Building a concert season with Grand Rapids Maestro

Feb 2, 2017

This weekend marks another opportunity to see the new music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, Marcelo Lehninger. In addition, February marks an important moment for many performing arts organizations: announcements for the next season.


Sometime in the next couple of weeks, perhaps even days, the Grand Rapids Symphony will announce their next season of concerts.

"The season is actually nearly finished." Says Maestro Marcelo Lehninger who is still early on in his collaboration with the Grand Rapids Symphony. "We are in the stage of getting to know each other. But next season will be my first season as Music Director in terms of planning the program. I do it together with Roger Nelson, [GRS’s VP and COO, who] is wonderful to collaborate with. Sitting with him for hours and hours and hours and just putting the puzzle together. And all of the parts of the puzzle? We have a budget, we have to think about subscriptions, we have to think about what is successful, we need to cover most of the music history as possible in 10 concerts, in 10 programs. But we have a lot of fun doing it, and I think I brought some new ideas to the table."

…just putting the puzzle together. - Maestro Lehninger's description of building the GRS's 2017-18 concert season.

According to the Grand Rapids Symphony, the 2017-18 schedule should be released sometime in the month ahead, and published for all to see online at grsymphony.org --- In the meantime, Maestro Lehninger is still taking advantage of learning the strengths of the Symphony and a great way to do that is with one of the most beloved and expressive composers, Gustav Mahler and his 5th Symphony.

"Boy, Mahler 5. What a piece!?" exclaims Lehninger. "You know it's, of course, when you think about the Symphonies and where Mahler was placed in the music history, to finally compose the last possible version of what a tonal symphony would be. But with a piece like that, it's such an emotional piece, because it's such a passionate piece, and demanding musically, technically and emotionally. You need to let yourself go. I can't be just controlling and doing this and doing that. I need to get the overall arc of the whole piece and just letting it go and exploring those feelings."

Joining Mahler’s 5th Symphony during this weekend’s Grand Rapids Symphony concerts is music by another "M": Mozart.

"I always think that Mozart and Mahler, it's a great pairing. But believe it or not, the 17th piano concerto, though of course classical period music, but it's full of romance. Especially the 2nd movement."

Maestro Marcelo Lehninher and the Grand Rapids Symphony are joined by pianist Andrew von Oeyen for Mozart’s 17th piano concerto while the orchestra alone tackles Mahler’s massive 5th symphony. The concerts are this Friday at Saturday evenings at DeVos Performance Hall in downtown Grand Rapids. More information at grsymphony.org