Great cities of the world are the inspiration behind the Grand Rapids Symphony’s next Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series concerts. Two works from contemporary composers, Andrew Norman and John Adams, are paired with Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome” and Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” for a musical trip around the globe. Music Director David Lockington leads the orchestra in two performances Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23, 8:00 p.m. at DeVos Performance Hall.
“This concert is a great combination of old and new,” said Lockington.
The concert begins with Andrew Norman’s “The Great Swiftness,” a dazzling, colorful work commissioned and premiered by the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2010. “The Great Swiftness” was inspired by downtown Grand Rapids’ famous Calder sculpture, “La Grande Vitesse.” Norman, who was born in Grand Rapids, considers himself a lifelong enthusiast for all things architectural and often writes music that is inspired by forms he encounters in the visual world. In composing this work, he imagined what the Calder sculpture would sound like if it were music.
“What I really tried to capture was the sense of curving and swooping – these beautiful lines on this sculpture and how it’s huge and monumental but also really graceful,” said Norman.
The concert reaches its next destination, the urban streets of Los Angeles, with John Adams’ “City Noir.” Adams, an esteemed minimalist composer, found inspiration for this work in dark Hollywood films of the 1940s and ‘50s as well as jazz-inflected symphonic music.
“Adams is such a voice of our times, he captures something really special,” said Lockington. “I just heard ‘City Noir’ a few years ago and was blown away. It is an enormous and stunning piece.”
The concert concludes by transporting listeners to European destinations with the performance of two time-honored audience favorites. The beauty of Rome is reflected through Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome” while Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” suggests the feeling of being a tourist in the revered city, listening to street noises and absorbing the French atmosphere.
Concert tickets start at $18 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 available at the DeVos Place Box Office, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster, 800/982-2787, online at www.grsymphony.org, or in person at Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee. This is a student passport concert.
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. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit www.grsymphony.org.
These concerts are made possible with support from the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts