Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra graces Arts at Noon series

Courtesy /
The Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra

Courtesy / The Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra

Rebekah Young

On Wednesday, students can experience musical mastery when the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra performs on campus.

“Everyone at Grand Valley can benefit from listening to a high quality musical performance by a leading professional organization right here on our Allendale campus,” said Dr. Mark Williams, coordinator for the Arts at Noon Series and assistant professor of trombone.

As part of the Arts at Noon Series, the concert event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre with free admission to the public.

According to the GRSO website, the symphony was established in 1930 and currently performs for the West Michigan community more than 400 times each year. Under music director David Lockington, the symphony reaches more than 170,000 listeners through eight concert series and various educational and outreach concerts throughout the year.

“The main value of listening to music for anyone is the way that a great performance of musical master works can make time stand still,” said orchestra director Dr. Henry Duitman.

The symphony also provides the orchestra for the Grand Rapids Ballet Company and Opera Grand Rapids. The symphony has recorded 12 albums, including its 2007 Grammy-nominated “Invention & Alchemy.”

“It is regarded as one of the finest regional orchestras in the country,” Williams said. “The Grand Rapids Symphony benefits the West Michigan area by supporting a high quality of life and fostering a sense of community.”

During its performance at GVSU, the symphony will be directed by associate director John Varineau, who has served in his current position for 26 years and conducts the orchestra for all of its concert series performances.

Varineau also conducts several educational concerts in Michigan, teaches clarinet at Calvin College, Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Community College, and serves as an adjunct professor at GVSU.

“Varineau has chosen a diverse program that should be very entertaining,” Williams said. “Live performances can be very thought-provoking, and exploring different aspects of our culture is at the heart of a liberal education.”

As the orchestra director for GVSU, Duitman expressed enthusiasm for his students to hear the GRSO perform on the same stage the students regularly use.

“They will learn so much and be inspired by listening to and watching players who were probably in a university orchestra just a few years ago and have now progressed to a higher level of proficiency,” he said.

In addition to next week’s concert, the GRSO gives students more opportunities to listen to its performances through its Student Passport program. This year-round program allows students to purchase $5 tickets to select concerts at the DeVos Performance Hall. The program can be accessed at

But music students are not the only ones who can appreciate the GRSO.

Duitman said anyone can enjoy great musical performances because the moment when time stops and the music swells, music can “make you realize that your life now has a dimension of clarity, richness and joy that couldn’t have been attained in any other way.”

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