Grand Rapids Symphony partners with Grand Rapids Bach Festival

Fri, 11/16/2012

The Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Bach Festival have formed a new relationship in which the Symphony will serve as the event’s lead community partner, with the goal of taking the Festival to exciting new levels. Symphony Music Director David Lockington will serve as Music Director of the Festival.

In its new role, the Symphony will work to chart a future course for the Festival, now entering its 9th season, through expanded community engagement; fresh, evolving programming that includes a greater emphasis on the involvement of professional musicians; and a more concentrated event calendar.

The Grand Rapids Bach Festival ( was founded as a three-day event in 1997 by noted mezzo-soprano Linn Maxwell Keller, who had performed in Bach festivals nationwide and envisioned only a one-time Bach celebration in West Michigan. Since then, under the guidance of Keller and a dedicated board of directors, the Festival has expanded significantly into a more than week-long celebration held every two years that involves a variety of community partnerships, educational opportunities, performances by professional musicians and family events.

The Symphony’s partnership with the Bach Festival has already begun with planning for the event’s Spring 2013 season, which will feature the composer’s time-honored musical works performed in a variety of sacred and secular spaces, and culminate with the April 26 and 27 performances of Bach’s masterpiece, St. John Passion. Tickets for this special offering, which will be held at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew and features both the Grand Rapids Symphony and The Bach Chorale of Grand Rapids, go on sale starting Tuesday, Nov. 20.

“The Grand Rapids Symphony is delighted to work with the Grand Rapids Bach Festival’s many friends and partners to take this established platform for presenting the genius of Bach in new and interesting directions,” Lockington said. “In addition to concentrating the Festival into a single week that leads to the performance of a major work of Bach, performed at the highest quality, our aim is to help create a ‘surround-sound’ effect throughout the community. From partnerships with many area churches to new approaches like ‘Bach and Brews’ to be held at an area restaurant, we plan to share the transformational power of Bach’s music in an array of traditional and unexpected settings.”

“From its inception, the Grand Rapids Bach Festival has been focused on strong community engagement and inviting individuals of all ages to experience the wonder of Bach,” noted Keller. “As the Festival marks the 15th year since its founding, it is truly exciting to imagine what the future will bring as one of America’s preeminent regional orchestras joins with the community to shape and present the Festival in years to come.”

In announcing its new partnership with the Grand Rapids Bach Festival, the Symphony also highlighed the initial 2013 Festival calendar, which is available at the Festival website, The upcoming season will begin on Friday, March 15 with a special pre-Festival event celebrating Bach’s birthday and will continue with a variety of Festival-week performances and yet-to-be-announced activity from April 21 – 27.

Concert tickets for the April 26 and 27 performances of St. John Passion are $26 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100 (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616/454-9451, Ext. 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.) Tickets are also available at the concert venue beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster, 800/982-2787, online at, or in person at Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include at Ticketmaster service fee. Tickets for other Festival concerts will go on sale sometime in January 2013.

About Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) was born into a German musical family and rose to become one of the greatest and most influential composers of all time. Though Bach’s talent as an organist was highly respected in Europe during his lifetime, he was not widely recognized as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now considered to be the best composer of the Baroque era, a time characterized by invention and discovery, tension and grandeur, though his music transcends time and place. Bach’s work has unparalleled beauty and emotional power, and his influence stretches from legendary composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn to contemporary icons.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grammy-nominated Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. Led by Music Director David Lockington, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some 170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. The Symphony sponsors the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses, and also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company.