Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thanks, West Michigan: Grand Rapids Symphony

Shows Appreciation to Community with Performances April 15 & 16

In appreciation for the generous support it has received from West Michigan throughout its 81-year history, the Grand Rapids Symphony is dedicating two performances in April to the community.

Guest conductor Andrew Grams and the Grand Rapids Symphony will present the community appreciation concert titled “Two Dons and Dvorak.” The performances, spotlighting the talents of Symphony musicians Nancy Steltmann, principal cello, and Leslie Van Becker, principal viola, will be held at DeVos Performance Hall on April 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. The concert is part of the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series.

As a thank you to the community, ticket prices have been significantly reduced for these performances. Tickets for adults are $18, seniors over the age of 62 are $9 and students are $5.

On the concert’s first half, the famous stories of two historic Dons – Quixote and Giovanni – will be brought to life through the power music. The overture to Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni,” blends comedy and drama as it tells the story of the licentious Italian nobleman.

Strauss’ musical story of “Don Quixote” showcases Steltmann on cello representing the Spanish country gentleman and Van Becker on viola representing his long-suffering sidekick, Sancho Panza. This concert continues the Symphony’s tradition of featuring its musicians as soloists, inviting the audience to experience the breadth of talent possessed by individual Symphony members.

The evening’s performance will conclude with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, a cheery symphony in four movements influenced by the Bohemian folk music that the composer loved.

Grams has been called one of America’s most promising talented, young conductors. He began his career in Michigan at the age of 17, when he directed the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen Arts Camp. He has appeared with many leading symphonies, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C. the Melbourne Symphony and others. During the 2010-11 season, Grams – who is also an accomplished violinist – debuted with the BBC Symphony in London and performed with orchestras in Germany, Canada and the Netherlands.

Steltmann has been principal cellist of the Symphony since 1990. She came to the orchestra from New York City in 1980, where she was assistant principal. She holds bachelors and masters degrees from the Julliard School, and has performed in New York and throughout the Midwest as a guest artist.

Van Becker has been principal viola of the Symphony since 1978. In addition to her work with the Symphony, she performs in musical festivals, quartets and chamber orchestras. She holds a bachelor of music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and masters in music from the Yale University School of Music.

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box offices, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on the day of the concert two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through, 1.800.982.2787, online at, or in person at Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare Stores and Walmart.