller joined the Grand Rapids Symphony as an Assistant Principal Oboe in 1992. Immortal Beloved was originally scheduled to premiere back in September 2020, however, due to Covid, it didn't happen. This premier of the piece lived up to that emotion along with the Symphony Chorus, in a one-movement, contemporary piece, written in 2020 and roughly a 16-minute duration.

Review: Grand Rapids Symphony Season Opens With Beethovens-Fifth, Sarah Change, and The World Premier of Immortal Beloved!
Courtesy of Grand Rapids Symphony

Alexander gave this as an introduction to the piece: "In 1812, Beethoven's affair with an unnamed woman yielded to history one of the great love letters of all time, otherwise known as the Immortal Beloved letter. Written over the course of 2 days, it is five double-sided pages, handwritten with the pencil the woman had given him. The Beethoven scholar Manyard Solomon describes the letter as 'An uncontrolled outburst of passionate feeling exalted in tone, confused in thought and ridden with conflicting emotions.' In other words what we have all felt at one point or another. The memory of falling madly in love for the first time and (probably) having our hearts broken is something to which everyone can relate. This deeply personal content of the letter makes it, paradoxically universal."

Sarah is one of those string players that you couldn't take your eyes off the whole time she was on stage. She was able to capture the emotion of the piece in her facial expressions both when she was playing and in between. It always impresses me when someone can memorize a technical piece of instrumental music, even more so when you aren't playing the whole thing, and come in right each time.

Review: Grand Rapids Symphony Season Opens With Beethovens-Fifth, Sarah Change, and The World Premier of Immortal Beloved!
Courtesy of Grand Rapids Symphony

After the intermission, the Symphony presented Beethoven's 5th Symphony in its fullness. The 8-note opening is arguably one of the most well-known 8 consecutive notes known in music worldwide. Symphony No. 5 in C minor, was written between 1804 and 1808. It is one of the best-known compositions in classical music and one of the most frequently played symphonies. First performed in 1808, it has appeared frequently in multiple genres of music coverers, as well as in multiple films and television, including Pink Panther, and Judge Judy just to name a few. The piece contains 4 movements: Allegro con brio (C minor), Andante con moto (A♭ major), Scherzo: Allegro (C minor), and Allegro - Presto (C major) with an impressive run time of around 30-40 minutes, this piece is truly a showcase for a symphony and the section of strings. I am a huge fan of the string section and couldn't wait to hear this piece live and in person. It truly lived up to the expectation, and if you ever get the chance to see it live it is a must!

Review: Grand Rapids Symphony Season Opens With Beethovens-Fifth, Sarah Change, and The World Premier of Immortal Beloved!
Courtesy of Grand Rapids Symphony

Coming up the Symphony has other great events and series with guests such as Timothy McAllister: The Saxophone Virtuoso Oct 21-22, Organ Symphony + Cameron Carpenter Nov 4-5 in the Classical series, and The Pianists Series with Natasha Paremski Oct 2. The Pop Series kicks off with Dancing in the Street: Music of Motown Sept 30-Oct 1, The Polar Express™ In Concert Nov 18-20, University of Michigan Health-West Holiday Pops Dec 1-4, Pops Knockouts with Caroline Campbell Jan 20-21.

They also have some special events not to be missed this season. Winner of multiple Dove awards and known for her Gospel music albums, Soprano Sandi Patty is returning to West Michigan after 2 years, to bring her Christmas Blessings Tour to DeVos performing along with the Symphony. If you are a Harry Potter fan mark these dates on your calendar as you'll want to be present for both parts, presented on separate nights: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 1 in Concert will be presented Jan 27-28, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 in Concert will be presented Jan 28-29.

To purchase tickets and for a complete list of shows go to: grsymphony.org/concerts-and-tickets.

Connect with Grand Rapids Symphony on Twitter at @grsymphony, on Facebook at facebook.com/grsymphony, and on Instagram at instagram.com/grsymphony


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